JNix / Shutterstock.com

A recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that embryos are considered children is splitting Americans, including conservatives and pro-life advocates, on when life begins and the uses of IVF, surrogacy, and other fertility treatments. The ruling came down mid-February regarding a wrongful death case from three couples against a family planning clinic. The couples had embryos destroyed during an accident in the clinic, and the court ruled to allow the wrongful death suit based on an 1872 Alabama state law that permitted parents to sue over the wrongful death of a minor child. That includes unborn children, according to Justice Jay Mitchell in the majority opinion. “Unborn children are ‘children’ … without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics,” he wrote. Chief Justice Tom Parker concurred, citing the Bible and a previous amendment to the state’s constitution in 2018 that protected “the sanctity of unborn life.” Quoting Genesis, Parker said the principle had “deep roots that reach back to the creation of man ‘in the image of God.’”

Pro-abortion advocates saw the ruling as another strike against reproductive rights since the overturning of Roe v Wade. Rachel Laser, CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, cited it as an example of “Christian nationalism” and an attempt to weaken the separation between church and state. “Now we’re in a place where government officials feel emboldened to say the quiet part out loud and directly challenge the separation of church and state, a foundational part of our democracy,” she said. Others warned that the ruling left other family planning clinics vulnerable to lawsuits, as many create multiple embryos in order for the best chances of success in IVF. Not just liberals, however, cited their concerns about the ruling. Former president Donald Trump wrote on his Truth Social account that he “strongly support[s] the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious baby” and that “the Republican Party will always support the creation of strong, thriving, healthy American families.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott stated, “The IVF process is a way of giving life to even more babies” and that he supports giving access to couples to create more families.

However, The Daily Mail reported that 1.7 million embryos created through IVF had been thrown away and that only 7 percent of those created led to pregnancy. The rest, according to the pro-life group “Them Before Us,” “will perish in forgotten freezers, won’t survive ‘thawing,’ fail to implant, be discarded for being non-viable/the wrong sex, be ‘selectively reduced,’ or be donated to research.” The group also spoke out about concerns about eugenic practices in pre-selecting embryos with the best genetic information despite the fact “that embryos with abnormal cells have the ability to self-correct, or push the abnormal cells out and replace them with normal cells.”

Allie Beth Stuckey, who has often spoken out against IVF and surrogacy, stated that as someone who believes life begins at conception, she believed the Alabama Supreme Court made the right decision. “When it comes to IVF, when it comes to surrogacy, when it comes to reproductive technology, I’ve found that many evangelicals…[have] a lot of thoughtlessness when it comes to these subjects.” She stated that many evangelicals believe being pro-life means supporting all methods of creating life and families without considering the ethics of how that life is created. “That tiny human is entitled to human rights,” said Stuckey. She cited that oftentimes, there are too many embryos created, leaving families with the decision of what to do with those they don’t intend to implant. “If we believe as Christian pro-lifers that these humans are made in the image of God and therefore, they have dignity, they have innate worth, and therefore they are entitled to human rights, then we shouldn’t be treating these little human beings like this.” While advocating for compassion for those with fertility struggles, she stated the life of the child, even as an embryo, must be considered. “They have rights like human children,” she concluded.

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad