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Sofia Vergara, Nick Loeb battle over frozen embryos

By Ann Oldenburg and Maria Puente/USA Today
On May 11, 2015

Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb at a Yahoo News/ABC News event in Washington D.C. last year. The couple has since split and are in a public dispute of what to do with two frozen embryos created while they were together.
Credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Yahoo News/Creative Commons

“Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara and Florida businessman Nick Loeb are fighting over their two frozen female embryos.

Loeb, 39, wants to be able to bring the embryos to term with another woman. Vergara, 42, isn’t ready to do anything with them right now and wants to keep them frozen.

Her lawyer, Fred Silberberg, also maintains that she couldn’t destroy the embryos, even if she wanted to. Both parties signed legal consent forms signed in November 2013, to prevent either from taking such unilateral action.

In a New York Times op-ed piece, Loeb is keeping the battle in the public eye, laying out his case by writing: “When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property? Does one person’s desire to avoid biological parenthood (free of any legal obligations) outweigh another’s religious beliefs in the sanctity of life and desire to be a parent?

“A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects. Shouldn’t a man who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term even if the woman objects? These are issues that, unlike abortion, have nothing to do with the rights over one’s own body, and everything to do with a parent’s right to protect the life of his or her unborn child.”

Loeb, who markets a relish called Onion Crunch, says in the article that he’s half Jewish and a baptized Episcopalian, but was most influenced by the religion of his Catholic nanny. He described himself as “pro-parent” rather than using the more common “pro-life” label used by the Catholic church. Like the church, he believes life begins at conception, thus the embryos are human beings and cannot be destroyed or left frozen indefinitely.

But the Catholic Church is firmly opposed to the creation of embryos through in vitro fertilization for that reason, and because of this kind of dispute, the question come up: What happens to the embryos that are not brought to term?

According to the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Unfortunately, most Catholics are not aware of the [c]hurch’s teaching, do not know that IVF is immoral, and some have used it in attempting to have children.”

Loeb’s article echoes much of what his lawyer said in a statement to People magazine on April 20. The crux of it then – and now – is that Loeb wants to be a parent.

“Many have asked me: Why not just move on and have a family of your own? I have every intention of doing so. But that doesn’t mean I should let the two lives I have already created be destroyed or sit in a freezer until the end of time,” said Loeb.

One thing Loeb did not address is how he plans to bring the frozen embryos to term, since that would require either a surrogate, a new fiancée, or a wife willing to be implanted with Vergara’s embryo.

Vergara, who has an adult son, Manolo, got engaged to Joe Manganiello in December. Neither she nor her lawyer had a response to Loeb’s op-ed piece.

Ann Oldenburg and Maria Puente write for USA Today.

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