These are not frozen embryos these are my daughters Emma

“These are not frozen embryos, these are my daughters Emma and Isabella!”: When Sofia Vergara was with her millionaire ex-fiancé, they tried to start an IVF family. Years after their separation, despite her vehement objections, he wants them to be born

Sofia Vergara's divorce was finalized relatively easily last week.

The Modern Family and Griselda star – one of the highest-paid actresses in the world – split from husband Joe Manganiello last year after seven years of marriage. The divorce proceedings were finalized “amicably” and Joe was awarded custody of the couple's Chihuahua, Pom Bubbles.

Of course it helped that there were no children there.

In an interview, Sofia admitted that the babies' will-we-don't-we issue contributed to the breakup.

“My husband was younger; “He wanted to have children and I didn’t want to be an old mother,” she said frankly.

Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb were together for ten years starting in 2010 and during that time they created four embryos through IFV.  Two didn't take it;  the other two remain frozen to this day

Sofia Vergara and Nick Loeb were together for ten years starting in 2010 and during that time they created four embryos through IFV. Two didn't take it; the other two remain frozen to this day

The glamorous actress said questions about whether she and Loeb would have children contributed to their eventual split

The glamorous actress said questions about whether she and Loeb would have children contributed to their eventual split

Sofia, 51, already has a son, 32-year-old Manolo, from a previous marriage and admitted she was thinking more about becoming a grandmother than becoming a mother again. What woman wouldn't sympathize in her situation?

However, one man has a very different – and quite startling – view of what the change in Sofia's circumstances could mean, both for her, for him, and for the children they both once wanted.

Between her two marriages, Sofia was in a relationship with Nick Loeb, an American businessman and actor and a scion of the famous banking family that founded Lehman Brothers.

He was also a younger man – ten years her junior – but the couple had been together for around four years as of 2010, getting engaged and planning a family. They underwent IVF, which produced four embryos. Two were implanted in a surrogate mother, but no pregnancy occurred.

The remaining two? Things get chaotic here.

They still exist, having long outlived the relationship of the couple who created them.

Those embryos are essentially frozen in time and cryopreserved at a clinic in California — and Nick still wants to use them, even if his famous ex clearly doesn't.

Not that Nick refers to them as “embryos.” For him they are more like “my children”, “my daughters”.

In this interview he occasionally uses their names, Emma and Isabella, which he says the couple agreed upon during their fertility treatment.

“They are ancestral names.” “I am very interested in genealogy and have a diverse ancestry,” he tells me. “I’m a quarter British, but I also have Spanish, Danish and German ancestry.”

Who publicly names an embryo? Maybe the same kind of person who sets up a trust fund for children who don't yet exist. And the guy who reacts with horror to the simple question of whether you can actually have a relationship with an embryo.

'What are you talking about?' he says. “People have relationships with embryos all the time.” Every time a woman becomes pregnant, she and her husband begin to build a relationship with that child, even at the embryonic stage. “What’s the difference between these embryos being implanted or cryopreserved?”

For an astonishing ten years, Nick, an anti-abortion activist, has continued to fight for the right to gain custody of these embryos and raise the children they could become.

It was an extraordinary fight that raises serious legal and ethical questions, but also – because of Sofia's celebrity status – seems like a particularly outlandish soap opera story.

But Nick's continued insistence that his embryos are children seems less outlandish when you consider the new front in the U.S. battle for reproductive rights that opened in the states this week when the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen Embryos should be considered children.

The ruling, which came after an embryo wrongful death lawsuit involving embryos lost at a fertility clinic in 2020, sent shockwaves across the United States and led Alabama's largest hospital to suspend some of its IVF services. stopped services because it feared that doing so could affect the rights of frozen embryos and expose them to criminal prosecution.

Some potential parents are now in the hellish situation of trying to determine whether they can transfer their embryos to other states.

Pro-life activists – including Nick – are watching this ruling closely. The question of when an embryo or fetus is legally considered a human is also at the heart of his fight.

“My embryos are in California, a state that does not recognize them as human persons, but if the US Supreme Court takes this up, it will have a bigger impact than just IVF,” he says.

So far, every court has denied Nick the “right” he believes he has – which is essentially to force biological motherhood on a woman who no longer wants it.

Sofia Vergara, who played Gloria on Modern Family (pictured), already has a 31-year-old son and has said she doesn't want to become a mother again at 51

Sofia Vergara, who played Gloria on Modern Family (pictured), already has a 31-year-old son and has said she doesn't want to become a mother again at 51

In the US, as in the UK, no embryo created during the IVF process may be implanted without the consent of both potential parents. Only in a few recorded cases has a court sided with a parent who wants to use an embryo despite the objections of his former partner. These were cases in which it was a woman's only chance at parenthood after cancer treatment.

Nevertheless, disputes involving the “custody” of embryos are becoming more and more common.

And with the law on both sides of the Atlantic now allowing frozen embryos to be stored indefinitely (prior to 2022, most embryos in the UK could only be stored for ten years), this high-profile case should serve as a real warning about how things can get disastrous go wrong.

Today, Nick even hints that Sofia's divorce could be a positive step for him, as her new single status – coupled with time – could lead to a change of heart on her part.

“She is now divorced and single again. She didn't want to raise children, but maybe that will change as she gets older and has more time. If she doesn't want to raise them, she might want to… visit them. I don't know.'

The story suggests that pigs could fly sooner, because from the moment Sofia broke up with Nick, she made it clear that she had no desire for the children they once planned to have together and was horrified by his Refusal to accept the status quo.

After listening to the story from his side, I can imagine she would only agree on one thing, and that is that couples undergoing fertility treatment that involves putting embryos on hold need an attorney in the room before they need a list of baby names.

