Judge Orders Woman's Embryos With Ex Must Be 'Thawed, Discarded'

Landmark ruling says woman, 46, can't force ex-husband into fatherhood
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2015 5:50 AM CST
Updated Nov 19, 2015 6:36 AM CST
Judge: Frozen Embryos Must Be 'Thawed, Discarded'
In this photo taken June 26, 2015, Mimi Lee holds her dog Toshi at her loft in San Francisco.    (Paul Chinn/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

The frozen embryos that a 46-year-old woman says are her only chance to have children must be destroyed because of a contract she signed years ago, a San Francisco judge has decided. Mimi Lee and then-husband Stephen Findley froze five embryos after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. They signed an agreement with the IVF clinic saying the embryos must be "thawed and discarded" if the couple divorced, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The couple split in 2013, and Lee went to court to keep the embryos she calls her "babies," arguing that the agreement wasn't binding and it violated her right to have children, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo upheld the agreement in what the Los Angeles Times reports is the first California ruling of its kind. Findley testified that the divorce had been bitter and he didn't want to be forced into fatherhood with Lee, per the Times. Lee, an anesthesiologist, argued that she had misunderstood the nature of the agreement and thought she could change her mind, which the judge found hard to believe. "The court holds that while Lee might have a right to procreate in other circumstances not before the court, she does not have a right to procreate with Findley," the judge wrote, calling it a "disturbing consequence of modern biological technology" that the fate of the embryos must be decided by "cold legal principles." (Modern Family star Sofia Vergara is in a similar dispute with ex Nick Loeb.)

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