Court to decide whether wealthy California investor can destroy infertile ex-wife’s frozen embyros
The fate of five frozen embryos rests in the hands of a California judge. The case is the first of its kind.
A Bay Area doctor and her wealthy executive ex-husband are duking out in court whether their embryos should be destroyed after their divorce. Mimi Lee, a 46-year-old anesthesiologist, argues she should get to keep them because they are her only chance to have children of her own, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
“I want my embryos,” she said in court Thursday. “I want my babies.”
Lee survived a battle with breast cancer, but the treatment rendered her infertile.
Citing their bitter breakup, her ex-husband, Stephen Findley, wants the embryos destroyed and is seeking to enforce an agreement they signed with the University of San Francisco’s Center for Reproductive Health upon preserving them. The agreement stipulated the embryos would be discarded if the couple were to divorce.
Findley, an investment analyst, filed for divorce in 2013. He told the court Lee had tried to extort money from him and threatened to turn his children against him. He said he didn’t want to have a parental connection to children he would ultimately not know, SFGate reports.
“She said that if we have kids from these embryos, you should be worried about what I’ll say to them if you’re not generous to me,” he told the court.
Lee has argued she signed the agreement in haste and didn’t read it carefully, and enforcing it would violate her right to motherhood, the Mercury News reports.
The case is unusual and one of the few in which courts have been asked to intervene in custody spats over frozen embryos. The most well-known is a lawsuit against actress Sofia Vergara by her ex-partner in which he seeks control over two embryos the couple created and cryogenically stored.
ABC News reports the case is precedent-setting.