In Alabama, a judge has allowed a man to sue an abortion clinic on behalf of his unborn foetus. This judge’s decision, a first, is based on the law of “individual identity”, which recognizes legal rights for unborn children. In his decree, Judge Frank Barger explicitly states that the aborted baby is a person in its own right and allows the father, Ryan Magers, to name the foetus as a co-plaintiff in the suit for “wrongful death” The mother had an abortion in 2017 at six weeks pregnant, despite her boyfriend’s “repeated pleas” to carry the pregnancy to term.
The law suit attacks not only the abortion clinic, the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, but also the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the pill given to the mother, “a pill designed to kill unborn children”.
Pro-choice advocates are concerned about this decision, which could undermine the legality of abortions. They fear cases like this will “chipping away at the framework that allows abortion by trying to protect fetal life and drawing a moral equivalency between a fetus and newborn”, seeing them as “dangerous precedents” that “are gaining currency”. “If foetuses are recognized as having rights equal to the women carrying them, it would open up a legal and ethical minefield,” disrupting access to abortion and contraception.
For Dalton Johnson, owner and director of the clinic targeted by the lawsuit, this is an “unprecedented” case.