A Statement from Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod

Last year, news outlets reported on the story of Ruby Torres, a woman in Phoenix who lost her rights to bring her in vitro embryos to birth in a divorce proceeding.

Today, Arizona lawmakers made clear that public policy favors awarding the embryos to the spouse most likely to bring them to birth. A spouse should not lose rights to his or her in vitro embryos in a divorce dispute simply because the other spouse no longer wants to be a parent.

The Arizona House of Representatives passed SB 1393 by a vote of 33-25-2, making sure that courts in a divorce dispute will award in vitro embryos to the spouse that wants them for the purpose of having children. The measure now goes to Governor Ducey for his consideration.

In 2014, before undergoing treatment for cancer, Ruby Torres and her fiancée agreed to complete in vitro fertilization so that they could have children in the future. They created frozen embryos. Ruby underwent cancer treatment, and her cancer went into remission. However, their marriage ended in a divorce, leaving a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to decide how to award their embryos. Ruby wanted the embryos because they were likely her only chance to have biological children. Her husband did not want Ruby to be awarded the embryos because he was concerned with future financial obligations. The Superior Court judge noted that Arizona law is silent on the matter, and ordered the embryos to be donated to a fertility bank or another couple.

SB 1393 ensures that spouses in Ruby’s position will be awarded the embryos and will not be at risk of losing them to a third party. The bill properly balances the interest of both spouses because it provides that the spouse that does not want the embryos is not liable for any child support for any resulting child, and that any resulting child does not have any legal interest in that spouse.

I applaud the House and the Senate for their bold actions in protecting parental rights.

Center for Arizona Policy promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious freedom. For more information, visit azpolicy.org.

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