An Alabama county court recognized an aborted fetus as a plaintiff in a lawsuit Tuesday, opening a new chapter in the fight for reproductive rights in the United States.
Madison County probate court Judge Frank Barger allowed Ryan Magers to name the fetus his girlfriend had aborted as a co-plaintiff in his case against Alabama Women's Center.
The judge's decision to establish an estate for the fetus, allowing the suit to move forward, came four months after the passage of Amendment 2 by voters in a state referendum last November. The law, which passed by 18 percentage points, gives fetuses the same legal rights held by a person under the state constitution.
Women's rights advocates on social media slammed the decision, noting that it was perhaps the first time in U.S. history a fetus was named as a co-plaintiff in a case.
An Alabama probate judge just opened an estate for an aborted fetus. It's the rest time this has happened in the country and opens the door for partners to sue to block abortions, among other things #TeamLegalhttps://t.co/YX8rTPF40h
— Jessica Mason Pieklo (@Hegemommy) March 5, 2019
An Alabama man is mad that his girlfriend got an abortion against his wishes, so he’s suing the clinic. How did the county respond? By declaring the aborted embryo (she was just 6 wks pregnant) a person with legal rights https://t.co/pOcFdNAQpy
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) March 5, 2019
As NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue wrote on social media, the "very scary case" asserts that a "woman's rights [are] third in line," after those of a man who impregnates her and the fetus she aborts.
Breaking: Alabama allows a suit from man AND fetus against abortion clinic where his girlfriend terminated her pregnancy. First under Alabama's new personhood law, asserting woman's rights third in line. Very scary case. https://t.co/xXCSyJN3AQ
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) March 5, 2019
Author Mona Eltahawy added that the case effectively renders the woman—and all women in Alabama—"walking incubators" with fewer rights than a fetus.
This is the USA in the year 2019: a man AND a fetus are suing an abortion clinic.
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When the fetus becomes a person as per Alabama “personhood law,” a woman is rendered a walking incubator with less rights than a fetus and the man. https://t.co/sIOPfkXJ6h
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) March 5, 2019
According to WAAY 31, a local ABC affiliate, Magers' girlfriend obtained an abortion two years ago when she was just six weeks pregnant.
"Pregnant people are full citizens with bodily autonomy and a right to choose the outcome of their pregnancy," wrote Dr. Katie McHugh, a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Rights. "Attempting to grant a six week gestational sac equal rights is both unlawful and idiotic."
This just in: Pregnant people are full citizens with bodily autonomy and a right to choose. The outcome of their pregnancy. Attempting to grant a 6 week gestational sac equal rights is both unlawful and idiotic. #AbortionIsHealthcare https://t.co/krQEYzSSez
— Katie McHugh, MD (@KtMcH) March 5, 2019
The Alabama Women's Center has until April 1 to respond to the suit. Magers' attorney told WAAY 31 he believes the case could eventually proceed to the state Supreme Court.