Yesterday we learned that Sofía Vergara is being sued by two embryos she created in 2013 with former fiancé Nick Loeb. This may sound like just another far-fetched Hollywood scenario, but in reality, this has the potential to be a landmark case having wider effects on the concept of what it means to be a person with legal rights. It's also an important reminder to always pay attention to contracts.
It probably raises a few questions for you: Can embryos sue people? Logistically, how do they even file the paperwork from a freezer? How is embry-bro Loeb still in the news?
To make this story a little easier to digest, here are three things you need to know about the lawsuit that could have implications beyond the former couple.
The plaintiff in the case is a man named James Carbonnet, who is listed as the embryos’ “trustee,” despite the fact that he has no clear relationship with either Vergara or Loeb. In addition to going through the hassle of filing the right-to-live lawsuit on behalf of two embryos (let’s face it – they’re probably not going to be much help during the process and Carbonnet will end up doing most of the work himself), he also took it upon himself to name them “Emma” and “Isabella.”
In other words, he Googled “popular baby names for girls 2013” and went with the top two contenders. Clearly this was done in an attempt to establish relatable identities for the embryos to garner public support.
The crux of the lawsuit is that by not permitting “Emma” and “Isabella” from being born, they are being deprived of their inheritance, which, it just so happens, is in a trust in Louisiana — a very anti-choice state. The lawsuit requests that the embryos be returned to Loeb so he can implant and gestate them via a surrogate, thereby receiving the money in the trust, which would be used to fund their health care and education.
You might be wondering why Vergara and Loeb didn’t sign a contract regarding custody of the embryos when they were created at the fertility clinic. Actually, they did, and it states that neither party could use the embryos without the consent of the other. What was missing, however, was a clause specifically addressing what would happen if the couple broke up, which Loeb has tried to use as a reason why he should be granted custody of the embryos.
But really, the whole part about not using them without the consent of the other pretty much covers that anyway. The lesson here, prospective fertility clinic patrons, is to really go over that contract carefully before moving forward with creating the embryos that may later take you to court.
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