' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Sofia Vergara sued by her own frozen embryos in unethical case

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sofia Vergara sued by her own frozen embryos in unethical case

I did not want to get pregnant when I did, but once I had my baby I knew doing anything but keeping her was wrong. I knew I would "never get over it." I knew I wanted to keep her and take care of her and watch her grow up and be her mother in every sense of the word.

Now imagine that someone else is trying to force you to become a mother because in a moment of craziness you donated an egg and it was implanted with your boyfriend's sperm, and then frozen away for use (as in birth) at some future time. Then imagine you decided the boyfriend was a creep, broke up with the guy, met and married someone else and now the ex wants to hire a surrogate to nurture the embryos because he wants...your children. Nightmare scenario, right? 

Yet that is the bizarre circumstance that Modern Family actress, Sofia Vergara, finds herself in as former lover Nick Loeb proceeds with a too-clever lawsuit that has emerged in Louisiana in the names of two frozen embryos that are sitting in frozen nitrogen in California. Vergara's ex, Nick Loeb, dropped his lawsuit in California last week when a judge ordered him to produce the names of former girlfriends who allegedly had abortions after he impregnated them. The judge was set to rule on Vergara's motion to dismiss when he dropped the suit, and lo! another popped up in Louisiana--but with Loeb's name nowhere appearing. Instead, the suit is being brought two embryos, cutely named Isabella and Emma, and James Charbonnet, a New Orleans resident who is named as trustee of a fund meant to provide for the health, education, maintenance and support of "Isabella" and "Emma." The lawsuit says "Emma" and "Isabella" are being denied their right to their inheritance. The mind boggles just writing this story.

Why in Louisiana? Louisiana in the only state to legally recognize a fertilized egg as a "judicial person," which is ipso facto absurd, and the legislation was undoubtedly a movement to curb abortion in that Catholic-heavy state. Vergara, a Catholic from Columbia, says she does not want the embryos destroyed but left frozen indefinitely. The Church is against freezing embryos in the first place because it requires the creation of the embryos outside the human person, according to a Catholic website.

The suit asks that they (Isabella and Emma) be immediately transferred to a uterus (obviously someone besides Vergara's) so they can develop and be born, despite the wishes of Vergara, whose ova is involved. The lawsuit also asks that Vergara's parental rights be terminated, and she simply be classified as an egg donor--all of which can only happen if the contract between the couple when the embryos were created is declared null and void. It did not provide for what would happen should the couple break up or disagree about the disposition of the frozen embryos.

Should Loeb prevail, the frozen embryos will be forced to be born, no matter what they might think about this situation--if they could think. If they could be asked. If they were people old enough to be asked.

Though we know that modern medicine is creating children with various physical parts from multiple sources other than the obvious two, this scenario is a moral and ethical mess. Jane wrote about a similar case recently in which another wealthy guy did use eggs donated by his girlfriend. A male son was born to a surrogate, and father Jordan Schnitzer won sole custody. He denied the mother, Cory Sause, visitation, and the courts agreed. Schnitzer will be in his 80s when his son graduates from high school. Sause said she would continue to fight for visitation. That ruling seemed particularly cruel not only to the mother but to the son, who is denied contact with a mother who wishes to be a part of his life, even if not a partner to the father. Sause did not wish to marry Schnitzer before the baby's birth.

These eerie fights over birth and relationships always come down to money: both Schnitzer, 66, and Loeb, 41, are extremely wealthy men and want what they want. But children are not expensive toys to be bought or bartered over like yachts and property. This case, like the Schnitzer one, stinks to high heaven. No one should be forced to be a mother--or father--like this. Though we find implanting embryos in rented uteri normally unethical, this situation, if Loeb somehow wins, is particularly noxious. The only possible good that can come out of this mess is for the nightmare scenario that sounds like it was written by a science fiction writer be a warning to other women--and men--about freezing embryos for birth as some future time. In a 2015 previous case, a woman sued to have the embryos she and her ex-husband had preserved; a judge ruled against her. “The court holds that while  [Mimi] Lee [the woman] might have a right to procreate in other circumstances not before the court, she does not have a right to procreate with [Stephen] Findley [her ex husband],” San Francisco Superior Court Anne-Christine Massullo wrote in her decision.

