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Alabama court cites Bible while ruling embryos are children

A lone dissenting justice believes his fellow Republicans erred in their ruling, claiming the decision could curtail IVF procedures in Alabama.
Alabama court cites Bible while ruling embryos are humans
Posted at 1:05 PM, Feb 19, 2024

The Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a group of couples who sued a hospital that had their frozen embryos at the time they were destroyed.

According to a court filing, the frozen embryos were stored at the Mobile Infirmary Medical Center. The embryos were being stored for couples who may consider having an in vitro fertilization procedure.

The couples say that a patient was able to wander into the hospital's fertility clinic and remove several embryos from the freezer. 

The patient then dropped the embryos onto the floor, causing them to die, the documents show. 

The couples sued the hospital under Alabama's Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. The court said that the act applies to all children, born and unborn, and without limitation. The court added that it is not up to them to craft limitations to the act. 

"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,'" the justices wrote in their majority opinion, referring to the Sanctity of Unborn Life Amendment. 

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That then led the justices to explore the definition of the "sanctity of life" in their decision, which prompted numerous references to the Bible.

"The theologically based view of the sanctity of life adopted by the People of Alabama encompasses the following: God made every person in His image; each person therefore has a value that far exceeds the ability of human beings to calculate; and human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God, who views the destruction of His image as an affront to Himself," the ruling states. "Section 36.06 recognizes that this is true of unborn human life no less than it is of all other human life -- that even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory."

Of the nine Republicans on the state Supreme Court, only Justice Greg Cook fully dissented to the opinion. 

"There are other significant reasons to be concerned about the main opinion's holding," he wrote. "No court -- anywhere in the country -- has reached the conclusion the main opinion reaches. And, the main opinion's holding almost certainly ends the creation of frozen embryos through in vitro fertilization ("IVF") in Alabama."

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