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Alabama Supreme Court rules in favor of protections for preborn children

The Alabama Supreme Court unanimously ruled last Friday in favor of preborn lives in Stinnett v. Kennedy; a lawsuit which involved Alabama resident Kimberly Stinnett. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the case could be remanded for further proceedings.

In November 2012, Ms. Stinnett sued Karla Kennedy, M.D., and Kennedy’s employer Women’s Care Specialist claiming damages for the wrongful death of her preborn child, who had not yet reached viability. According to the case summary found on Alabama Appellate Watch:

Stinnett alleged that Dr. Kennedy committed medical negligence when she performed the D & C and administered methotrexate. Stinnett contended that the D & C should not have been performed and the methotrexate not administered, given that her pregnancy was not ectopic and that those procedures violated the applicable standard of care and proximately caused “the loss,” or termination, of her pregnancy, as well as causing her severe physical pain, mental anguish, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In March 2016, Dr. Kennedy and Women’s Care Specialist filed a motion to dismiss Ms. Stinnett’s wrongful death claim. In April 2016, the trial court entered a motion to dismiss Stinnett’s wrongful death claim. According to court records, the motion “focused in large part on Stinnett’s alleged failure to establish that the loss of her pregnancy was caused by Dr. Kennedy.” Ms. Stinnett opposed the motion on the grounds that experts had said Dr. Kennedy’s treatment adversely affected the pregnancy.

In May, the case went before a jury. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Dr. Kennedy and her employer against Ms. Stinnett. Stinnett appealed the verdict. The Alabama Supreme Court found the lower court erred in their previous decision in favor of Dr. Kennedy.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Parker wrote, “Unborn children, whether they have reached the ability to survive outside their mother’s womb or not, are human beings and thus persons entitled to the protections of the law—both civil and criminal. Members of the judicial branch of Alabama should do all within their power to dutifully ensure that the laws of Alabama are applied equally to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, both born and unborn.”

An update from Liberty Counsel praised the decision:

“Liberty Counsel applauds the Alabama Supreme Court and Justice Tom Parker for defending the legal rights of the unborn as clearly stated in Alabama law. We strongly urge other judges to do likewise as the value of human life is not a negotiable matter. The womb should be the safest place for a child and it must be legally protected. It’s time to turn the tables on Roe v. Wade,” said [Mat] Staver.

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