Children's Issues Courts

Alabama Supreme Court Drops Bombshell: Frozen Embryos Declared Children

In a recent decision, the Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that frozen embryos possess the same legal rights as “unborn children,” raising concerns about the future of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in the state. The ruling came in response to lawsuits filed by three couples who alleged that their frozen embryos were destroyed while stored at the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center by the Center for Reproductive Medicine. The court overturned the previous dismissal by a lower court, stating that the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applied to all unborn children, regardless of their location.

The incident leading to the lawsuits occurred when a patient at the Mobile hospital gained unauthorized access to the cryogenic storage area, resulting in the dropping of the embryos and their subsequent demise due to subzero temperatures. The couples accused the hospital of wrongful death, negligence, and breach of contract. The Supreme Court’s ruling emphasized the broad applicability of the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, asserting that it covers all children, born and unborn, without limitation.

Supreme Court Justice Jay Mitchell highlighted the act’s unqualified nature, stating that it applies to all unborn children and emphasizing the court’s role in upholding the people’s constitutional amendment aimed at protecting “unborn life.” Chief Justice Tom Parker, in a concurring judgment, referred to the “sanctity of life” provision in the state constitution, incorporating religious connotations. Parker argued that recognizing human life as an endowment from God aligns with foundational principles of English common law.

However, Justice Greg Cook, the sole dissenter, expressed concerns about the potential impact of the ruling on the IVF process in Alabama. Cook argued that the decision, unique in the country, could effectively end the creation of frozen embryos through IVF in the state. The conservative perspective here underscores the potential consequences of the ruling, both in terms of the legal status of frozen embryos and its implications for medical practices like IVF.

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