Alabama Supreme Court: ‘Embryos are legally children’

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that frozen embryos are children, and that anyone who destroys one could be held legally accountable.

The ruling is in relation to a case brought by three couples whose embryos were accidentally destroyed at a fertility clinic when a patient accessed the storage area and handled and dropped the embryos.

The couples sued the Center for Reproductive Medicine and the Mobile Infirmary Association, but their original claim was dismissed by a lower court which said the law only applied to foetuses inside the womb, not embryos outside of it.

‘Children without exception’

The earlier judgment has now been overturned by the state’s Supreme Court. It said: “the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location”.

The organisations being sued argued that the law did not apply to embryos because they were not ‘in utero’, but the couples argued this raised a serious problem, in that if a child was gestated outside of the womb all the way to term, they would have no legal protections under Alabama law.

In his ruling, Justice Mitchell reiterated that “neither the text of the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act nor this Court’s precedents exclude extrauterine children from the Act’s coverage.

“Unborn children are ‘children’ under the Act, without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics.”

Image of God

Chief Justice Tom Parker explained that the sanctity of life is enshrined in the Alabama constitution.

all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory Alabama Supreme Court

“In summary, the theologically based view of the sanctity of life adopted by the People of Alabama encompasses the following: (1) God made every person in His image; (2) each person therefore has a value that far exceeds the ability of human beings to calculate; and (3) human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God, who views the destruction of His image as an affront to Himself.”

The state’s constitution “recognizes that this is true of unborn human life no less than it is of all other human life – that even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory”.

Alliance Defending Freedom described the Alabama ruling as a “tremendous victory for life”, saying: “No matter the circumstances, all human life is valuable from the moment of conception. We are grateful the Court correctly found that Alabama law recognises this fundamental truth.”

Also see:

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Embryo freezing at unprecedented level

Scientists create UK’s first three-parent babies

Synthetic ’embryos’ prompt major ethical concerns

Time limits on embryo experimentation abandoned

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