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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Contract Regarding Destruction of Embryos Upheld, Despite Public Policy Concerns


A San Francisco Judge has upheld a consent form between former spouses providing for destruction of the frozen embryos upon divorce.

In the case of Mimi Lee and Stephen Findley was decided yesterday.  Mimi (an anesthesiologist), age 46, discovered she had breast cancer prior to her marriage to Stephen, and the two decided to freeze the embryos to preserve fertility.  They signed a consent form in 2010, which provided that the embryos would be thawed and destroyed upon divorce. They later separated in 2013, and  divorced this year.

Despite Mimi's arguments that this was the only chance she could have to bear children, Judge Anne-Christine Massullo firmly upheld the consent form in an 83-page decision, stating, "“It is a disturbing consequence of modern biological technology that the fate of nascent human life, which the embryos in this case represent, must be determined in a court by reference to cold legal principles,”  "Decisions about family and children often are difficult, and can be wrenching when they become disputes,” Judge Massullo wrote. “The policy best suited to ensuring that these disputes are resolved in a cleareyed manner — unswayed by the turmoil, emotion and accusations that attend to contested proceedings in family court — is to give effect to the intentions of the parties at the time of the decision at issue."

Judge Massullo's decision is consistent with approximately 11 other cases of this pattern.  Mainly Judges have ruled in favor of the person who did not want to become a parent.  It appears at this time the law seems to favor the right NOT to procreate over the right to procreate.

Mimi Lee will likely appeale case.