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Justice Jay MitchellThe Federalist Society/YouTube screenshot

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (LifeSiteNews) — The Alabama Supreme Court recognized frozen human embryos as “children” on Friday, in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) case that could have significant long-term ramifications for protecting the preborn. reports that the case concerned a wrongful death lawsuit brought by three couples against the “fertility clinic” Center for Reproductive Medicine and Mobile Infirmary Medical Center for the accidental destruction of their embryos. The parents contended the tragedy was covered under Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.

The suits were first filed in 2021 after Mobile Infirmary, where the embryos were being stored, “allowed one of its patients to leave and/or elope from his or her room in the Infirmary’s hospital area,” they state, “and access the cryogenic storage area,” who then removed the embryos, after which “it is believed that the cryopreservation’s 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.”

Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Jill Parrish Phillips tossed the case in 2022 on the grounds that the act did not apply to embryos outside the womb, but now the state’s highest court has ruled otherwise, reversing Phillips.

The “sweeping and unqualified” Wrongful Death of a Minor Act “applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location,” determined Justice Jay Mitchell. “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.”

Section 36.06 of the Alabama Constitution says that the state “acknowledges, declares, and affirms that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life,” as well as to “ensure the protection of the rights of the unborn child in all manners and measures lawful and appropriate.” Alabama law bans abortion for any reason other than an alleged threat to the mother.

Abortion and IVF supporters expressed outrage at the ruling, which pro-lifers pointed to as a tacit admission that the IVF industry requires the destruction of human life to thrive.

In vitro fertilization is fraught with ethical peril, including because it entails the conscious creation of scores of “excess” embryonic humans only to be killed and human lives being treated like commodities to be bartered over. 

The Catholic Church teaches that IVF is gravely immoral because it separates the sexual act from procreation and violates the right of the child to be born of a conjugal union.

This is not the first time a ruling in an IVF case has drawn unwanted attention to the humanity of its “products.” Last year, a Virginia judge agreed that human embryos “may be valued and sold, and thus may be considered ‘goods or chattels’” under a Civil War-era law that had once applied to human slaves.