A dispute between celebrity ex-couple Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb has turned into quite an interesting legal discussion. The Modern Family star and her ex-fiance created frozen embryos while they were a couple, and contractually agreed to only bring the embryos to full-term if they both consented. Now Vergara has moved on and is married to True Blood star Joe Manganiello, but Loeb wants to implant the embryos into a surrogate and raise them as his own children.
In California, embryos do not have standing, meaning that they are not people who can sue others to enforce their rights. However, in Louisiana, a person can bring a lawsuit on behalf of the embryos themselves, as opposed to claiming property rights over the embryos.
In this case, Loeb filed suit on behalf of the embryos in Louisiana, but the court ruled that the embryos lacked standing to sue in Louisiana as they were citizens of California – where they were conceived. This case tackles some complicated, broad questions about who gets to “own” and “control” what is done with embryos. Or even yet – do those embryos have their own rights? And for now, the answer in California at least – is no.
In this ever-changing world, technological advances continue to redefine the impact of the legal system on families. Early decisions on issues like this are extremely important, as they will set the standards for years to come.
Maria E. Crabtree, CFLS