An Alabama Supreme Court decision recognizing the unborn as persons deserving of legal protections could have significant implications in ending abortion in the U.S., say pro-life advocates.
“The Alabama Supreme Court has dealt a massive blow to the
constitutional fraud of Roe v. Wade by recognizing that the preborn
child is a person,” said Personhood USA legal analyst Gualberto Garcia
Jones, J.D., in a statement.
On Jan. 11, the Alabama high court ruled that unborn children are protected by the state’s chemical endangerment law.
The case involved two women who placed their unborn children at risk
through the use of illegal drugs during pregnancy. One of the women
acknowledged that she had smoked meth three days before her son was born
prematurely. The child died 19 minutes later of “acute methamphetamine
Under Alabama law, it is a crime to chemically endanger a child by
exposing him or her to a controlled substance. The women's attorneys
argued that the chemical endangerment law does not apply to unborn
However, the court disagreed, observing that “the only major area in
which unborn children are denied legal protection is abortion, and that
denial is only because of the dictates of Roe.”
The court noted that 40 states and the District of Columbia “permit
recovery of damages for the wrongful death of an unborn child when
post-viability injuries to that child cause its death before birth.”
The ruling cited a South Carolina case in which a court arrived at a
similar ruling, determining that “it would be absurd to recognize the
viable fetus as a person for purposes of homicide laws and wrongful
death statutes but not for purposes of statutes proscribing child
It also agreed with the appeals court that pointed out, “Not only have
the courts of this State interpreted the term 'child' to include a
viable fetus in other contexts, the dictionary definition of the term
'child' explicitly includes an unborn person or a fetus.”
The Supreme Court emphasized that in upholding legal protection for the
unborn, it was being consistent “with the widespread legal recognition
that unborn children are persons with rights that should be protected by
It also noted that its decision is in keeping with the state
constitution’s Declaration of Rights, which proclaims that “all men are
equally free and independent; that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness.”
Alabama attorney general Luther Strange applauded the decision.
“The Court has ratified our argument that the public policy of our
state is to protect life, both born and unborn,” he said in a statement.
“It is a tremendous victory that the Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed
the value of all life, including those of unborn children whose lives
are among the most vulnerable of all.”
While the Jan. 11 ruling does not directly apply to abortion
regulations, pro-life advocates are encouraged by the decision, saying
that it could contribute to the growing recognition of the unborn as
human persons with legal rights.
“In personal injury, criminal, and wills and estate law, the trend has
been to recognize the unborn child as a human with legal protections,
not merely a ‘potential’ human being,” said Mathew Staver, chairman of
Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit litigation and policy organization that
filed a brief in the case.
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion cases are an aberration to law and
stand on an island by themselves, and that island will one day
disappear,” he asserted.