The issue of reproductive rights has always been a hot-button topic in American politics. During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to nominate a Supreme Court judge that would be pro-life. But now a case involving an Alabama woman is raising new questions about the rights of the unborn. The Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled Kimberly Stinnett can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her 6-week-old embryo that she claims was terminated due to negligent medical care. The decision of the court could have a major influence on the expansion of fetal rights and establishing fetal personhood rights.
Alabama is considered politically one of the most conservative states in the nation. It is further exemplified in the state’s public policy motto: “Protecting life born and unborn.” The case is being followed closely by people from both sides of the pro-life and pro-choice argument. Critics contend the state supreme court’s decision allowing permit Stinnett to pursue legal action against her physician will mark a major step towards establishing fetal personhood rights. They also contend the court’s decision could result in the infringement of privacy rights for pregnant women.
Wrongful death is defined as a civil case where the plaintiff seeks damages against a party that is responsible for the death of a family member, friend or loved one due to negligence. Stinnett accuses her doctor of providing negligent care that caused her to miscarry. She filed her suit under Alabama’s Wrongful Death Act, which allows parents to pursue legal action if the death of their child is caused by “the wrongful act, omission or negligence of any person.” The Stinnett case is historic. For nearly 50 years, the state had barred the recovery of monetary damages in cases involving prenatal catastrophic injuries.
Despite Alabama’s conservative political environment, history is not on Stinnett’s side. During the 1926 case Stanford vs. St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled, “a child before birth is, in fact, part of the mother and is only severed from her by birth.” In 1972, the court overruled Stanford in Huskey vs. Smith and determined Alabama law recognizes wrongful death claims in cases involving “prenatal injury to a fetal child which was born alive, but later dies.”
The death of a family member can be extremely devastating for everyone involved–especially when it was caused by the negligence of others. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is not going to bring back your loved one. However, if your loved-one is the primary source of the family’s income, it is important to recover damages. The attorneys at Neufeld, Kleinberg & Pinkiert, P.A. understand their clients are going through a very difficult time. The team of Miami wrongful death lawyers work diligently to protect the rights of clients and to always look after their best interests. To learn more, contact their law offices today and schedule a consultation to discuss your case.