Supreme Court Says Couple Can Continue Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Destruction Of Frozen Embryos

( – A state Supreme Court is bringing the abortion debate back into the news cycle. Alabama justices affirmed the state’s incredibly pro-life Wrongful Death Of A Minor Act and an amendment passed in 2018 to the state’s constitution which qualifies embryos as unborn children for legal purposes.

The 8-1 ruling was in response to an appeal wherein the lower court had dismissed the case; the case will now be allowed to proceed on the merits. The Alabama Supreme Court left several issues to be determined by those courts.

The case stems from destruction of several human embryos due to an accident. The families in question sued the clinic for negligence and wrongful death. The defendants had the case dismissed on the grounds that wrongful death doesn’t apply to embryos outside the body. This ruling reverses that position.

Justice Mitchell, writing for the majority, noted that fertilized embryos are considered “unborn children” in the state of Alabama, regardless of whether or not they’re in a womb. He drew attention to the state’s constitutional amendment and the Wrongful Death Of A Minor Act which are both relevant legislation. Mitchell wrote that the court was restrained from enacting limitations or otherwise creatively interpreting the text while arguing that the text makes “sweeping and unqualified” protections for embryos a fixture in Alabama law.

The dissenting opinion by Justice Greg Cook said that the ruling would severely impact the practice of regular in vitro fertilization (IVF), the standard of care for specific types of fertility issues. In his dissent, he said that this court is alone in affirming that embryos are considered legally protected humans.

A co-current opinion filed by Chief Justice Tom Parker again drew attention to the letter of the law in Alabama’s state constitution, suggesting that they are charged to regard every unborn life as a potentially viable human. He also referenced multiple bible verses, specifically suggesting the text of Jeremiah 1:5 was effectively enshrined into law. He also quoted Genesis and Exodus, drawing criticism.

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