Ontario court decides embryo is property in divorce

Aug 2, 2018

An Ontario court has decided a divorced woman can keep a frozen embryo she and her ex-husband had bought and can use it to impregnate herself.

The decision as to ownership of the embryo - created from donated sperm and eggs - turned on contracts the couple signed when they embarked on the fertility process that resulted in a son.

The couple, identified only as DH and SH, married in early 2009. In 2012, according to court records, they paid more than $11,000 to a U.S. facility to buy donated eggs and sperm from which four embryos resulted - two of them remained viable.

The couple split up at about the same time their son was born in December 2012, leading to an acrimonious divorce and the dispute over the remaining embryo.

Sara Cohen, a Toronto-based lawyer with expertise in fertility issues, says this is the first time she knows of in which a judge explicitly stated that an embryo should be treated as property.