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Law School Case Brief

A.Z. v. B.Z. - 431 Mass. 150, 725 N.E.2d 1051 (2000)

Rule:

It is well-established that courts will not enforce contracts that violate public policy. While courts are hesitant to invalidate contracts on public policy grounds, the public interest in freedom of contract is sometimes outweighed by other public policy considerations; in those cases the contract will not be enforced.

Facts:

 During the parties' marriage, through the assistance of a fertility clinic, preembryos were created from the joining of wife's eggs and husband's sperm. Some of the preembryos were then frozen. Subsequently, the parties separated and plaintiff husband filed for divorce. The final divorce decree included a provision granting husband a permanent injunction preventing defendant wife from using the preembryos. Defendant wife appealed from that portion of a family court judgment that permanently enjoined her from utilizing frozen preembryos held in cryopreservation at a fertility clinic, arguing that a consent form signed by husband and wife when their sperm and eggs, respectively, were harvested entitled her to the use of the preembryos in the hopes of having additional children in the future. 

Issue:

Was the order prohibiting the wife from utilizing frozen preembryos held in cryopreservation at fertility clinic erroneous?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The order enjoining her from using the preembryos was affirmed by the Court. The Court held that the husband's interest in avoiding procreation outweighed wife's interest in having additional children, and public policy dictated that husband not be forced to become a parent against his will.

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