During three emotional days of divorce talks, Drake and Mandy Rooks managed to agree on how to divide up almost every aspect of their old lives down to the last piece of furniture. Only one thing remained: the frozen embryos.
There were six of them, created from his sperm and her eggs, and they had been left over from when the couple had gone through in vitro fertilization some years earlier.
The couple had had three children using the technology, and Drake was done. He didn’t want any more children in general, and certainly not with Mandy. She felt differently. She had always imagined a large family and, given her trouble getting pregnant, she thought the embryos were her only hope for having more babies. She wanted them preserved.
The dispute is one of a number of embryo-custody battles that have landed in the courts over the past quarter-century, resolved by different judges in different states with no consistent pattern. Rulings sometimes have awarded the frozen contents to the parent who wanted to use them, while other times determining that...