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Divorced Couple Fight For Custody of Frozen Embryos

Photograph by Getty Images

When Mimi Lee and Stephen Findley decided to get married, they immediately faced a dilemma that no couple prepares for. Diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Lee was told the cancer treatments would likely leave her infertile. The couple decided to have their fertilized embryos frozen so that they would be able to conceive later.

Five years later, Lee is now a cancer survivor, but their marriage did not survive the horrific ordeal. The couple faces yet another life-altering battle as Lee sues for custody of the frozen embryos, while her ex-husband wants them to be destroyed.

Before the fertilization procedure, the couple signed a directive that said the embryos would be destroyed if the couple were to divorce. Lee has had second thoughts as she faces a personal dilemma, realizing that this may be her only opportunity to have biological children.

Lee and Findley are now involved in a monumental court battle that some believe will set a precedent for the way fertility clinics operate. The trial, which began Monday at the San Francisco County Superior Court, will determine if directives like the one Lee and Findley signed are enforceable.

A signed agreement to destroy the embryos may seem to be enough of a directive to toss this case out of court, but Lee's attorney argues that they signed a medical consent form, which should not be legally binding.

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