When Ryan Magers’ ex-girlfriend got an abortion against his wishes in February 2017, he was upset — so upset, in fact, that nearly two years later, he decided to sue the clinic where she’d had the procedure, the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives. Magers then petitioned a Madison County, AL probate court — which typically deals with the property and debts of deceased adults — to allow him to represent the estate of his ex-girlfriend’s aborted fetus in his case against the clinic.
Shockingly, the probate court judge granted Magers’ petition, reportedly making Magers’ aborted fetus the first fetus to be granted full legal rights in the United States.
“We have already had a victory, and it was the first one of its kind, ever,” Magers’ attorney, Brent Helms, crowed to local TV news station WAAY31.
Needless to say, the decision has been hailed as a victory for the anti-abortion camp, infuriating reproductive rights activists across the country.
This is the USA in the year 2019: a man AND a fetus are suing an abortion clinic.
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
The decision appears to be one of the first major decisions following Alabama’s “personhood law,” or Amendment 2, which passed during last year’s midterm election. The amendment provides constitutional rights to fertilized eggs and fetuses, effectively making both a mother and a fetus equal in the eyes of state law. It also declares that Alabamans do not have any legal right to an abortion under the Alabama constitution.
The amendment was introduced by Rep. Matt Fridy (R-AL) in order to ensure that abortion care would be banned in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned: “We don’t know from generation to generation what the composition of the Alabama Supreme Court is going to be,” Fridy told AL.com last year. “Things change quickly, and you can look at a lot of issues, even recently, to see significant change, judicial change, that’s come about much faster than anybody had ever anticipated.” Nearly 59 percent of Alabamans supported the amendment in the midterm election.
Despite Helms’ claim that this marks the first time a fetus has ever won legal rights in the United States, a 2014 Alabama law dictated that minors seeking abortions would have to obtain permission from a court and undergo a trial, which would involve a fetus having legal representation “for the interests of the unborn child.” The law was struck down by a federal judge in 2017 on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.