Alabama court rules IVF embryos are children

29/02/2024 / Featured 

In a landmark ruling, an Alabama court has ruled in an 8-1 decision that embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) are human beings. These embryos were brought to the court’s attention after an unauthorized person gained access to an IVF facility and removed frozen embryos, resulting in their destruction. The parents of these embryos wanted justice for the pre-born children they lost through this odd and careless event.

This case has made headlines in Canada, as various organizations and news outlets recognize the potential implications not just for IVF, but also for abortion.

The United States is leaps and bounds ahead of Canada on recognizing the humanity of pre-born children. Only a state that already recognizes the wrong of abortion could also recognize the value of these embryos. But it is worth considering in our context as well as we continue to work toward the recognition of pre-born children as human beings regardless of their developmental stage or location.

ARPA Canada, the parent organization of We Need a Law, in their policy report on this issue, list three key ways in which IVF is used unethically:

  • By intentionally creating more embryos than necessary, which leads to aborting, freezing, discarding, or experimenting on “extra” embryos;
  • Through technology that allows parents and doctors to identify and reject embryos with various genetic conditions, perpetuating ableism; and
  • By accepting anonymous sperm and egg donations so that the children created by IVF are denied access to knowledge of their biological origins.

As a business, reproductive technology is a lucrative one. Clinics want to improve their success rates, which also means creating extra embryos as “safeties” for when an initial implantation is unsuccessful. Babies become a commodity, and buyers want a guaranteed product.

IVF is an area that Christian news analyst Al Mohler thinks has been missing in the discourse around pre-born human rights. On his podcast The Briefing, Mohler comments on how the pro-life movement hasn’t always been consistent when it comes to defending embryos conceived with the help of IVF technology. But he compliments the precise language used by the Alabama Supreme Court. In this ruling, the majority opinion specifies that children are children, from conception to natural death, regardless of “physical location” and “without exception based on developmental stage.”

Physical location is a new and important addition to legal precedent. As Mohler says, “Physical location is key here, because at no previous moment in human history did anyone need to say that. Guess what? We need to say it now.”

Human rights begin at conception, whether that occurs in the womb or, in the case of IVF, outside the womb. While there are many who believe that human rights only begin after the baby is outside the womb, the parents of these destroyed embryos were right to want justice for their pre-born children. As Albert Mohler concludes in his analysis, “Whether in the womb or in a freezer, a human embryo is a human being. Period.”

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