Another legal battle over frozen embryos has been in the news recently. Chicago resident Jacob Szafranski asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case trying to prevent his former girlfriend, Karla Dunston, from using frozen embryos the two had created together during their relationship. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case, meaning the ruling from the Illinois appellate court giving Dunston custody of the frozen embryos would stand.
It was only at the end of last year that a judge in California ruled that the frozen embryos would have to be destroyed when a former husband and wife went to court over them. So what’s the difference in these cases? In the California case, the judge ruled the embryos would have to be destroyed because the couple had signed a contract in which they agreed to destroy the embryos if they ever got a divorce. In the Illinois case, while the couple had a verbal contract and a signed medical release with the fertility clinic saying they couldn’t use the embryos without the consent of both parties, they didn’t have a written contract.
Nidhi Desai, an adoption lawyer speaking about the case on Chicago’s WGN news program said that the document that Szafranski and Dunston signed at the fertility clinic didn’t discuss what would happen in the event of a separation. “As long as we now know that there is a contract in place, we have a high degree of confidence that the court is going to follow it,” said Desai. Her recommendation was to have a lawyer draw up a contract that laid out the details regarding your frozen embryos, instead of just relying on paperwork you sign at a fertility clinic.
Ultimately, the lesson in both the California and Illinois cases is that when it comes to protecting your embryos, you have to plan for the worst possible scenarios. No one wants to think that their relationship could come to an end, but setting a plan in place that you both agree on can help avoid issues in the future and protect your future family. You can learn more about how to legally protect your frozen embryos by visiting EmbryoAdoption.org.