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Alabama Supreme Court Rules Life Begins at Conception and Has Inherent Value Based on the Image of God

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Abortion, News, Politics, Religion, Social-Issues, The Church, Theology, US | 0 comments

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In a landmark ruling, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled on Friday that life begins at conception. Referencing God, the ruling states that life begins at conception and is inherently valuable, underscoring a profound respect for the sanctity of unborn life. The Court’s decision reaffirms the Alabama Constitution’s Sanctity of Unborn Life Amendment, which reflects the public policy of recognizing and supporting the rights of unborn children, including their inherent right to life.

Chief Justice Parker, concurring specially, stressed the necessity of upholding the sanctity of life as articulated in the state’s Constitution. He remarked, “This state acknowledges, declares, and affirms that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life.” This declaration, he stated, is as much about unborn life as it is about life at any other stage, asserting the importance of recognizing the image of God in every human being from conception.

Justice Mitchell’s opinion from the Alabama Supreme Court brings to light the historically inconsistent protection afforded to unborn life. The Court’s long-held view that unborn children are “children” within the meaning of Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, has been clear and has allowed for punitive action against the death of an unborn child. Yet, it raises an inherent contradiction in the legal system—if unborn children are deemed worthy of protection from wrongful death, why then has this protection been inconsistently applied?

Indeed, it has been a point of contention that while the law has allowed parents to recover for the wrongful death of a child, including unborn children, this right has not been uniformly recognized across all circumstances. For example, in the past, there had been no express provision within the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act for embryos outside the womb, leading to a legal gray area concerning extrauterine embryos. This inconsistency in legal protection is hypocritical, where the value of life is conditional upon its location or the circumstances surrounding its termination.

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This ruling comes after a careful examination of what the term “sanctity of unborn life” entails, deeply rooted in theological and philosophical discourse. The Court noted, “Section 36.06 recognizes that this is true of unborn human life no less than it is of all other human life — that even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory.” This acknowledgment is juxtaposed with the fact that until now, the legal system has not provided consistent safeguards for all unborn life and has created a dichotomy between the espoused sanctity of life and the actual legal protections afforded to it.

Further, the Court’s decision is based on a comprehensive view that extends beyond the legal framework into the realm of divine ordination. It cites historical and legal precedents that have consistently recognized the value of life from its earliest stages. For example, Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, which have informed much of Western legal tradition, describe life as “the immediate gift of God, a right inherent by nature in every individual,” highlighting that life “begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.”

The Court’s ruling has significant implications for the state’s legal treatment of unborn life, extending protections under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act to in vitro embryos, and has implications that extend to abortion as well, including early-stage chemical abortion and certain forms of birth control. It signifies a commitment to the rights of the unborn, which are now expected to be treated with the same reverence as those of born individuals, based on the constitutional directive that each human life, from conception, is sacred and made in the image of God.

This decision stands as a testament to Alabama’s strong stance on life issues, mirroring a broader cultural and legal acknowledgment of the intrinsic value of life at all stages in conservative circles. The Supreme Court of Alabama has thus set a precedent that may reverberate through the legal landscapes of other states.

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