Sunday, April 14, 2024

How changing the decision in Roe v. Wade influenced the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision saying frozen embryos are like kids

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A recent decision by the Alabama Supreme Court stated that frozen embryos are considered children. It means that if someone destroys these embryos, they could be responsible for causing wrongful death. This ruling highlights a potential impact on how state laws perceive embryos, especially in the context of overturning the Roe v. Wade decision.

This month, a court decided on two cases where parents claimed that embryos created through in-vitro fertilization were dropped and destroyed at a hospital in Mobile, Alabama. They wanted compensation for the harm. Initially, a lower court said the embryos weren’t considered people, but the state Supreme Court disagreed. They said the embryos falling under the Wrongful Death of a Minor law means they are treated like human beings.

This is the first time a U.S. court has said frozen embryos are legally considered people. The events leading to this go back to 2006 when Alabama changed its law to include unborn children in the definition of a person for homicide cases. In 2011, a court case established that the Wrongful Death Act applies to the death of a fetus in a miscarriage. In 2018, Alabama passed a law supporting the sanctity of unborn life.

Even though this law was made to limit abortions, the Supreme Court used it to say embryos should be seen as persons under state law for this case. They believe it’s better to include unborn children under the Wrongful Death of a Minor law rather than exclude them.

In a recent situation, lawyers have used a law from 1872 that lets couples sue for the wrongful death of a minor child. The Alabama Supreme Court now says that embryos outside the womb are legally the same as a child. So, anything bad happening to an embryo could be seen as the wrongful death of a minor, with legal consequences. Dr. Shaun Williams, a reproductive endocrinology partner at Illume Fertility in Connecticut, shared this in an email. He wasn’t part of the Alabama case but has been closely following it as a fertility specialist.

This move by Alabama is seen as another way to make getting an abortion harder. Even though fertility treatments aim to help couples have kids, embryos are only found outside the body in IVF clinics. Dr. Williams worries that this ruling will make it tough for some couples in Alabama to deal with the emotional and social effects of infertility. Going to another state for treatment is often not possible, especially when multiple clinic visits are needed each month.

Dr. Williams is also concerned that other states might copy this legal decision. With Roe v. Wade no longer protecting the right to abortion nationwide, each state can now make its own rules about abortion.

After Roe v. Wade, individual states can decide when life begins, and new laws against abortion may affect how infertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF) are handled.

IVF is a way to help people have babies when they can’t on their own. In IVF, eggs and sperm meet in a lab, and the resulting embryos are placed in a woman’s uterus to try to make her pregnant.

President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision was a direct result of Roe being overturned.

In 2024, women in America are facing problems getting healthcare, having to travel long distances for it, and doctors are scared of getting in trouble for helping with abortions. Now, a court in Alabama is making it harder for some families trying to have a baby through fertility treatments. Biden is upset about how women are being kept from making decisions about their health and families. He says it’s wrong and won’t stop fighting until the protections from Roe v. Wade are brought back for all women in every state.

Alabama lawmakers on Thursday introduced a new state law. It says that a fertilized human egg or embryo outside a human womb won’t be considered an unborn child or person according to state rules.

In the national government, Democratic lawmakers brought in a law last month. It aims to protect access to infertility treatments like IVF. This law, called the Access to Family Building Act, would make it a legal right for patients to use assisted reproductive technology. They can also decide how sperm or egg cells are used in these treatments.

On a countrywide level, the Access to Family Building Act would be more important than state laws. Especially when it comes to throwing away a patient’s embryos during the IVF process or ending a pregnancy when a patient has multiple embryos put in while using assisted reproductive technology. The law was introduced in both the House and Senate, but nothing significant has happened with it yet.

“From the start, I’ve been saying that the decline of Roe v. Wade isn’t just about abortion. The recent decision from the Alabama Supreme Court confirms this,” stated Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth in an email on Thursday.

“With the court’s decision in Alabama, it’s evident that we need to pass my Access to Family Building Act to make sure everyone in America has the legal right to access IVF and ART. We shouldn’t make women and their doctors criminals just because they want to have children, whether it’s in Alabama or any other state in the U.S.”

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