“I think you should be told you need a lawyer.” Any other contract in America requires a lawyer. These consent forms consist of 30 pages. “There is no way I would have signed her if I had known how it would turn out,” says Nick.

There are so many breathtaking aspects of this story, but one of the most surprising is that – a full decade after this Nick and Sofia debacle began – he is a father in the more conventional sense.

Our interview will take place on Zoom. Colorful children's drawings can be seen behind him, although he declines to elaborate on the number of his children or their ages. He also won't say much about her mother, other than to say that she is from southern Italy, is Catholic, and shares his pro-life views.

“When this started, people said, 'You want kids, Nick, you can have kids with anyone,' but you know what? Being a father made me want my embryos even more. I play with my children. I see the life in them and think, “I have that, frozen.” It actually causes me more grief. “My children would have sisters.”

There was nothing particularly strange about how this story began. Nick and Sofia met at a party in 2013 and immediately became one of those beautiful Hollywood couples. He had trained as an actor, had political ambitions, but was best known as an entrepreneur (more specifically, as the creator of a condiment called Onion Crunch).

He suspects Sofia never really wanted more children, but he did – “she said she would do it for me” – and the chosen path was through IVF and surrogacy. Sofia is on record as saying that she was unable to carry a child due to previous radiation treatment for thyroid cancer, but Nick also suspects that carrying a child may have affected her TV show.

Whatever the motivation, they were thrilled when fertilization of their eggs with his sperm resulted in the creation of multiple embryos.

“I got text messages from her about 'our babies.'” She was so excited. These weren't embryos to be put aside for a rainy day. “We separated during implantation.”

Ms. Vergara is the star of the new Netflix series Griselda, based on the life of ambitious and ruthless cartel leader Griselda Blanco

Ms. Vergara is the star of the new Netflix series Griselda, based on the life of ambitious and ruthless cartel leader Griselda Blanco

Nick Loeb refers to the frozen embryos as his

Nick Loeb refers to the frozen embryos as his “daughters” and even calls them Emma and Isabella. Pictured: Loeb and wife Vergara in 2012

Court documents later revealed that the relationship, which ended in May 2014, was far from perfect. There were lurid claims from him that she behaved abusively, that she physically hit him “four times, that she punched him twice in the face, kicked him and threw her cell phone at his head” and that she called him names like “Loser” and “Worthless.” Sources close to Sofia vehemently denied these claims at the time. “Sofia never got physical with him. “It just didn’t happen,” a source told a US website. But in his eyes they were forever connected.

After the breakup, Nick texted Sofia saying, “We still have those two frozen babies (sic) so I guess we'll always have a weird connection.”

Nick's fight for these embryos has since involved courtrooms in Los Angeles and Louisiana (a state that also supports the idea that an embryo is a person).

In March 2021, the LA County Superior Court issued a permanent injunction prohibiting him from using the frozen embryos without her written consent. Last year he tried (unsuccessfully) to sue the fertility clinic on the grounds that it failed to inform him that he could be denied access to the embryos.

No court has yet accepted his argument that Sofia herself once considered these embryos to be “children” and therefore had the right to birth.

His dislike of her position becomes apparent. “In my eyes it's hypocrisy for her to go from that point of view to 'They're not human.'” “Of course an embryo is a human life.”

In his eyes, things are crystal clear. Life begins at fertilization, so disposing of an embryo is akin to killing a baby.

But the IVF process puts tens of thousands of couples in the position of deciding what to do with the leftover embryos. Would he then condemn everyone who chose to dispose of it?

“I think they kill lives,” he nods. “They should not create more embryos than they should use. You should donate to couples who want to use it. I think the solution to this is to create and implant one embryo at a time, eliminating the storage issue.”

What makes this case even more complicated is that Sofia could have pushed for the destruction of the embryos without her ex's consent, but she didn't. “She wanted them destroyed, but then she changed the narrative and said she wanted them preserved forever.”

He considers this tantamount to “killing” them, but at the same time seems to believe that as long as these embryos exist, there is hope.

“Maybe she'll go to church more, pray.” Maybe God will speak to her. Maybe she’ll change her mind and make sure these little souls don’t end up in purgatory.”

His pious attitude would be easier to understand if Nick had not personally approved the abortion. In his 20s and 30s, two partners had layoffs. “Then I didn’t understand,” he argues. “I saw it as a clump of cells, not as a human life.” I didn't really understand the pro-life issue until I got into politics.

“I grew up in a socially liberal household. If I had known that I had created a life, if I had truly understood that, I would have taken responsibility. Of course I still think about her. Both children would be in their twenties now.'

His political ambitions were never realized, but he managed to position himself as an anti-abortion activist with considerable success.

In 2019, he directed (and starred in) the controversial film Roe v Wade and remains deeply convinced that the days of the “liberal left” on this issue are numbered. “I truly believe that abortion will be banned in the States within my lifetime.”

Apparently, his harshest critics portray him as a crazy stalker motivated by a vendetta against Sofia.

“How is it a vendetta?” he says. “I don't want anything from her.” I don't ask for money. I waive the costs of childcare. I'll even pay them. “I would give her money to save these children’s lives.”

No wonder Sofia Vergara is now taking a position of silence on the matter and making it clear that she wants to move on. According to rumors, she is in a new relationship with orthopedist Justin Saliman.

However, as long as these embryos exist, her ex will not give up. He points out that children are now regularly being born from embryos that were frozen “16, 18, 20 years ago.”

And the current shifting sands in the dispute over reproductive medicine also give him hope.

“I believe in potential.” In the future. Things could change. “The laws could change and override this agreement,” he says, apparently convinced that time – which cannot be frozen – will be on his side.