Phoenix, Ariz., Jul 19, 2018 / 16:20 pm
A new Arizona law awards contested custody of frozen embryos to the parent seeking to "develop them to birth." A Catholic bioethicist told CNA it was a "positive development" in an otherwise unusual ethical situation.
The law, which came into effect July 1, is first of its kind in the United States. It was partly inspired by a custody dispute over frozen embryos. Ruby Torres, a 37 year old woman from Arizona, and her ex-husband John Joseph Terrell created the embryos prior to Torres' treatment for breast cancer, when she was told she was unlikely to conceive after radiation and chemotherapy. They married shortly thereafter, divorcing three years after she had finished cancer treatments.
Seven embryos were created and remain frozen in storage. Torres told the judge during divorce proceedings that she wanted the embryos,calling them her last chance of having a biological child. Terrell protested, saying he did not want to become a father or be responsible for supporting a child.
Last year, the judge ruled that the embryos should be donated, but not to Torres. She appealed this decision. The law does not apply retroactively to this case or other similar cases.