A woman in Arizona has been barred from using frozen embryos she produced with her ex-husband to get pregnant.
Though some of have suggested the Arizona Supreme Court ruled on parental rights, the story is actually about the contract that the couple signed while they were still together. In 2014, John Terrell and Ruby Torres were dating. Torres learned she had cancer, but before undergoing chemotherapy, she began in vitro fertilization using donor sperm from Terrell, NBC News reported.
“One month later, the couple signed a contract with a fertility clinic. The agreement said that any fertilized eggs would be considered joint property, and both parties would have to agree about what to do with them if the relationship ended,” NBC reported.
The couple married four days after signing the contract. Terrell filed for divorce three years later. Torres still wanted to be a mother, but she couldn’t due to the chemotherapy. She wanted to use the embryos that had been created with Terrell, but that would have required him to become a father against his will and make him financially responsible for a child with his ex-wife.
His attorney, Eric Fraser, told KPNX that Torres “ wanted to use the embryos herself and force my client to become a father against his will.” He added that Terrell would have been “on the hook for child support for 18 years.”
Torres’ attorney, Stanley Murray, told NBC that his client had been planning to remarry and that the new husband would adopt any child she had from the embryos. He also said she would not have needed child support from Terrell, however, Arizona law would have required him to provide for the child.
In 2018, Arizona passed a law allowing women to use embryos without the father’s consent, but it was not retroactive. The law would also ensure that if one parent did not want to use the embryos, they would not be on the hook financially for the child conceived against their will.
The Daily Wire previously reported that a lower court in Arizona ruled that the woman’s desire to become pregnant “outweigh[ed]” the man’s desire not to become a father. It was also reported that Terrell only agreed to donate his sperm initially because Torres said she would use an ex-boyfriend’s sperm instead of his when he initially refused.
The contract signed by Terrell and Torres before the embryos were created said that both parents must provide “express, written consent” for the embryos to be used. Terrell had refused to provide that consent, and so the Arizona Supreme Court upheld the contract.
When the lower court ruled in favor of Torres, Judge Maria Elena Cruz dissented, writing:
Do contracts matter? I believe they do. Therefore, because the contract of these parties explicitly prohibits the outcome reached by the majority, and because it is outside our purview to reweigh the evidence, I would affirm the trial court’s judgment, or, in the alternative, remand the matter to the trial court for a new weighing of the parties’ interests.