SALT LAKE CITY, December 22, 2011 ( – Utah’s high court has ruled that the “plain language” of the legal term “minor child” includes children in the womb.

The ruling was issued in the case of a Utah couple who was suing their doctor after their child was stillborn in 2006, saying that the doctor refused to induce labor in time.


Although the justices were divided on the case, four agreed that unborn children should be classified as minor children.

“In my view, a plain language reading reveals that the term ‘minor child,’ as used in this statute, includes an unborn child,” wrote Chief Justice Christine Durham, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. “The statute does not itself define the term ‘minor child,’ but in general usage the term ‘child’ may refer to a young person, a baby or a fetus. The term ‘minor’ then, may refer to the period from conception to the age of majority, thereby encompassing an unborn child.”

Justice Ronald Nehring disagreed, stating that “the plain meaning of ‘minor child’ does not include a fetus” and that such an interpretation “creates absurd results under our laws.”

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