Sofia Vergara and her ex, Nick Loeb, have been going through a custody battle since their split. But not custody of a living child—custody of embryos created with her eggs and his sperm when they were together.
Vergara allegedly does not wish to have the embryos destroyed necessarily, just not implanted into a surrogate, because she does not wish to parent with this individual, the kind who would compose an entire New York Times op-ed about how he wants to force her to be a mother. Yes, that’s exactly what happened.
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.
Except the form they signed when undergoing the IVF process states, very fairly, that the process cannot occur without the consent of both parties. Basically, you can’t have a baby with someone without their express OK unless there’s a REALLY good reason. He cites court cases involving women (who likely experienced the majority of IVF preparation, including hormones and extraction) who were unable to produce eggs anymore after chemotherapy. This is not the case with Nick Loeb. Nick Loeb is apparently completely reproductively viable (Vergara is reportedly undergoing IVF with her new fiance, Joe Manganiello). He just wants his stuff back from his relationship that ended badly. Only in this case, it’s not a sweater. It’s embryos.
Vergara at a certain point decided that this was not someone she wanted to bring life into the world with, something a lot of people have to decide in relationships, with or without frozen embryos. Tabloid reports had him using her for fame (he raised money to attempt to run for Senate a few years back but didn’t go through with it) and his friends did interviews that said things like “I wouldn’t say [she’s a] bitch, but…” Whatever ended their relationship, it was clearly supposed to end. He blames this.
But as we began to discuss other potential surrogates, it became clear once more that parenthood was much less urgent for her than it was for me. We had been together for over four years. As I was coming on 40, I gave her an ultimatum. When she refused, we split up.
A few months later, I asked her to let me have the embryos, offering to pay for all expenses to carry our girls to term and raise them. If she did not wish to share custody, I would take on full parenting responsibilities and agree to have her declared an egg donor. She has refused. Her lawyer, Fred Silberberg, has told reporters that she wants to keep the embryos “frozen indefinitely.” In my view, keeping them frozen forever is tantamount to killing them.
Perhaps it is difficult to see this as merely a deeply pro-choice man (clearly anti-his ex’s wishes) who wants to be a father because he’s “coming on 40” (which isn’t really a massive issue for men). What this seems like is a man attempting to gain reproductive control over a woman not only without her agency or involvement, but against her express desires and mutually signed contracts, and an ex who could now forever be involved in the life of his former partner while she attempts to move forward in her life.
And the New York Times, the most respected publication in the country, is complicit. They gave this man a platform, in this world where women’s agency over their bodies is constantly up for scrutiny and debate and certainly is never guaranteed, and made him the victim.
“I take the responsibility and obligation of being a parent very seriously. This is not just about saving lives; it is also about being pro-parent.”
Yep, pro-parent. But anti-woman, anti-choice and anti-Sofia Vergara. Thanks, New York Times.