A judge has ruled that an Arizona woman can’t keep the embryos she preserved when she was battling breast cancer several years ago. The ruling comes after a contentious divorce battle between the woman and her ex-husband.

Before she began undergoing chemotherapy, the woman chose to create and freeze embryos with her then-boyfriend so that she could undergo in vitro fertilization later if she came through the cancer. She says that she wanted to be able to have a biological child, and cancer treatments such as chemotherapy can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant.

The woman survived cancer, but she and her boyfriend, whom she had since married, broke up. Although he’d agreed to create the embryos when the woman was sick, given the fact that they were now getting divorced, he asked the court to have them destroyed. She sought to preserve them and keep them.

The contract that the couple signed regarding the embryos said that in the event of divorce, the embryos would be preserved. Under the terms of the contract, if they couldn’t agree on who would keep them, they would be donated.

The judge ruled that the embryos would be donated. The woman says that she’s still debating whether or not to appeal the ruling.

Even though creating and freezing embryos for use later with in vitro fertilization is increasingly common, when the couples who created the embryos later break up, nasty legal battles over the fate of the embryos can ensue.

It helps when the couples have a contract in place that clearly spells out what will happen should they break up. However, as we’ve seen in the long, ongoing fight between actress Sofia Vergara and her ex-boyfriend over their embryos, people can still choose to dispute the terms of the contract. An experienced Arizona family law attorney can offer guidance and support, no matter which side of the battle you’re on.

Source: ABC 15 Arizona, “Judge orders cancer survivor to donate embryos created with ex-husband,” Chris Gros, Aug. 31, 2017