Frozen Embryos Finally Have Rights in Alabama

Svitlana Hulko /
Svitlana Hulko /

Mid-February saw Alabama take landmark steps towards protecting all children with a ruling that frozen embryos are to be classified as unborn children. As such, anyone destroying them could be held liable.

The case centers around the Center for Reproductive Medicine, specifically if they can be held liable under the charge of Wrongful Death of a Minor. This came after a patient of the clinic was able to gain access to frozen embryos, then dropped and destroyed the embryos of several couples back in 2020. Destined for in vitro fertilization (IVF), these embryos were ready to go.

As the Mayo Clinic defines it, IVF is where “mature eggs are collected from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab, [and] then a procedure is done to place one or more of the fertilized eggs, called embryos, in a uterus, which is where babies develop.”

While a lower court did not recognize the frozen embryos as unborn children, the Alabama Supreme Court did. Their decision on the Sanctity of Unborn Life Amendment was adopted into the state Constitution in 2018, where a declaration of “the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children” started.

In the opinion, Alabama’s justices wrote, “This Court has long 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 central question presented in these consolidated appeals, which involve the death of embryos kept in a cryogenic nursery, is whether the Act contains an unwritten exception to that rule for extrauterine children — that is, unborn children who are located outside of a biological uterus at the time they are killed.”

Ultimately, they determined that the location of the embryos was immaterial, and Wrongful Death of a Minor applies to all unborn children.

Giving these embryos the rights they deserve, Alabama has started moving the needle for the right to life in the right direction. This is the kind of change these little lives need and can easily bleed over into the debate about abortion. Hopefully, it means we will see an end to the senseless death of unborn children in the US as a whole very soon.