Montgomery, AL – Today the Alabama Supreme Court held that the word “child” in Alabama’s chemical endangerment statute applies to the born and unborn in Ankrom v. State. Liberty Counsel’s amicus brief argued that the protection of the unborn is in keeping with the protections afforded the born in various areas of the law.
Ankrom v. State of Alabama involved the consolidation of two cases, which address the question of whether Alabama’s law against chemical endangerment of children can be applied to unborn children who are exposed to illegal drugs in utero. Courts of appeal in Alabama upheld convictions of mothers who were charged under the chemical endangerment law, when their children tested positive for illegal drugs at birth.
Liberty Counsel’s brief provided the Alabama Supreme Court with a thorough historical review of legal protection for unborn children, dating from ancient Greece to the present day. Common law in England and the United States, with support from the medical and legal professions, recognized that “[l]ife is the immediate gift of God, a right inherent in every individual; and it begins in contemplation of law as soon as an infant is able to stir in the mother’s womb.” This understanding remained the prevailing view in the United States through the middle of the 20th Century, when a societal shift prompted a “liberalization” of criminal laws, including restrictions against abortion, culminating in the abortion cases, Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, (1973) and Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973), in which the Supreme Court held that unborn children are not “persons” protected by the right to life set forth in the Constitution.
Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, said, “Liberty Counsel applauds the Alabama Supreme Court decision. In personal injury, criminal, and wills and estate law, the trend has been to recognize the unborn child as a human with legal protections, not merely a ‘potential’ human being. The U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion cases are an aberration to law and stand on an island by themselves, and that island will one day disappear.”
Used with the permission of Liberty Counsel