By: Erin Hollenkamp
The Texas Supreme Court has refused to hear a unique custody battle over frozen embryos.
Augusta Roman had sought custody of three frozen embryos following her Texas divorce with her husband Randy. Following years of infertility treatments, Augusta thought she was getting her best chance to get pregnant when a doctor fertilized six of her eggs with her husband's sperm back in 2002.
However, prior to the embryos being implanted in his wife's womb, Randy Roman backed out on the procedure. After apparently fighting doubts about his marriage for quite some time, the possibility of having children with his wife was the ultimate realization for Randy that he truly wanted a divorce.
Following failed marriage counseling, the couple proceeded with the divorce and began to argue about what to do with the embryos. Augusta Roman wanted possession of the embryos and for them to be implanted in her womb. In doing so, Augusta Roman said that she would absolve Randy from all child custody and other financial and parental obligations in the future.
Randy Roman asked that the embryos be destroyed, saying that he could not turn his shoulder on his "genetic offspring." He also cited a cryopreservation agreement signed by both parties in late March of 2002. That agreement said that the embryos would be destroyed in case of divorce.
With that in mind, the argument ensued in court. A Houston trial court initially ruled that the embryos be given to Augusta Roman. However, Randy appealed and won. The case eventually moved to the Texas Supreme Court in anticipation of more discussion on what to do with the embryos.
With that said, the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear Augusta Roman's request in the custody battle primarily on the basis of the cryopreservation agreement stating that the embryos be destroyed if the couple was to divorce. Furthermore, the Texas Supreme Court did not issue an opinion with the ruling in this case, Roman v. Roman. Randy Roman will get his wish and have the embryos destroyed. As for Augusta Roman, her dreams of having a child, at least via these embryos, will not happen.
Could this unique custody battle be a sign of future issues concerning in-vitro fertilization and what to do with embryos during divorces?
While the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear this custody battle, it will be interesting to see if similar cases develop in other states in the future and what will be ruled, especially if language in cryopreservation forms addressing what to do with the embryos in divorce does not exist.