We all have them in our past. The boyfriend or girlfriend who got away. It isn’t until later that you realize you dodged quite the bullet and ask yourself, “What in the world was I thinking?”
Poor Sofía Vergara, she must be thinking the same thing. Her former fiance, Nick Loeb, is suing the “Modern Family” megastar for control over two frozen embryos they created when they were together. He wants to take them to term; she wants to keep them frozen. Never mind that Vergara and Loeb signed an agreement when the embryos were fertilized; it states “no unilateral action can be taken with regard to the embryos unless both parties consent.” And that should be the end of this story, right?
I’ve been following “embryogate” for the past few weeks, but it wasn’t until Loeb penned an op-ed for the New York Times this week that the issue blew up. (He not only poorly argued his case in the piece, but also managed to subtly throw shade at Vergara and disclose private details about their relationship.) There are the philosophical and moral aspects of the story — on the question of when life begins, and the ethics and the fate of frozen embryos — and then the sensational and sentimental parts of it: Is it possible that Loeb is only acting as a scorned lover?
Loeb’s basic argument is that the two embryos should be treated as lives already created and that “keeping them frozen forever is tantamount to killing them.” His insistence on bringing to term these two particular embryos, with Vergara’s genetic material, amounts more to a fantasy he wants to fulfill at all costs. Loeb also says he would assume all parental responsibilities and custody of the babies, and that Vergara would simply be the egg donor. Well, wouldn’t every one like to have Sofía Vergara as their egg donor?
Loeb is right in stating that embryos are not simple “property’’ — this is not about a car or a house. But they’re also not “alive,’’ for the law does not recognize embryos as human life. Essentially, Loeb wants to force Vergara to become a parent, but she clearly does not want to have children with him. And he is ultimately suing to have their agreement voided because it didn’t specify what would happen if they separated.
Loeb and Vergara did try to have children. The former couple unsuccessfully pursued pregnancy through surrogacy twice. He now says he’s just defending his right to be a parent. But his right to be a dad is not being violated here — it’s not like he can’t conceive more children. All the same, Vergara has every right to protect her decision not to bring these embryos to term. Some have suggested money is Loeb’s motive. Who’s to say that Loeb won’t sue Vergara, who was named the highest paid actress on TV, for child support down the road? But Loeb’s family is famously rich. So he is only coming across as a pitiful, resentful ex-boyfriend who either wants revenge, or who wants to live off her fame.
In truth, most of us have played that part of the scorned lover. One has to assume that Vergara and Loeb experienced what at the time was a lovely and deep relationship. But it’s over now, and he should move on. Go and have somebody else’s eggs fertilized. If this drama were truly about his desire to become a father, he would leave the Vergara-Loeb embryos frozen in the past, and see them only as the natural consequence of feelings that were once there. But not anymore.
Marcela García is a Globe editorial writer. Follow her on Twitter: @marcela_elisa.