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Fathers' rights case may break new ground for frozen embryos

People in Pennsylvania and across the country followed the four-year relationship between actress Sofia Vergara and entrepreneur Nick Loeb. The two were considered a power couple in Hollywood until their stormy breakup two years ago. Now, they are making news again as Loeb fights for fathers' rights for children that have not yet been born.

The actress, known for her role on TV's "Modern Family," has made it clear that she is not interested in having children with her former fiancé. The couple was engaged before the stress of in-virto fertilization and two failed attempts at surrogate implantation took their toll on the relationship. Loeb says he sensed that Vergara was not as dedicated to having a family as he was. When they broke up, they still had two female embryos frozen at the fertility clinic.

Forty years ago, scientists broke ground by developing the in-vitro fertilization process. Since that time, infertile couples have relied on IVF as one way to conceive children. Since the procedure is not always successful the first time, and because some parents want the option of having more than one child, often several eggs are fertilized and kept frozen. The problems arise when the couple cannot agree on what to do with the embryos if their circumstances change.

Loeb wants the court to allow him to bring the embryos to term. However, Vergara insists that the fertility clinic contract they signed settles the matter by stating that no embryos will be brought to term if both parties do not agree. When the case goes to trial, the court will likely focus on that clause in the contract. Historically, courts in Pennsylvania and elsewhere have deferred to prenuptial agreements and clinic contracts. This case could set a precedent for future fathers' rights cases involving frozen embryos.

Source: New York Post, "The Sofia Vergara embryo trial could change men's rights forever", Julia Marsh, Sept. 16, 2016

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