Top Arizona court rules frozen embryos in breakup must be donated

U.S. Law Review

The Arizona Supreme Court released a decision Thursday in a case that determined if a woman can use her frozen embryos to have a baby even if her ex-husband disagrees.

A trial court had ruled against Torres, saying the contract she and her then-boyfriend had signed in 2014 clearly said both parties must agree to implantation in the event of a separation or divorce. Torres had an aggressive cancer and wanted to preserve her ability to have children after treatment.

The state Court of Appeals overturned that ruling in a 2-1 decision last March. The court held that the contract was unclear and that Torres’ interests in having a child outweighed John Terrell’s interest in not becoming a father who could be forced to pay child support.

The Arizona Legislature changed the law in 2018 in response to Torres’ case. The law now allows a former spouse to use the embryos against their former partner’s wishes, but relieves the ex-spouse of parental responsibilities like child support.

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