Davis Wants Custody if Embryos Allowed To Develop
Jul. 13, 1990
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A man whose sperm fertilized seven embryos now in frozen storage and in his ex-wife's control says he would seek custody if the embryos are implanted in some woman's womb and allowed to grow into children.
Custody of the embryos was awarded to his ex-wife in a divorce case, but Junior Lewis Davis is fighting that decision in court.
His lawyer, Charles Clifford, said Thursday that Davis has not changed his mind about the disposition of the embryos. Davis still thinks they should remain in frozen storage until he and his ex-wife, Mary Sue Davis Stowe, can agree on what should be done with them, Clifford said.
But if the courts rule that the embryos should be allowed to develop in a woman's womb, he said, Davis will try to gain custody of any resulting children.
Kurt Erlenbach, the attorney handling Mrs. Stowe's side of the appeal, said ''Yeah, well good luck,'' when told of Davis' plans to seek custody of any children produced from the embryos.
The embryos developed to between four and eight cells each before they were frozen at a Knoxville fertility clinic in December 1988. Davis and his ex-wife battled over control of them in a highly publicized divorce case last fall.
She since has moved to Brevard County in Florida and remarried.
Judge W. Dale Young ruled in favor of Mrs. Stowe, calling the embryos ''children in-vitro'' and granting them legal standing, treating them as if they were children in a custody case.
Davis has said he was raised in a single-parent home and knew it could be an unhappy experience. He said that was the reason he didn't want his ex-wife to have the embryos implanted in her womb in an effort to bear children.
He also objected to donating the embryos anonymously to some other infertile couple because he did not want to go through life wondering if the person he passed on the street was his child.
Mrs. Stowe, who initially said she wanted to have the embryos implanted, since has changed her mind and said she would support anonymous donation of the embryos to an infertile couple.
''The donation we're seeking is an anonymous donation so that Mary wouldn't know who has them, J.R. (Junior Davis) wouldn't know, and the persons to whom they were donated would not know the source,'' Erlenbach said. ''Under the law, if they are legally donated there is no possibility that he could have any more claim to them than a stranger would.
''It's analogous to an adoption in that, like an adoption, all parental rights are severed for the biological parents.''