Businessman Nick Loeb is defending his lawsuit to bring to term two frozen embryos he created with actress Sofia Vergara, writing in an opinion piece in the New York Times that, "for as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of being a parent."
Loeb filed suit in California in order to "protect" two frozen embryos he made with his ex-fiancee and "Modern Family" star using in vitro fertilization in 2013. Vergara’s attorney said in a statement to E! Online that she has no intention of destroying the embryos as has been implied, but also has no desire for them to be brought to term.
"A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects. Shouldn’t a man who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term even if the woman objects?" Loeb said in the opinion piece, published online Wednesday.
"These are issues that, unlike abortion, have nothing to do with the rights over one’s own body, and everything to do with a parent’s right to protect the life of his or her unborn child," Loeb said.
Loeb wants to implant the embryos into a surrogate and says he'll raise the children himself.
The private spat turned public highlights the fact that technology has advanced faster than the law regarding disputes over frozen embryos, said Stephanie Caballero, an attorney who specializes in assisted reproduction and is the founder of The Surrogacy Law Center.
It is believed there are around 600,000 cryo-preserved embryos in the U.S., according to the Office of Population Affairs, which is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"I think he's saying these are his children, but the law really doesn't classify an embryo as a child," Caballero said. "The judge is going to balance Nick's right to procreate and Sofia's right not to be forced to be a parent," she added.
Vergara's attorney, Fred Silberberg, said in the statement that the actress wants the embryos to be kept frozen.
Loeb said he wants a judge to void an agreement that both sides must consent to bring the embryos to term. Loeb said the agreement doesn’t cover what would happen "in the event of their separation."
"In my view, keeping them frozen forever is tantamount to killing them," Loeb said in the Times.
Dr. Richard Paulson, professor of reproductive medicine at the University of Southern California, said "they're both invested in these embryos."
"They are the product of infertility treatment and medical procedure which involves informed consent," he said. He said couples using in-vitro fertilization procedures like this one should always sign an agreement that specifies what happens if there is a break up, and then couples should stick to that agreement.
Loeb asked in the Times, "When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property?"
"He's really trying to hang his argument on the idea that these are little people, and whatever else happens they ought to become bigger people, that is to say, babies," said Arthur Caplan, founding head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center.
"But courts have never recognized, never, embryos as people."
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