- Mario Villegas has sued a Phoenix clinic for giving his then-wife abortion pills four years ago.
- In 2019, he filed a motion to become the seven-week-old embryo’s representative, according to ProPublica.
- “All he wants is to make sure this doesn’t happen to another father,” his lawyer said.
An Arizona man is suing the clinic that gave his ex-wife abortion pills – nearly four years after she was fired.
Mario Villegas and his then-wife went for an abortion in July 2018 at a clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, ProPublica reported. The following year, Villegas heard of a man who had sued an Alabama clinic after creating an estate for the six-week-old embryo. He then set out to do something similar, according to ProPublica.
He filed a request to be appointed representative of the “Baby Villegas” estate in August 2020, prompting his wife to seek legal aid.
J. Stanley Martineau, an Arizona attorney who represents Villegas, argued in court papers that his ex-wife did not give a valid form of abortion consent.
The clinic did not obtain her “informed consent because she did not tell her about the immediate and long-term medical risks associated with abortion that a reasonable patient would consider important, including the loss of bond and the intense and emotionally satisfying maternal relationship inherent in giving birth to and raising this child,” the lawsuit states.
But Villegas’ ex-wife signed four consent documents, ProPublica reported, including checking a box that read “I am comfortable with my decision to terminate this pregnancy.”
Villegas, according to ProPublica, began to refer to and view the completed embryo as a girl. But Villegas and his then-wife never learned the sex of the embryo, which ended at seven weeks in 2018.
In court filings reviewed by ProPublica, the woman said she and her ex-husband talked about divorcing even at the time of the abortion.
“We weren’t happy together at all,” she said in a deposition.
Her lawyer, Louis Silverman, argued in 2021 court documents that the decision to seek to become the embryo’s representative violated her constitutional right to an abortion.
“U.S. Supreme Court case law has long protected a woman’s constitutional right to obtain an abortion, including that the decision to do so rests with the woman alone – even when her partner, spouse or her ex-spouse does not agree with this decision,” Silverman said, according to ProPublica.
Last month, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion a nationwide constitutional right, leaving the legality of abortion in the hands of each state.
By overturning Roe, the Supreme Court essentially made it illegal in at least 22 states to obtain an abortion. Additional restrictions are expected in several other states.
Martineau, Villegas’ lawyer, said he was not interested in obtaining damages.
“All he wants is to make sure this doesn’t happen to another dad,” Martineau said, according to ProPublica.