JOPLIN, Mo. — Jalesia McQueen and her ex-husband Justin Gadberry of Joplin, are disputing what should happen with their two frozen embryos. A Missouri appellate court ruled the two parties must split custody of the embryos–labeling them property, not people.
McQueen, who wants to have children, must now obtain consent from her ex-husband to use the embryos.
Tracey Martin, an attorney in Joplin says the appellate court’s decision abides by state law.
“The law in the State of Missouri requires that the wife not be pregnant at the time of the divorce because the court cannot award custody of unborn children,” explained Joplin attorney Tracey Martin.
And if the court did rule in McQueen’s favor, Martin says that decision could dive deeper into uncharted waters.
“DNA testing would show the now ex-husband is the father, which would without his consent, force him into being a parent then you have considerations of child support,” said Martin.
But, some medical experts appear to think differently.
“I’m very disappointed for Ms. McQueen because these embryos are clearly very important to her and they represent her only chance at reproducing, especially if these are embryos derived from her eggs,” said fertility expert Sr. Gilbert B. Wilshire.
Martin says several other states have made similar decisions in cases like this. She claims the reason it’s come up now in missouri is because appeals are expensive and cases like this haven’t made it this far in Missouri’s appellate courts.
In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled the embryos are marital property and cannot be used unless both parties sign a written agreement. However, it does little to end the legal battle, as plans are in the works to appeal the decision.
(story by KODE, Joplin – video report by KTVI via CNN)