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Divorce courts uncertain what to do with frozen embryos

There are a few things that people own that seem like more than mere property, but are treated as such by the court. Pets are a good example of this; most of us have a stronger emotional attachment to our dogs and cats than our sofas and frying pans, but in the eyes of Minnesota’s divorce laws, there is virtually no difference.

Another, perhaps even more serious question many divorcing couples have is what will happen to their frozen embryos. If a couple planning to have children someday divorces before using the embryos, should they be saved or destroyed?

Family law is mostly determined at the state level, and state courts have issued various rulings on what to do with the frozen embryos of divorcing people. Fertility clinics often include language in their consent forms that unused embryos would be destroyed in the event of divorce, but such contracts do not always hold up in court, according to National Public Radio.

In one Massachusetts case, the court overturned seven contracts the couple signed while undergoing several rounds of In Vitro Fertilization. The court ruled that it would violate public policy to allow the ex-husband to become a father against his wishes.

On the other hand, women often find themselves going through divorce at an age when traditional child-bearing is virtually impossible. But they still wish to be mothers, and have no other options for having a biological child.

Obviously, a dispute over embryos can quickly become contentious, because the decision of what to do with them can be deeply personal. One possible solution is to freeze unfertilized eggs and sperm separately, as is now possible.

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