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What Will Happen to these Frozen Embryos in Landmark Case?

Test-Tube-Baby-thumb-275x122-95930.jpgIf you've had fertility issues in your marriage, you will appreciate this story.

Pianist and part-time anesthesiologist Mimi Lee married Stephen Findley, reportedly a wealthy executive, five years ago.

Right before the wedding, Mimi was diagnosed with breast cancer, so she cautiously took the step to have her eggs and her new husband's sperm used to create and freeze five embryos.

At the time, Mimi signed a consent form allowing the destruction of the embryos in the event of a divorce. However, if the husband were to die the embryos would not be destroyed and would instead go to Mimi.

Now that Mimi and Stephen are divorced, they are contesting the fate of those frozen embryos.

Mimi sees the embryos as her only chance to have children. Stephen, on the other hand, doesn't want to see the embryos develop become children because of his now contentious relationship with Mimi. He said he didn't want to spend the next 18 years of his life interacting with his ex-wife.

Yes, the embryos are in the middle of a custody battle.

Mimi wants to have the embryos implanted in a surrogate. Stephen wants them destroyed.

Mimi's lawyer felt that his client had an advantage over her ex-husband. Stephen can go on and have children with another woman; Mimi is infertile due to her cancer treatment.

In court, Mimi asserted that she viewed the fertility clinic's consent form as she would an agreement on an iPhone update. She just agreed and moved on.

Stephen denies that assertion. He maintains that he and his ex-wife read the consent forms, signed them and initialed them together.

He also maintains that at one point Mimi tried to get $1 million per embryo from him.

The family law judge, in this case, pressed the lawyers for the University of California San Francisco about giving clients options for changing their minds about the future of the embryos they create.

Closing arguments, in this case, were made on August 4th and the parties are still waiting for a decision.

Some believe the case may hang on a set of documents from UCSF that includes provisions for destroying embryos under a variety of circumstances including divorce.

The lawyer for the University said in court that it would paralyze the system if patients could down disregard the signed agreements at some future date.

Some describe those consent forms as clear and binding while others have described them as vague.

Everyone seems to be watching this trial because the result will break new ground in the fight over the fate of frozen embryos in California. Stay tuned.

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