A courtroom has sided with a woman who wants to destroy her frozen embryo, despite her ex-husband’s efforts to stop her.
Jessica Bilbao and Timothy Goodwin froze an embryo before they filed for divorce. The couple originally froze two embryos shortly after they were married in order to use them for IVF. Their only child together, Isabella, was born in 2011. Bilbao already had two sons from a previous relationship, while Goodwin had a son and two daughters. The parents decided to keep the second embryo frozen in case they wanted to expand their family further in the future.
The couple actually signed contract with the IVF clinic in which they agreed the embryo should be destroyed in case they get a divorce. But when they eventually decided to part ways in 2016, Goodwin revealed he had changed his mind. He argued he wanted to preserve the frozen embryo in case he and Bilbao ever reconciled.
In October of 2017, a lower court ruled that the clause in the contract pertaining to the storage of the embryo was not enforceable. However, the court also ruled that embryo fell under marital property, meaning they awarded ‘custody’ of the embryo to Bilbao. In response, Goodwin filed an appeal, arguing that embryos are not property. His statement to the court read, “The party [is] seeking to preserve the pre-embryos because they are human beings,” Café Mom reports.
Eventually, Goodwin’s case was taken to Connecticut’s highest court in order to finally resolve the situation. The court did not answer the question of whether the embryo should be considered human life or not. However, its decision was still unanimous. Justice Gregory D’Auria explained that the original contract was, in fact, enforceable.
“Because we conclude that the parties in this case had an enforceable agreement, we do not decide what a court must do in the absence of an enforceable agreement,” the Justice wrote. “For example, we leave for another day whether, in the absence of an enforceable agreement, balancing or contemporaneous mutual consent is the appropriate approach, and what the details of such an approach would entail.”
D’Auria also explained they neglected to answer the question of human life because Goodwin had not brought the issue up in the initial court case, so he could not use it in his appeal. “Whether a pre-embryo is a human being is, at least in part, a question of fact,” the Justice wrote. “It is certainly not a question an appellate court can determine without some measure of fact-finding.”