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Life and law at their lowest

Updated: Apr 18

By Ella Polak Apr. 3, 2024



Lyn Kang Art

Rows of microscopes stood unused and freezing-cold chambers lingered untouched. Inside those chambers laid the source of the silence settling into Alabama’s fertility clinics: human embryos. Across the state, clinics providing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) services—in which an egg is artificially fertilized outside the body or transferred to a surrogate mother—shut down completely, leaving thousands of patients stranded.


The closures stem from a recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling, which stated that unborn children, including in-vitro embryos, are legally classified as people. The Feb. 16 decision sent shockwaves through women’s rights groups and showed the destructive effects of allowing unelected individuals to make legal decisions that restrict the rights and freedoms of Americans.


With IVF clinics in legal limbo, patients seeking pregnancy—often from disadvantaged groups—have been devastated. It is completely unjustifiable for a court to use scientifically unsupported claims on the nature of life in a legal ruling, especially when those claims rip away the chance for so many Americans to form families. Alabama’s ruling strikes the chilling message that the government values clumps of cells more than the well-being of American families.




Lyn Kang Art

The plaintiffs were three couples who sued an IVF clinic for the accidental destruction of their embryos in vitro. They argued that Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applied to their situation, a defense that the state’s Supreme Court sustained. Questions have been raised about the court’s motivation for the ruling, with Chief Justice Tom Parker referencing the Bible in his concurring opinion on the case, per The Atlantic. Seeing as the separation of church and state forms a foundational tenet of the U.S. Constitution, lawmakers must institute clear barriers preventing the imposition of religious beliefs on legal verdicts, as this discriminates against religious minorities.


“The courts fail to consider the effects that their rulings have on others,  instead prioritizing their own beliefs and value systems. The Alabama Supreme Court ruling is just one of several examples of this trend,” Freshman Jaylee Sandoval said.

A range of  bipartisan opposition has emerged in response to the ruling.   Democrats across the  country, including President Joe Biden, have decried the ruling and drawn  parallels to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which had constitutionally  protected the right to abortion.


Strikingly, Republicans and pro-life politicians have also come out in support of IVF, including   former President  Donald Trump. Many were initially silent about the ruling but quickly  reversed course once  they realized how unpopular it was among their constituents. Seeing as many Republicans have also pushed for anti-abortion legislation, the personhood of embryos seems to be something they define based on political convenience.


“The government should not be able to put labels on ambiguous concepts like an embryo’s personhood. Ultimately, medical decisions should be left to the affected person or their guardian,” Senior Carlo Del Rosario said.

After weeks of uncertainty, the Alabama legislature passed a new bill protecting IVF providers from being prosecuted for damaging embryos, resuming some IVF treatments. Notably, the bill did not reject the court's definition of fetal personhood—maintaining the legal standard that embryos are considered human beings. Moreover, Republican Senators have blocked nationwide IVF safeguards, which could lead to other states ending up in Alabama’s situation and threatening even more people’s reproductive rights.


The Alabama case along with the overturning of Roe v. Wade signifies an increasing pattern of courts shaping American policy, but in a democracy, only elected representatives should have that power. Allowing courts to make policy decisions for Americans without their support, particularly using religious justifications, risks morphing America into a political oligarchy. Without more direct oversight of the courts, the U.S. risks continuing down a path where a small group of unelected individuals have the power to make or break America’s future.


 

About the Contributors


Ella Polak

staff writer


Ella Polak is a junior at Leland High School and is the Feature World and Lifestyle Page Editor for The Charger Account. She enjoys watching TV, listening to music, and hanging out with friends.





Lyn Kang

artist


Lyn Kang is a junior at Leland High School and is the artist . During her free time, she enjoys watching movies, sleeping and listening to music such as pop

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