Health Law

Ex-husband is allowed to represent embryo in wrongful death suit against abortion clinic

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Photo by Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

A judge in Arizona has allowed an ex-husband to serve as personal representative of an embryo in a wrongful death lawsuit that he filed against an abortion clinic and its doctors.

Judge Bryan B. Chambers of Gila County, Arizona, allowed Mario Villegas to make the argument that the embryo that he conceived with his then-wife was a person for purposes of the lawsuit, ProPublica reports.

Villegas had accompanied his wife to the abortion clinic in Phoenix where she received abortion pills to end her seven-week pregnancy.

Villegas had filed the suit in 2020. It alleges that the clinic failed to obtain proper informed consent from his then-wife.

The tactic could become more common following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, according to ProPublica.

“As states determine what is legal in the wake of Dobbs and legislators propose new abortion laws,” ProPublica reports, “anti-abortion groups such as the National Right to Life Committee see civil suits as a way to enforce abortion bans.”

Model legislation by the National Right to Life Committee would permit wrongful death suits by women who receive an illegal abortion, men who conceived the fetus and the parents of pregnant minors.

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