Sofía Vergara and the Case of the Frozen Embryos

Modern family, indeed.

In a story befitting an Aldous Huxley novel, the star of Modern Family is being sued over the frozen embryos she shares with her ex-fiancé.

Sofía Vergara and her ex, Nick Loeb, have two female embryos in a freezer somewhere. They had them made (awkward phrasing, I admit, but how else does one put it?) with the intention of having one or both of them implanted in a surrogate. But before they got that far, they split.

As an aside, while we don’t know why they split, the lawsuit involving the embryos alleges that Vergara was both physically and emotionally abusive to Loeb, backing up Mark Judge’s argument here that it’s not always men who are the abusers in relationships. The lawsuit accuses Vergara of punching and kicking Loeb, throwing her phone at him, and putting him down constantly.

But that’s not why Loeb is suing Vergara. He is suing her to make sure that she does not have the embryos destroyed. To Loeb, who believes that life begins at conception, destroying the embryos is tantamount to killing his unborn children. Now that Vergara is engaged to another man, he is worried about the fate of his girls.

Just ten years ago, this entire story would have sounded nuts. And while it still sounds a bit insane, it’s both incredibly real and increasingly common. There are two microscopic humans, with complete and distinct sets of DNA, suspended in the silent chill of a lab freezer somewhere. Their genetic makeup is a fusion of Loeb’s and Vergara’s, and while the law is hazy on the rights of these girls, they are, without a doubt, the biological children of Loeb and Vergara. They are just missing a womb.

And as in vitro and surrogacy take off, the crazy stories just keep happening.  I wrote here awhile back about the even crazier story of the former View host, Sherri Shepherd, who used her husband’s sperm and a donor’s egg to create a baby, which was implanted in a surrogate. She then divorced her husband in a state that does not recognize surrogacy agreements. The baby (which has none of her genetic material) was born, the couple is still fighting in court, and the surrogate is left hanging with a baby she did not agree to raise. Other stories, like that of the couple that hired a surrogate and then tried to bribe her to have abortion when they learned their baby had a harelip, highlight the moral insanity that in vitro and surrogacy can quickly lead to.

Vergara came out in response, saying through her lawyer that she, “never wanted to destroy her embryos.” But that’s just it, they aren’t just hers. Eggs, yes. Embryos, no.

But her response perfectly highlights the fact that if men already have little say in matters of reproduction, they have basically none when you start involving assisted reproduction. The law is incredibly underdeveloped, and often favors the mother, or the “origin of the egg.”

And while Loeb should be praised for fighting for his unborn daughters, too few pro-lifers are aware of the destruction of life that in vitro entails, and the lack of legal power they have over the fate of the babies they create that are either implanted in another womb, kept in a freezer for years on end, expected to die as a “failed implantation,” or simply destroyed in a lab.

Loeb and Vergara’s legal battle demonstrates that the moral dilemmas of assisted reproduction are thoroughly modern.

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