Alabama Supreme Court Rules Frozen Embryos Are Children

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Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday the state will consider frozen embryos as “children,” allowing three couples to sue for wrongful death after a hospital patient allegedly destroyed their embryos.

Three Alabama couples had attempted to sue a state fertility center, the Center for Reproductive Medicine, and the hospital, Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, where their frozen embryos had been stored in 2021 before allegedly being destroyed by a hospital patient, according to Attorneys for the hospital and fertility center claimed the couples could not sue for wrongful death due to state laws not covering embryos outside of the mother’s womb, leading Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Jill Parrish Phillips to dismiss the case in 2022, the outlet reported.

In the new ruling from the state’s supreme court, the justices stated the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, which the hospital and fertility center’s attorneys used in their argument, “applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location.” Alabama Supreme Court Justice Jay Mitchell wrote in his filing the Act not only applies to all children “without limitation,” but noted it was not the role of the Court to decide a “new limitation” based on their “own views” within public policy.

“[T]he 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. 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 wrote.

In their 2021 lawsuit, the couples claimed Mobile Infirmary “allowed one of its patients to leave and/or elope from his or her room in the Infirmary’s hospital area and access the cryogenic storage area,” according to Once the patient had allegedly removed the embryos from the freezer, the couples claimed, the “subzero temperatures burned the eloping patient’s hands, causing him or her to drop the cryopreserved embryonic human beings on the floor, where they began to slowly die,” the lawsuit stated.

It is unclear if the couples will continue pursuing legal action against or seek damages from the two places now following the state supreme court’s ruling.