Sofia Vergara faces a court claim which names the pair of female fertilised eggs – identified in court papers as Emma and Isabella – as plaintiffs in a case in which they are ‘demanding the right to live’.
The lawsuit in Louisiana argues that by not being born, the embryos have been deprived of an inheritance from a trust set up for them in the state.
It is the latest twist in a bitter dispute between Miss Vergara and her ex-fiance, businessman Nick Loeb.
Their very public battle has sparked debate in the US about the ethics of IVF and whether men and women should have equal rights over frozen embryos. Miss Vergara, a 44-year-old Colombian American, earned an estimated £34million last year as the star of the hit TV series Modern Family. It put her behind only Jennifer Lawrence as the world’s highest paid actress.
She and Mr Loeb created the embryos using IVF in 2013 when they were trying to conceive. They signed a standard agreement with the Beverly Hills fertility clinic where the embryos are stored, saying they would be brought to term only if both parents agreed.
The couple split up in 2014 after four years together. Mr Loeb, who says he was raised a Catholic, is now determined to bring the embryos to full term. He says he is strongly pro-life and believes life begins at conception. In his latest legal claim, he is asking for full custody over the frozen embryos so they can live and receive money from the trust set up to pay for their education and health care.
He claims the agreement the couple signed at the time is invalid as the clinic failed to follow California law by including a clause on what would happen to the embryos if they split up. Mr Loeb was able to file the lawsuit in Louisiana, a pro-life state which offers legal protection to frozen embryos, because he went to university there.
Miss Vergara, who had a son when she was 20 during her first marriage to a childhood sweetheart, said last year that it would be selfish to have a baby without being in a loving relationship. ‘I wouldn’t want to bring kids into the world where it’s already set against them,’ she has said.
Mr Loeb filed his first lawsuit against the actress in 2015, claiming her insistence on keeping the embryos frozen indefinitely was tantamount to murder. But he dropped the case when a judge sided with a demand by Miss Vergara’s lawyers that he reveal the identity of two women whom he admitted had abortions after conceiving a child with him.
Miss Vergara insists her ex-boyfriend is a hypocrite over his supposed anti-abortion beliefs and is simply fighting the lawsuit for publicity.
Mr Loeb wrote in the New York Times last year: ‘A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects. Shouldn’t a man willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term even if the woman objects?’
The son of an ex-US ambassador and a mother who barely featured in his life, Mr Loeb said he had always ‘dreamed of being a parent’. Of the two female embryos he and Miss Vergara created, he said: ‘I was so excited once the lives were created that I began to suggest names we could call the girls.’
© Daily Mail