Skip to main content

Alabama High Court Rules Frozen Embryos Are 'Children' Protected by State Law

Share This article

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that frozen embryos are children subject to protection under state law. 

The 8-1 ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by three in-vitro fertilization (IVF) couples whose embryos were destroyed in 2020. The high court's ruling, which was released on Friday, reversed a lower court's ruling that had dismissed the complaint. 

The state's "Wrongful Death of a Minor Act" applies to unborn children, and the justices ruled that the law applies regardless of whether they are in the mother's body at the time. 

The high court wrote in its decision: "The ordinary meaning of 'child' includes children who have not yet been born." 

***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news.***

"Here, the text of the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act is sweeping and unqualified. It applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation. It is not the role of this Court to craft a new limitation based on our own view of what is or is not wise public policy," Justice Jay Mitchell wrote in the opinion on behalf of the majority.

"That is especially true where, as here, the People of this State have adopted a Constitutional amendment directly aimed at stopping courts from excluding 'unborn life' from legal protection," Mitchell continued. 

In a separate concurrence, Alabama Chief Justice Tom Parker wrote: "A good judge follows the Constitution instead of policy, except when the Constitution itself commands the judge to follow a certain policy. In these cases, that means upholding the sanctity of unborn life, including unborn life that exists outside the womb."

"Our state Constitution contains the following declaration of public policy: 'This state acknowledges, declares, and affirms that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life," Parker continued. 

Download the CBN News app for Free!

Justice Greg Cook, the only dissenting justice, argued in his opinion that the ruling could end IVF treatment in Alabama and that it was not the court's place to amend the current 1872 state law. 

"And, the main opinion's holding almost certainly ends the creation of frozen embryos through in vitro fertilization ('IVF') in Alabama," Cook wrote. "It is not my role to judge whether ending this medical procedure is good or bad -- but it doubtless will have a huge impact on many Alabamians. And it underscores the need to have the Legislature -- not this Court -- address these issues through the
legislative process."

But Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver praised the Alabama high 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," Staver said in a statement. "This important ruling has far-reaching implications."

Could Alabama Ruling Affect Florida Abortion Amendment Debate?

Using the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling as precedent, Liberty Counsel announced it had filed a supplemental authority on Monday with the Florida Supreme Court regarding a proposed abortion amendment to Florida's Constitution

Currently, the Florida Constitution protects the rights of a "natural person."

During oral arguments on Feb. 7, Florida Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz asked attorneys on both sides of the abortion issue if the ballot summary should apprise voters of how the proposed abortion amendment could impact the Constitution if its definition of "natural person" also included the unborn, according to Liberty Counsel. 

MORE: Florida Supreme Court to Determine Fate of Abortion Amendment

The nonprofit law firm said it is using the Alabama high court's latest ruling to argue that Florida's Constitution, like Alabama's, affirms "that an unborn child qualifies as a human life, a human being, and a person."

Replying to Chief Justice Muñiz's question, Liberty Counsel argues Florida's deceptive amendment proposal as written misleads voters by not explaining how it will take away a protected right to life for the unborn.

Staver said his law firm will argue Florida's proposed amendment, as currently written, defies current Florida laws protecting the unborn.  

"Liberty Counsel is using this precedent to argue that Florida's proposed deceptive and misleading abortion amendment violates Florida's own laws that routinely recognize that an 'unborn child' has the legally protected rights of a person," Staver said. 

He added, "Unborn life must be protected at every stage."

slider img 2

Share This article

About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of