Closer Look on Contracts for Cryopreservation
Due to the significant number of court disputes over frozen sperm and embryos, fertility clinics nationwide are reviewing their cryopreservation contracts. Most court cases are filed when a couple divorces.
An article in the recent issue of Fertility and Sterility points out that court cases clarify two important issues. One is the definition of frozen sperm and embryos as “persons, property or unique materials that are neither persons nor property”. The other issue is the disposition of the frozen gametes or embryos. Overall, the courts ruling has been to consider the intentions of the involved parties and public policy.
Drs. Kettel and Hummel make an effort to eliminate disputes by clearly wording patient consent forms for cryopreservation. Since SDFC is not a long-term storage facility, patients’ specimens are stored for a maximum of two years. If the patient doesn’t contact SDFC and the staff can’t locate the owner after two years, the semen specimen will be disposed. The agreement to store frozen embryos runs three years and can be renewed for an additional two years. The consent form also requires the couple’s decision about disposal of frozen embryos in case one partner should die or in case the couple divorces.