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State Supreme Court Advances 'Personhood Movement' by Ruling Frozen Embryos Are Children


After the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos outside the womb are children, a major medical center in the state has put in vitro fertilization procedures on hold as it examines the ruling's impact.

Meanwhile, the pro-life movement is weighing in on the ruling's effect on their efforts to protect unborn lives by limiting abortion.

The high court's decision is unprecedented. The justices ruled that under state law, frozen embryos qualify as people, stating, "Unborn children are children.. without exception based on developmental stage."

"We're concerned that this ruling has far-reaching consequences for what we feel is safe to freeze and safe to discard," said Dr. Mamie McLean of Alabama Fertility.

The court's decision could hinder patients' access to fertility treatments. The justices found three couples can sue for wrongful death after their embryos were accidentally destroyed. 

The president of the Alabama Pro-Life Coalition says the court got it right.

"I think they did, and I think most of the pro-life community would agree that that is a correct decision," Eric Johnston said. "It's something that has been discussed from time to time, but this issue is really a new issue."

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"It's something, as I said, different from abortion, and it's much more complicated than abortion, but we do have to respect life and the way life is created, and that's exactly what these embryos do," he continued.

The CEO of Americans United for Life says the decision strengthens the "personhood movement", which says unborn children should be granted legal rights starting at conception.
"I think it definitely advances the cause of the 'personhood movement' with the understanding that pre-born humans in vitro or ex vitro are due the benefit of life for sure," John Mize said.

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Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver said the non-profit law firm is using the Alabama court's ruling in a similar case, arguing that Florida's Constitution – like Alabama's – affirms "that an unborn child qualifies as a human life, a human being, and a person."

"This is a very significant case, and we actually have notified the Florida Supreme Court of this decision because of another major case pending in Florida at the high court there with regards to abortion on the ballot potentially in November," Staver said.    

Alabama's largest hospital halted in vitro fertilization treatments Wednesday, saying it must determine the risk to patients or doctors of potential criminal charges or punitive damages.

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