Abortion, Alabama and Embryos as Children

Abortion, Alabama and Embryos as Children

Chido Nwangwu writes about the recent landmark ruling of the Supreme Court of Alabama in the United States to the effect that embryos and fertilized eggs are considered children under the Alabama Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.

The Supreme Court of Alabama, one of the most conservative states in America, ruled on Friday February 16, 2024 that frozen embryos are like children/people, therefore, constitute human lives.

The embryonic issues surrounding when life begins and the complex implications of the termination of any pregnancy continue to escalate.  They’re at the sensitive and divisive flashpoints over reproductive rights. Those who are opposed to this position argue that abortion is wrong, constitutes the killing of unborn children and is against American moral values.

Without any doubt, the stakes are high and the consequences are enormous for those who are in agreement or disagreement with the Alabama Supreme Court.

In the abortion debate and battles, it is what the conservatives broadly regard as “personhood” for the embryo.

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Jay Mitchell wrote for the majority that embryos and fertilized eggs are considered children under the Alabama Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. That is, even if they have not been implanted in a uterus.  The key point being that:

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

He mentioned a graphic example regarding”unborn children who are located outside of a biological uterus at the time they are killed.”

Essentially, the Court has returned the abortion/pro-choice versus pro-life debate ahead of the November 2024 elections.  The controversies will flare up, and all the dangerous, threats and actions are likely to return.

“No court — anywhere in the country — has reached the conclusion the main opinion reaches,” Justice Greg Cook wrote in his dissenting opinion in the case, adding that it “almost certainly ends the creation of frozen embryos through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Alabama.”

U.S President Joe Biden and his liberal Democratic Party push for the pro-choice agenda while his likely opponent, former President Donald Trump (if he’s derailed by one or more of the cases he’s facing in several courts here in the United States) and the Republican Party stand for the “pro life” agenda.

Biden’s White House condemned the Alabama Supreme Court decision as reflecting “exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make.”

On the conservative side of the ideological spectrum came this response from the Liberty Counsel, an evangelical Christian group to the Court’s ruling:

“Every unborn life is a human being. Every human life begins as an embryo, and now the Alabama Supreme Court has upheld the decision of its citizenry that every unborn life should be protected, no matter their stage or location.”

That’s the declaration of its founder and Chairperson Mat Staver.

Meanwhile, Lila Rose, founder of the anti-abortion group Live Action, has called on other states and the federal government to follow the Alabama move to fight against abortion/pro-choice, arguing that:

“Laws that allow the homicide of children in the womb through abortion violence violate equal protection and are unconstitutional…. The Alabama Supreme Court decision should be applauded and used as a model of honest and prudential jurisprudence nationwide.”

In terms of its impact on women’s health , the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility announced it has put on hold its IVF treatments, stating:

“We are saddened that this will impact our patients’ attempt to have a baby through IVF, but we must evaluate the potential that our patients and our physicians could be prosecuted criminally or face punitive damages for following the standard of care for IVF treatments.”

It is equally important to note that Alabama added to the State constitution in 2018, the following words and position: “it is the public policy of this state to ensure the protection of the rights of the unborn child.”

Let’s see what the United States Supreme Court will say, soon.

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