In a storage facility in Beverly Hills sit two frozen female embryos, two microscopic organisms at the centre of a now two-year legal battle between the couple that created them in 2013; actress Sofia Vergara and her former fiancé, Nick Loeb.
On Friday, a federal judge in the US state of Louisiana threw out a suit spearheaded by the entrepreneur in which it was argued that the eggs have been “effectively abandoned” by the 45-year-old Modern Family star and deserve the right to be born.
But that’s just the latest step in this bitter and bizarre legal saga.
How did we get here?
It all began in 2015 when Loeb sued Vergara in a Californian court for custody of the fertilised eggs, which the pair created roughly a year before their relationship ended.
Loeb was seeking – and still is – to have the embryos implanted in a surrogate, and to raise them as a solo parent. However, the actress’ lawyer told E News she “is content to leave the embryos frozen indefinitely as she has no desire to have children with her ex”.
In an op-ed on the issue in The New York Times, Loeb argued that keeping the fertilised eggs frozen forever is “tantamount to killing them”.
“A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects,” he wrote. “Shouldn’t a man who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term even if the woman objects?”