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Frozen Embryos Are People? In the World of Politics, at Least

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

An Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are “children” offers a sad example of the age-old law of unintended consequences.

Instead of simply protecting the developing life of the embryos to help childless couples become parents, the court’s move throws the procedure’s future — and the national abortion debate — into a state of confusion.

Immediately after the ruling was handed down on Thursday, health care providers in the state suspended in vitro fertilization services out of fear that embryos could be destroyed, even if only by accident.

In a decision that rattled the reproductive rights debate, a majority of the justices ruled that state law clearly declared that “unborn children are ‘children.’ ”

Particularly dramatic were the words of the court’s very conservative chief justice, Tom Parker, for whom the Constitution and legal precedent were not enough to explain his reasoning.

Nor was there any presumption of a separation between church and state in his opinion, which invoked Bible passages and the writings of 16th- and 17th-century theologians.

 

“Human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God,” he wrote.

“Even before birth,” he added, “all human beings have the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory.”

That’s lofty and sweeping rhetoric for a case that centers on wrongful-death claims for frozen embryos that reportedly were destroyed in a mishap at a fertility clinic.

But Parker’s sermonizing showed why he has received reverential respect in conservative legal and anti-abortion circles, accompanied by criticism from his left that he often sounds more like he is guided by religious doctrine than the law.

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(c) 2024 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

 

 

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