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Judge ordered frozen embryos destroyed in SF divorced couple’s fight

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A San Francisco woman is now weighing her options after a judge ruled that the embryos she and her husband froze and stored at UCSF must be “thawed and discarded” due to an agreement the couple signed at the fertility clinic where they stored the embryos that required they be destroyed in the event of a divorce.

46-year-old Dr. Mimi Lee married Stephen Findley in 2010. Lee had recently received a breast cancer diagnosis and wanted to make sure she could still have children in the event that her treatment rendered her infertile.

The couple signed a contract, agreeing to destroy the embryos if the two were ever to divorce. When that happened earlier this year, Lee decided she wanted to break the agreement and keep the embryos after all because she says her cancer treatment left her unable to have children.

During the July trial, Dr. Lee argued that she believed the agreement she signed at the fertility clinic was just a consent form, and figured she could change her mind in the future. Her former husband says that their divorce was not amicable and that he doesn’t want to be tied to Lee for the rest of his life.

The court ruled that given Dr. Lee’s profession and knowledge, her testimony that she didn’t know she was entering into a binding agreement wasn’t credible.


Judith Daar, Professor at Whittier Law School, Clinical Professor at UCI School of Medicine and current Chair of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Ethics Committee