In an op-ed published by The New York Times
on Wednesday, Nick Loeb explained his rationale for fighting to keep the two female embryos he shares with the actress.
"I wanted to keep this private, but recently the story broke to the world," Loeb wrote.
"It has gotten attention not only because of the people involved -- my ex is Sofia Vergara, who stars in the ABC series "Modern Family" -- but also because embryonic custody disputes raise important questions about life, religion and parenthood."
Loeb says he met the actress in 2010 and they got engaged two years later, at which point they decided to create the embryos and conceive a child via a surrogate.
'We signed a form'
After two attempts failed to bring fertilized embryos to term, they created two more embryos using her eggs and his sperm.
"When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property?," he said. "... A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects. 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?"
Loeb said he filed a complaint against the 42-year-old actress to prevent her from destroying their two embryos conceived through in vitro fertilization. He filed it in August in Santa Monica, California, where they apparently lived while they dated.
"We signed a form stating that any embryos created through the process could be brought to term only with both parties' consent. The form did not specify -- as California law requires -- what would happen if we separated," he said. " I am asking to have it voided."
Who has the right to the embryos?
Representatives for Vergara have declined to comment in the past.
Loeb has said he believes "life begins at fertilization" and wants to implant the embryos in a surrogate and bring them to term. He said he doesn't want any money from the egg donor.
The case has led to questions about who has the right to embryos.
Typically, a prior legal agreement between a couple spells out who has ultimate authority, said fertility specialist Dr. David Tourgeman, who's not involved in this case.
"Usually when embryos are created, whether the couple is married or just consenting adults, there's usually a power of attorney that is described to these embryos, if they are frozen for future use," he said.
If no deal, a court steps in
In most cases, the mother or the origin of the egg is given power of attorney, although anyone can make a request, Tourgeman said.
If there's a disagreement, the courts usually get involved to decide who legally owns the embryos, he said.