Wow! Alabama Supreme Court Grants Frozen Embryos Legal Rights As Children

By Greg Moriarty | Wednesday, 21 February 2024 09:30 AM
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In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of Alabama has decreed that frozen embryos are to be accorded the same legal rights as children, and their disposal could be construed as a wrongful death.

This decision has been hailed by pro-life advocates and is the outcome of a lawsuit initiated by a group of in vitro fertilization (IVF) patients. Their frozen embryos were inadvertently destroyed in December 2020 when a patient accidentally dropped them after removing them from their cryogenic storage unit.

As reported by the Alabama Reflector, the lawsuit was filed against the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Mobile. The plaintiffs alleged that the facility had breached the Wrongful Death of A Child Act by discarding the embryos without their consent.

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Associate Justice Jay Michell, in his opinion, stated that he was unable to "recognize an unwritten exception for extrauterine children in the wrongful-death context." He further emphasized that the wrongful-death law "applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation."

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In a tweet celebrating the ruling, it was stated, "VICTORY! Alabama Supreme Court Rules Frozen Embryos are Unborn Children."

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Justice Michell further elaborated, "It is not the role of this Court to craft a new limitation based on our own view of what is or is not wise public policy." He added, "That is especially true where, as here, the people of this state have adopted a constitutional amendment directly aimed at stopping courts from excluding ‘unborn life’ from legal protection."

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Chief Justice Tom Parker also argued in favor of the ruling, stating, “that even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory." He added, “The People of Alabama have declared the public policy of this State to be that unborn human life is sacred. We believe that each human being, from the moment of conception, is made in the image of God, created by Him to reflect His likeness.”

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However, Justice Greg Cook, the lone dissenter, highlighted that the Wrongful Death Act does not explicitly define the term "minor child." He expressed apprehension that the ruling could potentially lead to the cessation of IVF treatments in Alabama.

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In his dissenting opinion, Justice Cook wrote, "There is no doubt that the common law did not consider an unborn infant to be a child capable of being killed for the purpose of civil liability or criminal-homicide liability." He further warned, "The main opinion’s holding will mean that the creation of frozen embryos will end in Alabama. No rational medical provider would continue to provide services for creating and maintaining frozen embryos knowing that they must continue to maintain such frozen embryos forever or risk the penalty of a Wrongful Death Act claim for punitive damages."

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This ruling underscores Alabama's robust pro-life legislation, which was enacted immediately after the overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022. Under the current law, Alabama prohibits all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, unless the mother's life is in serious danger.

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