Fetal positions


Issue: "As the West burns," Sept. 6, 2003

THE MISSISSIPPI SUPREME COURT RULED LAST month that a fetus is a "person" under state law, and wrongful death claims can be filed on his behalf.

The case involved a woman who alleged a mistake by a doctor caused the miscarriage of her 13-week-old fetus. Presiding Justice Jim Smith said the decision had nothing to do with abortion. Rather, he said, it had to do with the woman's interest in protecting the life of her unborn child.

Meanwhile, another fetal-rights case in Florida involves a developmentally disabled woman who was raped. A Florida appeals court must decide two issues: whether the fetus of a guardian-represented incapacitated woman should be represented by a separate guardian, and if so, whether that fetal guardian could influence medical decisions made for the mother, including the decision to have an abortion.

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The ACLU opposed appointing a fetal guardian because it would establish that fetuses are "persons."

Edward E. Plowman
Edward E. Plowman


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