Arizona Supreme Court enforces parties' contractual agreement on disposition of frozen embryos.

In Terrell v. Torres, 2020 WL 370239 (Ariz. 2020), the Arizona Supreme Court enforced a contract between a woman and a man over the disposition of fertilized embryos. The contract provided that the embryos would be the couple's joint property and joint consent would be required for their use or disposition. The contract provided that upon divorce or dissolution of the relationship, the embryos would either be donated to another couple or used to achieve pregnancy by implantation in one of the parties.


The couple subsequently got married and then divorced. After creation of the embryos, the woman underwent treatment for cancer that left her unable to bear a child without use of the embryos. She wanted the embryos for future implantation in her while her ex-husband wanted them donated to another couple.


Although there was ambiguity in the way the agreement was worded, the Arizona Supreme Court found that the agreement prohibited destruction of the embryos, as well as implantation in one of the parties unless both agreed. Since both did not agree, the only other option was donation to another couple.