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March 01, 2024

Alabama Supreme Court Rules that Frozen Embryos are Children

On February 16, 2023, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos – both within and outside of a uterus – are children, and are, thus, protected under Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, which law allows parents to sue for punitive damages when their child dies. In rendering its decision, the majority opinion relied in part on a 2018 Alabama constitutional amendment that protects “the rights of the unborn child,” including the right to life. The case is the result of two wrongful death lawsuits brought by three couples whose frozen embryos were accidentally destroyed. The lower court granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss, reasoning that “[t]he cryopreserved, in vitro embryos involved in this case do not fit within the definition of a ‘person’” or ‘“child,’” which ruling was appealed to, and reversed by, the supreme court.

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