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The microinjection of sperm into an egg cell using a microscope (CNS/EPA)

An Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos qualify as children under state law has raised complex legal questions about artificial reproductive practices in the United States opposed by the Church. Source: NCR Online.

The February 16 ruling responded to appeals brought by couples whose embryos were destroyed in 2020, when a hospital patient removed frozen embryos from storage equipment.

The 8-1 opinion said the state’s highest court has previously held “that unborn children are ‘children’ for purposes of Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act … a statute that allows parents of a deceased child to recover punitive damages for their child’s death”. The judges found that parents’ ability to sue over the wrongful death of a minor child applies to unborn children, without an exception for “extrauterine children”.

“Under existing black-letter law, the answer to that question is no: the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location,” it said.

The 1987 document from the Congregation (now Dicastery) for the Doctrine of the Faith known as Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life) states the Church opposes in vitro fertilisation and related practices, including gestational surrogacy, in part because “the connection between in vitro fertilisation and the voluntary destruction of human embryos occurs too often”.

Opponents of the ruling said it would imperil access to infertility treatment. The University of Alabama at Birmingham health system paused IVF treatments after the ruling.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday the ruling would cause “exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make”.


Alabama Supreme Court rules frozen embryos are children under wrongful death law (By Kate Scanlon, OSV News via NCR Online)