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By Andrea Peyser
November 18, 2016
It didn’t seem possible. But the legal war over control of the sperm and eggs of sultry superstar Sofia Vergara and her businessman ex-fiancé, Nick Loeb, already horrifically twisted, just went nuclear.
And the fair, Colombian-born “Modern Family’’ TV star, who has cast herself as the victim in this tawdry mess, is responsible for making the fight even more grotesque.
A California judge has ruled in favor of Vergara, 44, in her quest to force Loeb, 41, to identify two women who underwent abortions after he impregnated them, one when he was 19 years old, the other when he was in his early 20s.
He appealed the appalling decision, but was turned down by an appellate court.
Slut-shaming, apparently, is de rigueur in this battle royale.
By taking the women to depositions, Vergara wants to prove that her ex, who has painted himself as a latter-day right-to-lifer desperate for young ones, never, in fact, wanted to be a dad.
He has claimed that at least one of his exes’ abortions was done against his will. I simply cannot fathom how Vergara can justify snooping around other women’s 20-year-old soiled sheets.
Loeb, born in Westchester County, is resisting — and, in my view, has gained the moral high ground.
“I would rather go to jail than reveal the names,’’ he told Page Six’s Emily Smith this week.
He doesn’t believe their names will remain secret, as Vergara’s side claims, if the women get roped into this drama. “I believe we have to protect a woman’s right to privacy,” he said.
And, guess what — he’s right.
How the devil will this epic and potentially landmark case — watched closely by would-be parents, religious conservatives and those in the thriving fertility industry, plus feminists and activists for men’s rights — be decided?
It started with a moneyed version of a modern family. Vergara and Loeb chose in 2013 to procreate with the help of in-vitro fertilization and rent-a-wombs — a.k.a. surrogate mothers — whom Loeb claims Vergara insisted on hiring. The pair signed a form agreeing that one party wouldn’t use the couple’s fertilized eggs without the consent of the other, an agreement Loeb now wants voided.
Their first two attempts to create children failed. As Loeb wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece published last year, he then gave his lover an ultimatum: Agree to use two remaining female embryos to create little girls, or he’d walk.
In May 2014, he did.
Then he sued Vergara to prevent her from destroying the fertilized eggs, putting the genetic material at the center of a custody dispute that reeks of Frankenstein’s monster, but could only happen in the present day.
The case, set to go to trial Jan. 23, could have implications for the legally unsettled future of in-vitro procedures. And it could veer into some tricky questions: Should a man have the same power as a woman over potential children? And should a woman be forced into motherhood against her wishes?
“Since these embryos were made in a petri dish instead of the traditional way, the male participant has more of an ability to control their destiny,’’ Sanford Benardo, president and founder of Northeast Assisted Fertility Group, which matches surrogates with prospective parents, told me. The company is not involved in this case.
“This is uncharted territory, legally,’’ Benardo said. “Scientific advancement has outpaced any kind of legal protection related to embryos.’’
Last year, Vergara married Joe Manganiello, 39, best known as the American actor who played a werewolf in the HBO series “True Blood.’’
Vergara has said through her lawyer that she wants the embryos to remain “frozen indefinitely.’’
Loeb countered in the Times that the deep freeze is “tantamount to killing them,’’ and seeks to implant them in a surrogate, absolving Vergara of all parental and financial responsibility to resulting children.
I believed that trying to force Vergara to become a mother, not by choice, was a slimy move, born of spite. But Vergara’s attempt to drag other women into the fray smacks of a scorched-earth attempt to prove herself the aggrieved party.
Vergara got into an awful pickle when she chose to make babies with this guy. The best thing that might come out of this sordid case is that in-vitro agreements are tightened to protect the children born into atrocious circumstances.