Human Rights

Connecticut Supreme Court to decide if ex-couple’s frozen embryo lives or dies

IVF, in vitro fertilization, embryo, sperm donor

A now-divorced couple in Connecticut is fighting over whether to destroy their remaining frozen embryo or allow another couple to adopt him or her. The case went before the CT Supreme Court on April 30th, but a decision isn’t expected for months.

This case is one of many that are happening around the country, including one involving ‘Modern Family’ actress Sofia Vergara. The number of cases concerning the custody and fate of frozen embryos is likely to grow since there are a million embryos currently frozen in the United States. Each case weighs in on whether human embryos should be viewed as people or property.

Former CT couple Timothy Goodwin and Jessica Bilbao have a born daughter who, like her sibling, was created via IVF. They had signed a contract in 2011 stating that if they were to divorce, the remaining embryo would be destroyed. However, after their daughter was born, Goodwin says he had a change of heart and no longer felt that the embryo should be destroyed. Then when the couple did divorce in 2016, the debate over what to do with their embryonic preborn baby began.

 

According to NPR, court documents show that Goodwin wants to keep the embryo to either use or place for adoption. Bilbao, however, wants the embryo destroyed. A trial court determined that since Goodwin already has six biological children, the embryo should be given to Bilbao to destroy. If Goodwin didn’t have other children, the court would have considered allowing him to keep it. Goodwin appealed the decision.

“One party wants the embryo destroyed and the other doesn’t, and I’m just suggesting that if we’re going to be using any kind of legal balancing test, that we err on the side of life and not the side of death,” Joseph P. Secola, attorney for Goodwin, told the CT Supreme Court.

READ: Mom of 7 says babies adopted as embryos were waiting for a ‘chance at life’

Bilbao’s attorney, Scott Garosshen, told the CT Supreme Court that Bilbao has a “constitutional right” to “avoid procreation.”

However, Secola pointed out that procreation has already occurred.

In a case reminiscent of a Biblical story, Goodwin is willing to place his child for adoption rather than see him or her destroyed. Bilbao, on the other hand, would rather the embryo die than live with adoptive parents.

As states begin to take on the question of whether or not embryos should be deemed people or property, lives remain in the balance. In Arizona, a recently-passed statute states that frozen embryos should always be placed with the parent who wants to allow them their chance at life.

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