Family ties

Sofia Vergara’s ex wants to turn their frozen embryos into babies​ — against her will

Nick Loeb is really desperate to be a father

REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Nick Loeb would like his life to be like a Norman Rockwell painting, and he is taking legal action against his ex-fiancé, Sofia Vergara, for getting in his way. The latest salvo in his misguided campaign is a New York Times Op-Ed, in which Loeb argues that he has the right to unfreeze the embryos he created with the “Modern Family” star, implant them in another surrogate, and raise them as his own. Loeb, 39, and Vergara, 42, dated for four years; during their engagement, they created embryos and froze them, with the intent of having children by a surrogate. Instead, they broke up in May of 2014; later that summer, Loeb filed a complaint in California, demanding “custody” of the embryos.

Loeb describes his longstanding desire to have a family, his disappointment over an ex-girlfriend’s decision to have an abortion, and his (unsuccessful) struggle to have children with his ex-wife. He dreams of having the kind of family “one might see in a Norman Rockwell painting,” and he is frustrated that, at 39, he has not yet achieved this dream.

Loeb is entitled to be sad; he enumerates a number of reasons why he might be feeling down. His mother abandoned him as a child. His beloved nanny has recently passed away. His father is getting old. These are all fine reasons to be sad; they are not relevant to his case.

Loeb is not, however, entitled to compare his desire to keep Vergara’s embryos to a woman’s right to have an abortion. “A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects,” he writes. “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?” A woman gets to decide whether to end or go through with a pregnancy because either option has a unique effect on her own health and body. Loeb can make no such claim.

Loeb and Vergara signed a form, in 2013, stating that “any embryos created through the process could be brought to term only with both parties’ consent.” This would seem to invalidate Loeb’s claim: He’s going against a contract he voluntarily signed two years ago. Loeb argues, however, that the form “did not specify…what would happen if we separated.” But why would such a form exist–except to clarify what would happen in the case of a breakup? Presumably, two people in a relationship would agree on whether or not they were going to bring an embryo to term.

Loeb’s lawyers have found ten cases in the U.S. in which one parent sought to take a frozen embryo to term against the wishes of the other parent; in all but two of the cases, the court ruled against the parent in Loeb’s position. The two who did win were women who had undergone chemotherapy; the judges believed that the frozen embryos represented their only chance to have a biological baby. Loeb is 39 and (presumably) cancer-free.

Vergara is engaged to someone else, and her lawyer says she would like to keep the embryos frozen. Twitter, and most of the hundred commenters on the New York Times site, are on her side.

https://twitter.com/mallelis/status/593801581931331584

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