As far as celebrity custody battles go, this one’s a doozy.
When Sofía Vergara split from her fiancé, Nick Loeb, last May, it should have been a fairly simple breakup. No legal ties, no messy divorce, no shared property — about as simple as can be. Except for one tiny detail: the two female embryos they created in 2013.
The Modern Family actress, who has a 22-year-old son, Manolo, from her first marriage, wanted the possibility of a family with businessman Loeb, who has no children of his own. She went through fertility treatments — hormone pills, injections, egg harvesting — and doctors created two embryos, which remain frozen in the wake of the couple’s split.
Loeb has now brought a suit against Vergara, claiming the 42-year-old actress, currently engaged to Magic Mike star, Joe Manganiello, wants the embryos destroyed. And sympathy kind of falls with him there, because no matter how you look at it, she shouldn’t get to make that call without his permission.
Except Vergara, in a statement to People issued by her attorney, “has never suggested that she wished to have the embryos destroyed.” Oh. Well then. I guess that settles it?
Not so fast. See, Loeb wishes “to bring his daughters to term,” per his lawsuit. “I have always felt strongly that life begins at fertilization,” the businessman said. “I created these two female embryos with the purpose of taking them to term and not destruction, because I have always dreamed of being a father.” He went on to say he won’t seek “parental or financial responsibilities” from Vergara, he just wants to bring up the girls on his own.
Most of Loeb’s reasoning centers on the concept of male reproductive rights. He explains his position, stating, “Creating an embryo in the natural way can lead to parenthood obligations, even where a man doesn’t want to become a father.” If a woman can choose to carry an infant to term without the consent of the father, why can’t a man be afforded the same opportunity?
It’s an interesting question, to be sure, but it’s also apples and oranges. The alternative to a woman being given the right to continue a pregnancy without the man’s consent would be termination or a destruction of the embryo. The situation with Loeb and Vergara has this interesting middle ground — keeping the frozen embryos on ice until the two come to an agreement on what to do with them.
Legally, Loeb doesn’t have a leg to stand on in his attempt to bring the girls to term without their mother’s consent. Vergara’s lawyer revealed last week that the two signed an agreement when the embryos were created, stating “no unilateral action can be taken with regard to the embryos unless both parties agree.” She can’t destroy them without his consent; he can’t bring them to term without hers.
Looks like for the time being, Loeb needs to find another avenue for making his dreams of fatherhood come true.