The Texas Supreme Court has decided not to hear the appeal of a Denton woman seeking legal recognition of embryos as children in a recent divorce case.

Caroline Antoun and her ex-husband, Gabriel Antoun, had signed an agreement during their divorce stating that Gabriel would retain ownership of the embryos, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

However, Caroline argued that recent changes in Texas abortion laws, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, should also extend protections to embryos as “persons” in custody disputes. Still, the lower courts and now the state’s highest civil court have upheld the embryos’ status as property.

The case has sparked broader discussions about the implications of the court’s decision, particularly in the context of reproductive technologies like IVF.

Advocates like Caroline’s attorney, Jason Niehaus, expressed disappointment with the court’s decision, emphasizing that their intent was never to equate embryos with persons but to apply existing legal frameworks to custody disputes involving embryos.

“The argument was that the court, in awarding the embryos during divorce proceedings, should consider the possibility of life there and should take into account considerations consistent with how you award possession, care, custody, and control of children during divorce. The position was never ‘these are people,'” Niehaus told KERA News.

In another significant legal development, the Texas Supreme Court intervened to block Harris County’s Uplift Harris welfare program. The program aimed to provide a $500 monthly stipend of taxpayer money to low-income families without any strings attached and intended to distribute $20.5 million of federal taxpayer money to nearly 1,900 eligible families over an 18-month period, per the Texas Scorecard.

The court’s decision, issued as a “stay,” prevents Harris County from proceeding with the distribution of taxpayer money pending further legal review.

“The State of Texas contends this arrangement is unconstitutional in multiple ways, including that it violates the Texas Consitution’s bar on ‘gratuitous payments to individuals,'” reads the decision.

“Today’s stay prevents the County from disbursing the funds to individual recipients or to third-party intermediaries until further order of this Court,” the opinion delivered by Justice Jimmy Blacklock continued.

Blacklock further argued that the Uplift Harris welfare program lacks targeted guidance, allowing recipients to make their own spending decisions without restrictions. The justice drew a distinction between Uplift Harris and traditional welfare programs, noting that programs like food stamps or vouchers are specifically targeted towards defined or singular purposes.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Attorney General Ken Paxton initiated a legal challenge against the program, claiming that Uplift Harris violated the Texas Constitution by improperly allocating taxpayer money without sufficient oversight.

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee expressed disappointment with the court’s ruling, emphasizing concerns over the potential implications for similar initiatives nationwide. Menefee criticized the decision as a setback for efforts to redistribute wealth through taxpayer-funded initiatives.

“I disagree with this decision, which could impact how the GOP attacks similar programs across the US,” Menefee posted on X.