Modern Family TV star Sofia Vergara breaks silence over embryo custody battle

Sofia Vergara attends the "China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday in New York City. -- PHOTO: AFP
Sofia Vergara attends the "China: Through The Looking Glass" Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday in New York City. -- PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Television star Sofia Vergara has broken her silence about her legal battle with her ex-boyfriend over control of the frozen embryos the pair conceived while they were still a couple.

In an interview Monday, the 42-year-old Modern Family star insisted she's "doing the right thing" in refusing to sign over custody of the embryos to businessman ex-boyfriend Nick Loeb.

Loeb, 39, signed an agreement with Vergara, America's top-earning TV star, in November 2013 before they proceeded with in vitro fertilisation, stating that nothing could be done with the embryos unless they both agreed.

Loeb, however, is suing the actress for custody, saying that the agreement did not clearly state what would become of the embyros if he and Vergara were to break up.

The fertilised eggs remain in a Florida clinic, and Vergara refuses to give him permission to unfreeze them.

"Can you blame me?," the Colombian-born bombshell said on the Howard Stern Show of her decision not to allow the embryos to be implanted in a surrogate mother.

A child brought into the world, Vergara said, needs "more than a mother, it needs a loving relationship of parents".

"I'm doing the right thing," she continued. "I didn't do anything wrong. You know, because somebody changes their mind."

Loeb gave his side of the dispute in an opinion article published last week in the New York Times.

"A woman is entitled to bring a pregnancy to term even if the man objects. Shouldn't a man who is willing to take on all parental responsibilities be similarly entitled to bring his embryos to term even if the woman objects?" the Florida businessman wrote.

"These are issues that, unlike abortion, have nothing to do with the rights over one's own body, and everything to do with a parent's right to protect the life of his or her unborn child."

The actress, who broke up with Loeb in 2014 and has an adult son, became engaged late last year to Hollywood actor Joe Manganiello.

She also is forging ahead with her stellar acting career: Forbes magazine in September called her the "most powerful woman in television," saying Vergara was paid US$37 million (S49.35 million) last year from her starring role in the hit sitcom Modern Family and a raft of lucrative endorsement and licensing deals.

Her earnings eclipse even those of the industry's highest paid male star, Ashton Kutcher, who earned US$26 million.