An Alabama man, Ryan Magers, is suing a reproductive health center as well as the manufacturer of the pill his ex-girlfriend used to end her six-week pregnancy, after a probate court judge granted his petition and recognized the full legal rights of a fetus. Magers’ lawyer claims his lawsuit may be the first U.S. court case that recognizes an aborted fetus’ legal rights.
Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger issued a decree that the fetus is a person, which permits Magers to name the fetus as a co-plaintiff. Magers is legally representing the estate of “Baby Roe,” claiming that the aborted fetus suffered a “wrongful death.” Magers claims that his then-girlfriend received an abortion in early 2017, despite Magers “repeatedly” pleading that she carry her pregnancy to term.
The decision follows a November bill that Alabama passed, a “personhood law” or Amendment 2, which provides constitutional rights to fertilized eggs and fetuses. The amendment effectively makes the mother and fetus equal under state law. The law also declares that under the Alabama constitution, state citizens do not have any legal right to an abortion, meaning that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, all Alabamans would not be able to legally receive an abortion.
The 1973 ruling in which the Supreme Court stated that access to abortion is protected under the right to privacy, Roe v. Wade, legalized abortion across the United States. The right to privacy is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. With the legalization of abortion across all 50 states, abortion-related mortality rates dramatically decreased. Currently, abortions are one of the safest medical procedures in the US, with a 99% safety record.
However, with Kavanaugh on the Court, a challenge to bills that threaten Roe could give the Court an opportunity to overturn Roe once and for all.
Media Resources: The Washington Post 3/6/19; Rolling Stone 3/6/19; Time 3/7/19; Feminist Majority Foundation 1/22/18; Feminist Majority Foundation 7/17/18