Sofia Vergara’s frozen embryos, “Emma” and “Isabella,” are suing her.

Sofia Vergara’s Frozen Embryos, “Emma” and “Isabella,” Are Suing Her

Sofia Vergara’s Frozen Embryos, “Emma” and “Isabella,” Are Suing Her

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Dec. 8 2016 12:01 PM

Sofia Vergara’s Frozen Embryos, “Emma” and “Isabella,” Are Suing Her

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Sofia Vergara and then-fiancé Nick Loeb arrive at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington on May 3, 2014.

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Actress Sofia Vergara is said to have broken up with her fiancé after she took him to the White House and he tried to get President Obama to pose for a photo with a container of the hot-dog topping he invented. One would think, especially if one were one of the most beautiful and well-paid actresses in the world, that things could not get worse, relationship-wise.

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Ruth Graham is a regular Slate contributor. She lives in New Hampshire.

That was before the now ex-fiancé, Nick Loeb, launched a yearslong legal crusade over two frozen embryos. That crusade reached an absurd new low this week, when the embryos themselves sued Vergara in Louisiana. As Page Six first reported, the suit lists them as plaintiffs “Emma” and “Isabella” and claims that because they have not been born, they are being deprived of money being held for them in a trust in the state.

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The suit’s language is even more surreal than that summary might indicate. “Plaintiff EMMA is a female human being at the embryonic stage of life, five days old developmentally,” the section on the parties to the suit begins, according to a copy of the suit acquired by the Daily Beast. It goes on to assert that “by leaving Emma and Isabella in a tank in a medical clinic for more than three years and refusing to consent to their development or care, Vergara has effectively abandoned and chronically neglected and Emma and Isabella.” It asks the court to nullify a contract the couple signed, on the grounds that the contract had no provision for what would happen if they broke up. Vergara’s parental rights would be terminated.

The then-couple attempted in vitro fertilization twice in 2013 and signed a contract saying any resulting embryos would be brought to term only with both parents’ consent. They broke up soon afterward, and Vergara quite reasonably has no interest in seeing the remaining two embryos implanted in anyone’s uterus. Loeb apparently feels differently and has been using a series of escalatingly intrusive legal parries for the right to implant them in a surrogate. “Keeping them frozen forever is tantamount to killing them,” he wrote in an op-ed last year in the New York Times.

The suit alleges that Louisiana is an appropriate venue because the couple broke up there. It lists a trustee for the embryos named James Charbonnet, who lives in New Orleans and has no obvious ties to either Vergara or Loeb. Vergara lives in California, where the embryos are stored. Loeb lives in New York and Florida, although he went to college in Louisiana and still has some ties there.

A more likely reason that the suit is being filed in Louisiana is that the state passed a law in 1986 that declares embryos to be “juridical persons,” an entity different from a human being but endowed with many of the same rights. The law gives embryos the right to sue or be sued, and states that disputes must be resolved “in the best interest of the in vitro fertilized ovum.” As the Daily Beast reports, one of the lawyers who filed the suit has worked for anti-abortion law firms and spoken out frequently against Planned Parenthood.

Previously, Loeb had sued Vergara in California for custody of the embryos. He dropped that suit on Monday because a judge had ordered him to submit the names of former girlfriends who had abortions during their relationships. Indeed, that would have been an awfully icky thing to do. Really, can you even imagine anything ickier?