Alabama Supreme Court Rules Frozen Embryos are Children, Cites the Bible in Opinion

“frozen embryos are “children” entitled to the same legal rights as other “unborn children.” 

The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday reversed Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Jill Parrish Phillips’ decision to dismiss a lawsuit in which a couple sued an Alabama fertility clinic and hospital for the “wrongful death” of their frozen embryos in a ruling that was riddled with theology. The couple’s frozen embryos were destroyed after a hospital patient who accessed the freezer that held the embryos dropped them on the floor. The ruling means that the couple can sue for wrongful death.

“[T]he Wrongful Death of a Minor Act is sweeping and unqualified. It applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation,” the ruling said. “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. 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.”

The ruling pointed to the Alabama Constitution Section 36.06, which argues that each person was made in God’s image, meaning each life has an incalculable value that “cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God. 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,” the ruling stated, referring to the Alabama Constitution’s Section 36.06.


Parker then went on to cite two overtly Christian texts – “Theology Today” and “Manhattan Declaration: The Call of Christian Conscience” – to help define the phrase “sanctity of life” and argue that life begins at conception because, “all human beings bear God’s image from the moment of conception.”

From there, Parker went on to quote the Bible and another theological text that explained, in his words, “the significance of man’s creation in God’s image.”

Justice Greg Cook, the court’s lone dissenter, avoided the biblical arguments and instead focused on the laws as written, noting that nothing in the “wrongful death act” or Alabama law has defined an embryo as a “child.” Such a definition would be necessary to reach the court’s opinion, and it would need to be reached with legal arguments, not biblical ones. 



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