We urge the Louisiana courts to put aside any feelings about the supposed personhood of the embryos and consider the long game here. As we here know all too well, genes do count. The biological bond does not dissolve nor vitiate ever. Loeb is free to have children with other women, but should not, must not, be allowed to bring these embryos to life against the wishes of the woman who will always be the children's biological mother. To do so violates all tenants of a sane and ethical world.--lorraine

Genetic mother denied visitation with son conceived in vitro

What makes a mother?


Actress Sofia Vergara faces lawsuit from her own frozen embryos ...

San Francisco frozen embryo dispute: Husband wins bid to have them destroyed

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How It Feels to Be Adopted by Jill Krementz
on March 1, 2015
Fascinating to read these children's stories about their own adoptions and their attitude about
them. I just wish we could come back 10 to 15 years later and find out how their attitudes may
have changed.


  1. The latest with Jordan Schmitzer. He's having another son via a surrogate and an egg "donor", an heir and a spare. Sause thinks it may be one of her eggs but he says it isn't.

  2. I'm hearing Lewis Carroll roll over in his grave and muttering "This is too fucked up even for me".

    Using someone's genetic material for procreation against that person's will is rape. There's no sugarcoating it.

  3. Can't get my head around this.... to use body parts of another human, without consent is rape.

  4. what's next? a guy suing a woman that he dated a few times for her eggs? ughhhh

    1. What's probably next is widespread suing of pregnant women who want abortions by men who want them to have those babies, whether they want to or not, sadly.

    2. The brave new (really, not so new anymore) world of reproductive technologies has been creating nightmare scenarios for quite some time now. When I was in library school in the late 90s I took a legal reference course, and focused my research project on reproductive technologies. I already had some inkling of what's was going on in what then was still a new brave world, having read some of Gena Corea's work. I was totally dismayed when I read about a case with 6 parents (including bio, adoptive, host and sperm donor) where the adoptive parents divorced before the fetus was born and reneged on the contract to adopt the resulting child. This child ended up parentless due to the lack of ethical and legal regulations at the time. Well, you'd think we'd have learned some lessons back then, but because human embryos have become contested property, it seems to only be getting worse.

    3. I think this may be the case I read about in an piece in O magazine or something like that. In that case, I believe the surrogate was thinking of keeping the children. But what a mess! on every level.

  5. This case is particularly disturbing to me because there seems to be quite a few surrogate situations around where I live. I have been looking for birth mothers or at least adoptees here and I have been able to find a small group. However, I couldn't stand to go to their meetings any more because one of the women's relatives is a surrogate and the group in general is quite approving of this. I just don't agree and in fact it turns my stomach. What I wonder is if there is something about adoption itself that causes people to think this is okay, maybe the prevalence of the adoption mythology in society that is leading to acceptance of more and more unnatural commodification of people.

    1. I think it's more a side effect of sympathy with infertile or otherwise fertility-impaired people. Most people will feel sorry for them for their situation, and think that there should be a way to help them to have a baby.
      And most people don't see surrogacy as a bad thing, which is partly the fault of TV shows etc showing an idealized version of it, with wonderful parents who care about the surrogate, and surrogates without any problems with the arrangement whatsoever.

      It happens in countries where surrogacy is banned too. In my country, it is banned, and people who want to use it go to a neighbouring country to get it. I've come across quite a few people who don't think that it makes much sense to have it banned when people can just go to another country. (That, and children born of surrogacy are not acknowledged - the woman that gives birth to the child is the child's mother in my country, whether she is related to the child or not.)

      Basically, I think it's more a matter of sympathy without follow-up thinking.

    2. And what country is that? Where are you writing from?

    3. Woops, didn't see your question, sorry. It's Germany.



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