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In re the Marriage of Witten

Supreme Court of Iowa
672 N.W.2d 768 (2003)


Facts

Before Tamera Witten (plaintiff) and Trip Witten (defendant) sought to have their marriage dissolved, the couple had attempted to become parents through the process of in vitro fertilization. After several unsuccessful embryo transfers, 17 fertilized eggs remained in storage at the medical facility. The Wittens had signed an embryo storage agreement that provided that embryos will not be used for transfer, release, or disposition without the signed approval of both parties. Upon the dissolution of the marriage, Tamera asked at trial that she be awarded “custody” of the 17 embryos. Trip did not want Tamera to use the embryos and asked the court to prohibit either party from doing so without the written consent of both parties. The district court relied on the embryo storage agreement to settle the dispute and enjoined either party from transferring, releasing, or utilizing the embryos without the written consent of the other. Tamera appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Ternus, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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