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After divorce, woman loses fight for frozen embryos

A groundbreaking case has ended in a loss for a woman who fought to save her frozen embryos. The story centers on a man and woman who went through fertility treatment prior to their divorce. After the marriage ended, the woman wanted to use the embryos that were created through that process to have a child. The man wanted the embryos to be destroyed. For many in Colorado who have struggles with their own infertility issues, the case strikes a nerve.

At the time the embryos were created, both parties signed an agreement stating that their genetic material would be destroyed in the event of a divorce. However, the woman is a breast cancer survivor, and the treatment for that disease rendered her infertile. This means that the frozen embryos are the last chance that she has of having a child who shares her DNA.

In considering the case, the judge was tasked with weighing whether the woman had an argument that was sufficiently compelling to outweigh the document that was signed. In the end, the judge asserted that the agreement was a binding contract, and should be honored as such. The embryos are to be thawed and destroyed, although that process is not likely to take place until it is clear whether the woman will appeal the decision.

For those in Colorado who are considering fertility treatments, this case should illustrate the need to tread carefully. Documents signed prior to and during that process can be enforced as legally binding contracts. To that end, it is vitally important to carefully review each and every piece of paperwork prior to signing, and to pay close attention to the provisions laid out in the event of divorce.

Source: CBS News, "Judge: Divorced California couple's embryos can be discarded", Nov. 18, 2015

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