Ala. Supreme Court Rules Frozen Embryos are Legal Children, Deserve Protection

February 19th, 2024 2:40 PM

Sweet Home Alabama just got even sweeter for babies.

In a 8-1 vote the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are children and deserve the same legal rights as other unborn children do. 

In 2021 a wandering patient at a Mobile fertility clinic accidentally dropped and destroyed the embryos of three different couples. The couples sued The Center for Reproductive Medicine, who runs the mobile clinic but a circuit judge threw out the suit because, up until Friday, the embryos were not protected under the “Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.”

The ruling indicated that the patient removed the embryos from the freezer and likely got burnt from the subzero temperatures. The cryopreserved embryonic babies fell on the floor “where they began to slowly die,” reported. 

“‘The cryopreserved, in vitro embryos involved in this case do not fit within the definition of a ‘person,’ the trial court wrote in dismissing the cases,” according to Alabama Political Reporter.

On Friday, with its ruling, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit and indicated that a fertilized egg, whether in a woman’s womb or in a petri dish, deserves equal rights.

This Court has long held that unborn children are "children" for purposes of Alabama's Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, § 6-5-391, Ala. Code 1975, a statute that allows parents of a deceased child to recover punitive damages for their child's death. The central question presented in these consolidated appeals, which involve the death of embryos kept in a cryogenic nursery, is whether the Act contains an unwritten exception to that rule for extrauterine children -- that is, unborn children who are located outside of a biological uterus at the time they are killed.

Under existing black-letter law, the answer to that question is no: the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location.

The ruling also pointed to the Alabama Constitution Section 36.06 which indicates that everyone is made in God’s image and “cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God.” 

Critics insist that this ruling may impact In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Oftentimes couples will have multiple eggs fertilized resulting in multiple successful, scientifically created embryos. More times than not, the embryos that aren’t implanted are disposed of. This new ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court, will make it illegal to dispose of those embryos, those babies.

This is a good thing. Regardless of whether a child is conceived naturally or by artificial implantation, that child has value and has sanctity and deserves to be treated as such. Throwing embryos away should be considered murder, as, now in Alabama, it is. 

In response to the news, many online were peeved and insisted that the ruling was “horrifying.”

“This absurd ruling is medical malpractice & will end IVF in AL. People suffering from infertility now have no access,” one user wrote, which is so far from the truth it’s not even funny. You can still get IVF, just can’t kill babies made from IVF.

“MAGA GOP christo-fascists in Talibama's state legislature have decided that frozen embryos are "children." This is laying the groundwork to impose the death penalty on people who have abortions. If you think this is sick & fascistic, vote blue,” another user wrote

But fortunately, level headed pro-lifers applied the truth!

“Why are abortion supporters angrily proclaiming that losing the ability to kill embryos will ‘end IVF in Alabama’? It's because the IVF industry cannot survive without the killing of embryos. Creating excess embryos to eventually discard some is necessary for profitability,” one user wrote.

Lila Rose, president and founder of Live Action said the following in a press release:

This decision made by the Alabama Supreme Court affirms the scientific reality that a new human life begins at the moment of fertilization. Each person, from the tiniest embryo to an elder nearing the end of his life, has incalculable value that deserves and is guaranteed legal protection. This ruling, which involved a wrongful-death claim brought by parents against a fertility clinic that negligently caused the death of their children, rightly acknowledged the humanity of unborn children created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and is an important step towards applying equal protection for all.

Rose is right, we need equal and ample protection for all babies, regardless of how they were conceived. This Alabama ruling helps point that out and is a step in the right direction to facilitating a culture of life in this country.