WEATHER AUTHORITY : Heat Advisory View Alerts

An Arizona woman can't use her frozen embryos after divorce, state Supreme Court rules

An Arizona woman cannot use frozen embryos fertilized by her ex-husband to have children and has to donate them, according to a ruling by the state's Supreme Court.

Posted: Jan 28, 2020 6:20 AM
Updated: Jan 28, 2020 6:20 AM

An Arizona woman cannot use frozen embryos fertilized by her ex-husband to have children and has to donate them, according to a ruling by the state's Supreme Court.

Ruby Torres had her eggs fertilized before undergoing cancer treatment in 2014, court documents say. At the time, she and her then-boyfriend, John Joseph Terrell, signed an agreement at the fertility clinic that said if they split up the embryos could either be donated to another couple or used by one of them to have children -- but only with the "express, written consent of both parties."

The couple married days later and underwent in vitro fertilization, court documents state. The viable embryos were frozen and stored away. Torres' chemotherapy caused a "significant drop in her reproductive function," the documents say.

They divorced in 2017, kicking off a court battle. On one side is Torres, who wants to keep the embryos. On the other is Terrell, who doesn't want to father any children with his ex-wife and wants the embryos to be donated.

A family court initially ruled in Terrell's favor, saying his "right to not be compelled to be a parent outweighs (Torres') right to procreate and desire to have a biologically related child." An appeals court then overturned the family court's decision and ruled in Torres' favor.

In its ruling Thursday, the Arizona Supreme Court pointed to the contract and the condition that said the embryos "cannot be used to produce pregnancy against the wishes of the partner."

The court said it was "cognizant of the unavoidable emotional fallout" that could come from the decision. But because the couple couldn't come to an agreement, the court said, under the contract, "the court could only direct donation of the embryos."

"These are extremely difficult and emotional issues, so it's best for couples to make decisions ahead of time," and that was what happened in this case, said Eric M. Fraser, Terrell's attorney, in a statement to CNN.

"The Arizona Supreme Court enforced their contract," Fraser added, "which gives much-needed certainty to other couples around the state that courts will respect the decisions they make."

An attorney for Torres has not responded to CNN's requests for comment. Her lawyer, Stanley Murray, told CNN affiliate KNXV that even the courts couldn't agree on an interpretation of the couple's contract.

"So that just goes to show you even attorneys can't agree on what this particular contract provided," Murray said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 38567

Reported Deaths: 1290
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds318859
DeSoto211220
Madison158940
Jones126651
Harrison126017
Rankin123420
Forrest110544
Neshoba105978
Lauderdale98383
Scott84315
Jackson82820
Washington80615
Copiah69616
Leake66420
Lee66223
Grenada64713
Oktibbeha64428
Lamar6257
Warren61622
Holmes61442
Leflore58856
Wayne58819
Yazoo5847
Lowndes56917
Sunflower5659
Lincoln54436
Pike53724
Lafayette5364
Panola5176
Monroe49139
Simpson4803
Covington4735
Bolivar46318
Tate43113
Pontotoc4066
Attala39424
Adams39221
Newton38410
Marion36312
Pearl River32332
Claiborne32212
Winston31413
Chickasaw31319
Marshall3104
Jasper3016
Walthall29210
Noxubee2869
Clay27411
Union26611
Smith26312
Coahoma2516
Clarke24125
Tallahatchie2394
Lawrence2222
Yalobusha2169
Montgomery1973
Carroll19611
Kemper18914
Calhoun1875
Humphreys18410
Itawamba1638
Hancock16214
Tippah15411
Webster13611
Jefferson1353
Prentiss1344
George1313
Jefferson Davis1304
Tunica1293
Greene12510
Tishomingo1251
Amite1243
Alcorn1232
Quitman1111
Wilkinson1079
Perry994
Stone852
Choctaw794
Franklin602
Benton580
Sharkey540
Issaquena111
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 58225

Reported Deaths: 1183
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7449176
Mobile5349157
Montgomery4732118
Madison290112
Tuscaloosa283754
Marshall213313
Shelby188027
Lee179337
Baldwin149912
Morgan14897
DeKalb11457
Etowah113614
Walker113537
Elmore111825
Dallas103312
Franklin97016
Unassigned84228
Russell7610
Autauga74318
Limestone7254
Cullman7136
Chambers69932
Houston6848
St. Clair6714
Lauderdale6647
Tallapoosa66272
Butler65931
Calhoun6426
Colbert6138
Escambia56212
Jackson5113
Pike5016
Lowndes49723
Coffee4734
Covington45214
Talladega4517
Dale4283
Barbour4263
Bullock38110
Marengo38111
Hale37523
Chilton3693
Blount3671
Marion35514
Clarke3396
Wilcox3328
Winston3167
Sumter30613
Randolph28610
Monroe2833
Pickens2827
Perry2702
Conecuh2558
Bibb2382
Macon2359
Choctaw22112
Greene2029
Washington1679
Henry1653
Lawrence1590
Crenshaw1433
Cherokee1407
Geneva1100
Lamar961
Clay942
Fayette923
Coosa681
Cleburne621
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Overcast
81° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 76°
Feels Like: 86°
Columbus
Overcast
74° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 74°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 85°
Starkville
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather