The year 2016 has already been a roller coaster of a year — yet it won’t end without another wild story or two. One comes in the form of a legal battle over unused frozen embryos belonging to “Modern Family” actress Sofia Vergara and her ex-fiancé, Nick Loeb.
A right-to-live lawsuit was filed Tuesday against Vergara in Louisiana, according to the New York Post’s Page Six. The plaintiffs in the case are cited as Emma and Isabella — the names given to two unused frozen embryos Vergara has already been in legal scuffles over with Loeb.
Despite a previous conclusion in a California lawsuit between the couple, the new court filings could be landmark should they move forward. The lawsuit contends the embryos have been deprived of a trust set up for them in Louisiana that could provide them with education and health care. The goal is to have the embryos given to Loeb, so he can start a family — something he previously fought for the right to do.
Loeb has ties to Louisiana, as he graduated from Tulane University and is a reserve police officer there. The embryos were first created in 2013 while Vergara and Loeb were still together. After failed attempts at in vitro fertilization, the couple split — and Loeb took only a few months to file a lawsuit for custody of the frozen embryos. The lawsuit was dropped when Loeb would have been forced to reveal the names of two previous lovers who underwent abortions while they were with him.
In a 2015 New York Times op-ed, Loeb explained his pursuit of the embryos: “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?” He said his goal was to raise the children himself, with Vergara needing to take no parental responsibility. He added, “In my view, keeping them frozen forever is tantamount to killing them.”
Fred Silberberg, Vergara’s lawyer, has stated it is Vergara’s wish to keep the embryos frozen indefinitely. The actress has one son from a previous marriage; she married “True Blood” actor Joe Manganiello after her breakup with Loeb.
In an interview with Howard Stern last year, Vergara explained her resistance to Loeb’s actions, saying, “A child needs a mother and a loving relationship with parents that get along, that don’t hate each other … I wouldn’t want to bring kids into the world where [everything is] already wrong for them. It would be so selfish. I’ve been working very hard for 20 years to get to this point where I am. I don’t want to allow this person to take more advantage of my career and try to promote himself.”
Most damning in the new lawsuit are alleged text messages between Loeb and Vergara from May 2013, after they’d found out they’d created a total of five embryos. “You can’t keep 4 frozen lives forever or kill them, we will go to hell,” wrote Loeb, according to Page Six.
Vergara responded with, “We r going to hell regardless.” She added, “I’m doing it because I want you to have a baby.” The couple split less than two weeks later.
The new lawsuit also claims that a contract signed by both parties at the ART Reproductive Center in Beverly Hills is null and void because it violates California code and Louisiana law. The agreement states that neither Loeb nor Vergara can do anything with the embryos without the consent of the other — but the new lawsuit claims it does not say what should happen if the two break up.
There’s no public word yet from Vergara or Loeb regarding these new legal steps. But wherever this case goes, it could end up being a definitive one for men’s parental rights and the rights of embryos.