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Alabama Justice Targets Roe v. Wade in Fetus Wrongful Death Decision

Posted Feb 17, 2012 1:08 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An Alabama justice known for his conservative stands is using a woman’s wrongful death case over a stillborn fetus to question the viability standard in Roe v. Wade.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled today (PDF) in Hamilton v. Scott, which allowed a woman to sue her doctors for the wrongful death of her fetus before viability. Justice Tom Parker set out his views in a special concurring opinion joined by three other justices, Liberty Counsel notes in a press release.

Parker says the viability standard should be “universally abandoned,” at least with regard to wrongful death law. “Roe's viability rule was based on inaccurate history and was mostly unsupported by legal precedent,” Parker writes. “Medical advances since Roe have conclusively demonstrated that an unborn child is a unique human being at every stage of development.”

The Alabama Supreme Court had issued a decision last year recognizing that a wrongful death action is permissible in such cases. In Hamilton, the court said plaintiff Amy Hamilton was entitled to rely on the prior decision though her case was pending at the time.

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