(The Guardian) — In Alabama, a man is suing for what he believes is his right: to allow any man to force a female partner to give birth against her will. In a bizarre twist, a judge has allowed a no-longer-in-existence embryo to sue as well. It’s a case that highlights the fundamental divide between the pro-choice movement and the anti-abortion (and, often, anti-contraception) one: is the debate just about “life”? Or is it about allowing men and the government to control women – our lives, our futures, and the very skin, organs and bones we live in?

This case brings the stakes into sharp clarity.

The facts of the case are fairly straightforward and fairly common: Ryan Magers got his teenage then girlfriend pregnant. She didn’t want to be pregnant (according to her father, she didn’t even really want to have sex with Magers). She found out about the pregnancy early, and had an abortion at six weeks, over Magers’s objections. Magers was angry, and sued the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives, the facility at which his ex ended her pregnancy. He also petitioned to represent the estate of “Baby Roe”, the six-week-old embryo, and probate judge Frank Barber granted his request. This enables Magers to sue both the clinic and the manufacturer of the pill his ex used to end her pregnancy on behalf of the embryo, and is the first time an embryo or a fetus has been legally recognized as a person.

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