Legal considerations for cryopreservation of sperm and embryos



      To summarize the case law for cryopreservation of sperm and embryos and make recommendations for desirable characteristics that should be included in a cryopreservation clinic’s disposition agreements.


      A literature review of case law and legal review articles was performed.


      Academic research center.





      Main outcome measure(s)



      Two court cases involving cryopreserved semen and five cases involving cryopreserved embryos are reviewed.


      The state of the law surrounding cryopreservation is recent and unsettled. Disposition agreements can provide cryopreservation clinics some degree of certainty in this unsettled area of law. Those drafting cryopreservation disposition agreements are assisted by lessons learned from cryopreservation cases and insight gained from law review articles. It is evident that cryopreservation agreements will be most successful and most likely to be enforced if they are unambiguous, consistent with public policy, and include: a duration provision, each individual’s contact information, the individual’s provisions for use of their gametes in case of death, and responsibilities of cryopreservation clinic and individuals. Individuals must enter into agreements with a true understanding of the contained provisions.


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        • Waldman E.A.
        Disputing over embryos.
        Ariz State Law J. 2000; 32: 897-940
      1. Hecht v Superior Court. 1996 (50 Cal. App. 4th 1289)
      2. Hecht v Superior Court. 1993 (16 Cal. App. 4th 836)
      3. Woodward v Commissioner of Social Security. 2002 (760 N.E. 2d 257 (Mass. 2002))
      4. Litowitz v Litowitz. 2000 (102 Wn. App. 934)
      5. Litowitz v Litowitz. 2002 (48 P. 3d 261)
      6. Davis v Davis. 1992 (842 S.W. 2d 588)
      7. Kass v Kass. 1998 (91 N.Y. 2d 554)
      8. AZ v BZ. 2000 (431 Mass. 150)
      9. JB v MB. 2000 (331 N.J. Super. 223)
      10. JB v MB. 2001 (170 N.J. 9)
        • Vukadinovich D.M.
        Assisted reproductive technology law. Obtaining informed consent for the commercial cryopreservation of embryos.
        J Leg Med. 2000; 21: 67-78