The Iowa Supreme Court hesitantly admitted last week that unborn children should have the same rights as born children in cases involving a parent’s wrongful death, World Magazine reports.
The high court handed down the decision on May 6, ruling that a little girl who was still in the womb when her father died can be awarded damages for wrongful loss of parental companionship, according to the report.
Though the ruling has obvious implications for abortion, the Iowa justices tried to side-step the issue, according to the report.
“[T]he semantic argument whether an unborn child is a ‘person in being’ is beside the point,” according to the ruling. “… Any reader who scours this opinion’s interstices for implied sentiments about any context beyond the narrow parental consortium question presented undertakes a fool’s errand.”
The Iowa case involved the death of heavy metal bassist Paul Gray from Slipknot and his daughter who was still in the womb when he died. Brenna Gray was between 3 and 4 months pregnant when Paul died from an accidental drug overdose, according to the report.
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World Magazine explains the details of the case:
In February 2014, Brenna Gray sued her husband’s physician, Daniel Baldi, United Anesthesia & Pain Control, and other medical providers, claiming they failed to monitor her husband’s drug addiction treatment properly. A jury later cleared Baldi of all criminal charges in connection with Paul Gray’s death. But Brenna Gray claimed a spousal consortium injury and, on behalf of her daughter (referred to in court documents as O.D.G.) a parental consortium injury, which includes the loss of parental “support, companionship, aid, affection, comfort, and guidance.”
… Baldi’s attorneys asserted the law doesn’t apply to a child not yet born.
“The ‘fetus’ is not a ‘minor’ … because the word ‘minor’ includes only living persons, and an unborn child is not yet living,” the defense claimed. Baldi’s lawyers also argued “‘under the age of 8’ does not include ‘negative age.’”
The plaintiff’s attorneys disagreed. Borrowing from a pro-life argument, they also pointed out a ruling against O.D.G. “would permit a child who was just seconds old at the time of [her] parent’s death to sue, yet prevent the same suit from a child who was born a second after [her] parent passed away.”
The Iowa Supreme Court, clearing the way for O.D.G.’s lawsuit to go forward, ruled the law does apply to preborn children.
“[A] child conceived but not yet born at the time of [her] parent’s death can bring a parental consortium claim” after she is born, the court wrote in its decision. “Whatever deprivation of consortium O.D.G. is currently experiencing is no less real just because she did not experience it in utero.”
The case is another example of government contradictions about unborn babies’ rights. Although abortion remains legal because of Roe v. Wade, scientific evidence increasingly makes it harder to deny that babies in the womb are living human beings. As a result, a number of laws and court cases are beginning to recognize that.
In 2013, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that unborn babies should be included in a state law that protects children from chemical endangerment, LifeNews reported. The ruling upheld the convictions of two women whose use of illegal drugs while they were pregnant caused their unborn children to suffer exposure to those drugs.
Unborn victims of violence laws also recognize unborn babies’ rights by allowing prosecutors to charge criminals for two crimes when they kill and injure both a pregnant mother and her unborn child in the course of a violent crime outside the context of abortion. Without this law in place, assailants would only be held accountable for killing or injuring the mother in such an attack or assault and would face no punishment for killing the unborn child — even days before birth.
According to the National Right to Life Committee, 37 states have unborn victims of violence laws that recognize the unlawful killing of an unborn child as homicide in at least some circumstances.