A ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court has concluded that a reference in state law that prevents exposing children to dangerous chemicals also protects an unborn child.
While the decision itself is unrelated to abortion, in a court where at least one justice has advocated overturning Roe v. Wade the decision today in Ankrom v. State undoubtedly will be referenced again.
The case upheld the convictions of two women, Hope Ankrom of Coffee County and Amanda Kimbrough of Colbert County, who were prosecuted for using drugs during their pregnancies.
The state law originally was intended to prevent parents from operating meth labs around children, or allowing children to be in meth labs, and does not mention the unborn.
But the decision said “The plain meaning of the word ‘child’ in the chemical endangerment statute includes unborn children.”
Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a pro-life law firm that filed an amicus brief in the case, said, “In personal injury, criminal, and wills and estate law, the trend has been to recognize the unborn child as a human with legal protections, not merely a ‘potential’ human being.
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion cases are an aberration to law and stand on an island by themselves, and that island will one day disappear,” he said.
After all, it was the original Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the United States that noted should the personhood of the unborn be established, abortion advocacy would disintegrate, since the unborn then would be qualified for all the protections offered by the U.S. Constitution.
Liberty Counsel said its brief “provided the Alabama Supreme Court with a thorough historical review of legal protection for unborn children, dating from ancient Greece to the present day.”
The group said, “Common law in England and the United States, with support from the medical and legal professions, recognized that ‘[l]ife is the immediate gift of God, a right inherent in every individual; and it begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.’ This understanding remained the prevailing view in the United States through the middle of the 20th century, when a societal shift prompted a ‘liberalization’ of criminal laws, including restrictions against abortion, culminating in the abortion cases, Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, (1973) and Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973), in which the Supreme Court held that unborn children are not ‘persons’ protected by the right to life set forth in the Constitution.”
In a report on WTVY in Alabama, state Attorney General Luther Strange praised the resolution.
“The court has ratified our argument that the public policy of our state is to protect life, both born and unborn,” he said. “It is a tremendous victory that the Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed the value of all life, including those of unborn children whose lives are among the most vulnerable of all.”
According to records, Ankrom and her newborn son both tested positive for cocaine when the child was born in 2000. She was on probation for a year. Kimbrough’s son was born in 2008 and died 19 minutes later. His cause of death was “acute methamphetamine intoxication” and she was sentenced to 10 years.
Previously, the same court suggested that states simply “reject” the concept of pre-viability abortion-at-will that comes from Roe v. Wade until the U.S. Supreme Court overrules the precedent.
In a powerful statement that appears to affirm the concept of the “personhood” movement, through which pro-life advocates seek to have states recognize the unborn as “persons,” a concurrence in a case result from Justice Tom Parker said, “Since Roe was decided in 1973, advances in medical and scientific technology have greatly expanded our knowledge of prenatal life.
“The development of ultrasound technology has enhanced medical and public understanding, allowing us to watch the growth and development of the unborn child in a way previous generations could never have imagined,” he wrote.
“Similarly, advances in genetics and related fields make clear that a new and unique human being is formed at the moment of conception, when two cells, incapable of independent life, merge to form a single, individual human entity.”
He continued, “Of course, that new life is not yet mature – growth and development are necessary before that life can survive independently – but it is nonetheless human life. And here has been a broad legal consensus in America, even before Roe, that the life of a human being begins at conception.”
His concurrence continued, “An unborn child is a unique and individual human being from conception, and, therefore, he or she is entitled to the full protection of law at every stage of development.
“Roe’s viability rule was based on inaccurate history and was mostly unsupported by legal precedent. Medical advances since Roe have conclusively demonstrated that an unborn child is a unique human being at every stage of development. And together, Alabama’s homicide statute, the decisions of this court, and the statutes and judicial decisions from other states make abundantly clear that the law is no longer, in Justice Blackmun’s words, ‘reluctant … to accord legal rights to the unborn..’
“For these reasons, Roe’s viability rule is neither controlling nor persuasive here and should be rejected by other states until the day it is overruled by the United States Supreme Court,” he said.
It came in addition to a unanimous majority opinion, which Parker also wrote, that said a woman, Amy Hamilton, was entitled to pursue a claim over wrongful death of her unborn child.
Parker explained he wrote the special concurrence to the unanimous ruling because the Roe decision doesn’t apply in such cases.
“Because Roe is not controlling authority beyond abortion law, and because its viability standard is not persuasive, I conclude that, at least with regard to the law for wrongful death, Roe’s viability standard should be universally abandoned.”
The “personhood” campaign that has been developing around the nation calls for states to adopt constitutional amendments describing the unborn from the moment of conception as “persons.”
Also of note is the fact that Judge Roy Moore last November was elected to the position of chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and soon will be sworn in to those responsibilities.
He told WND that he will be responsible for acknowledging that God is the sources of human rights.
“I get criticized for my professions that God is the basis of all rights or liberties,” he told WND, “and yet, the rule of law, being the Constitution, and its companion, the Declaration of Independence, organize the laws of our country on [the premise that] our rights come from God.”
Government’s job, he said, is to secure and protect those rights.
Further, the full Constitution needs to play an active role today, he said.