The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that a woman cannot use frozen embryos fertilized by her ex and has to donate them.
According to CNN, Ruby Torres underwent cancer treatment more than five years ago. As a result, she chose to fertilize several eggs before undergoing chemotherapy in the hopes of using them after her treatment was over.
Arizona Supreme Court Rules in Ex-Husband’s Favor When It Comes to Ex’s Frozen Embryos
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At the time, Torres and her boyfriend, John Joseph Terrell, signed an agreement with the fertility clinic stating that if they broke up, they would either have to discard the eggs, donate the eggs or one of the parties could use them, but with “express, written consent” from both of them.
The couple married shortly thereafter, and underwent in-vitro fertilization, according to court documents obtained by ABC 15, but divorced in 2017 after chemotherapy caused a “significant drop in [Torres’s] reproductive function.” The couple has been battling in court ever since about what to do with the embryos.
Torres wanted to keep them and use them to hopefully one day have a child. Her ex, though, did not want to father any children with his ex and wished to have them donated. Torres once told ABC 15, “I wanted the opportunity to have a child because I knew the risk and what the research was telling me. I opted to create the embryos.”
Family Court ruled in Terrell’s favor, saying that his “right to not be compelled to be a parent outweighs (Torres’) right to procreate and desire to have a biologically related child.” An appeals court then overturned the initial ruling and ruled in favor of Torres.
From there, it went to the state Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled in favor of Terrell, citing the contract both parties had signed at the fertility center. “The court could only direct donation of the embryos,” their ruling said.
“The last clause was for divorce and we both opted to preserve them. They would either go to him or go to me if we could come to an agreement or they would be given up for donation,” Torres told ABC 15. “The embryos were my only chance at having a biological child.”
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Eric M. Fraser, Terrell’s attorney, told CNN, “These are extremely difficult and emotional issues, so it’s best for couples to make decisions ahead of time. The Arizona Supreme Court enforced their contract, which gives much-needed certainty to other couples around the state that courts will respect the decisions they make.”
Torres’ lawyer has not responded to requests for comment. It’s unclear if the former couple has a timeline in which they need to donate or discard the embryos.
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