A recent Washington Post article featured a couple facing a complicated yet increasingly common problem: deciding what to do with frozen embryos that they did not intend to put to use. Many families face this challenge when considering embryos from a previous relationship or after having children. Although this technology has permitted thousands of people in the United States to build families, disposing of embryos which have the potential to become children is a large dilemma for many people. A 2005 study from the National Institute of Health demonstrated that 72 percent of couples surveyed with leftover embryos had not decided what to do with them.
This issue made headlines recently with the case of TV actress Sofia Vergara’s ex-fiancé suing her to keep and use embryos that they had created during their relationship. This is an emerging area in family law, as many medical facilities specializing in artificial reproductive technology do not have the forms and legal knowledge necessary to fully inform patients of these potential challenges. Courts generally tend to rule on behalf of the party who is opposed to using the embryos, yet this is not guaranteed. For this reason, many medical and legal professionals advocate for patients to deal with these issues proactively by discussing potential outcomes and consulting an attorney. Consultation with legal professionals can help to safeguard against future struggles when dealing with new reproductive technology.