An Alabama man is suing a women’s reproductive health center on behalf of an unborn fetus, in what his lawyer claims may be the first U.S. court case to give an aborted fetus legal rights.
Ryan Magers, who says his ex-girlfriend had an abortion against his wishes, filed a lawsuit against the Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Madison Country, local CBS affiliate WHNT News 19 reported Tuesday.
Magers claims in court papers that his ex-girlfriend took a pill to end her pregnancy on Feb. 12, 2017 despite his pleas to keep the baby.
This week, an Alabama probate judge granted Magers’ petition to represent the estate of the fetus, which the suit calls “Baby Roe.” But according to WHNT, the court papers do not make it clear that “Baby Roe” was an aborted fetus.
Magers is reportedly seeking a jury trial.
Brent Helms, the attorney for Magers and “Baby Roe,” says the case breaks legal ground.
“This is the first estate that I’m aware of that has ever been opened for an aborted baby,” Helms told ABC affiliate WAAY 31.
The case comes after Alabama passed an amendment last November that effectively gives unborn fetuses the same rights as someone who has been born. The amendment was hailed as a victory by proponents of the growing “personhood” movement, which calls for Constitutional rights to be granted from the moment a sperm fertilizes an egg. The same legislation also says that the Alabama constitution does not protect a woman’s right to an abortion—language added in the event of Roe v. Wade getting overturned.
The Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision granted women in the U.S. the legal right to abortions. The addition of conservative justice Brett Kavanaugh on the bench has raised concerns among pro-choice activists that women’s right to abortion in the U.S. may come under threat.
The Alabama lawsuit has sparked criticism from pro-choice campaigners. On Tuesday, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America Ilyse Hogue called it a “very scary case.”