ARIZONA COURT RULES ON FATE OF FROZEN EMBRYOS IN DIVORCE

ARIZONA COURT RULES ON FATE OF FROZEN EMBRYOS IN DIVORCE

An Arizona Supreme Court ruled last week that a Phoenix woman is unable to use frozen embryos to have a baby without the consent of her ex-husband. The controversial case dates back to 2014, when Wife was diagnosed with cancer and told that its treatment could lead to infertility. Wife’s eggs were collected and subjected to in vitro fertilization with Husband’s sperm, and the resulting embryos were frozen so that they could be implanted at a later date. At the time, the couple signed a contract at their fertility center saying if they separated or were divorced, both parties would have to agree to implant an embryo and have a child. During their subsequent divorce, Wife wanted to be awarded the embryos.  The trial court initially held that the embryos must be donated, since Husband didn’t want to become a father, but this was later overturned by the state Court of Appeals earlier this year.  Last week the Arizona Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and enforced the terms of the parties’ 2014 contract and held that because Husband was not in agreement with allowing Wife to implant the embryo, the embryos must be donated. The years-long case inspired a bill in the Arizona Legislature that allows a former spouse to use the embryos even if their partner objects, as long as he or she doesn’t require the ex-spouse to pay child support or take on other parental responsibilities. It became law in 2018, but wasn’t retroactive to include past cases.

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