Mississippi Supreme Court Rules Unborn Child is a Person

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 21, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Mississippi Supreme Court Rules Unborn Child is a Person

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 21, 2003

Jackson, MS (LifeNews.com) — The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that an unborn child is a person and wrongful death lawsuits may be filed on her behalf.

Tracy Tucker pursued a wrongful death lawsuit when a mistake by doctors caused her to have a miscarriage in 1997. The unborn child was 19 weeks old at the time.

At the time, the law only allowed such suits when the unborn child was post-viability. The 6-2 ruling expands the definition of a "person" in wrongful death cases to include all unborn children.

Justice Jim Smith, writing for the court, said the decision has no impact on the status of legal abortions in the state.

"Tucker’s interest is to protect and preserve the life of her unborn child, not in the exercise of her right to terminate that life which has been declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Smith wrote.

Justice Chuck McRae, who dissented, described the decision as an assault on Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion.

Nik Nikas, the general counsel for Americans United for Life, told LifeNews.com "This is simply a recognition that Roe V. Wade does not apply, and was never intended to apply, to any situation outside of an abortion."

"Thus, even under current Supreme Court jurisprudence, except for an abortion, there is no federal constitutional obstacle to any state recognizing that a wrongful death suit may be brought for the tortious or criminal assault on a child in the
womb," Nikas explained.

Pat Cartrette, executive director of Right to Life of Jackson, said that the decision shows the humanity of the unborn child and is positive because it expands a baby’s rights under the law before birth.

Pro-abortion groups were disappointed by the news.

Sondra Goldschein of the ACLU condemned the decision saying "anytime the fetus is recognizable as a person it chips away at the foundation of Roe."