HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Madison County Circuit Judge Chris Comer has dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a Huntsville man who claimed to be the father of an aborted fetus.
Ryan Magers sued the Huntsville-based Alabama Women's Center for Productive Alternatives, citing a 2017 abortion at the clinic.
His attorney Brent Helms was successful in creating an estate for the fetus, named Baby Roe for the case, through Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger. Helms argues that decision granted Baby Roe personhood and creates a new argument aimed at overturning the Roe vs. Wade decision.
Attorneys for the clinic argued that abortion is legal in Alabama, so no misconduct took place. They also contend the U.S. Supreme Court has found a doctor performing an abortion owes no duty of care to the father. The defendants also told the court the Alabama murder statute that makes it a crime to kill a child in-utero, regardless of viability, makes an exception for an abortion.
Comer held a hearing in July on the clinic's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The plaintiff's also asked the court to dismiss the claims on behalf of Magers in order to refile the lawsuit on behalf of Baby Roe.
But in his ruling Friday, Judge Comer sided with the Alabama Women's Center for Reproductive Alternative and dismissed all of Magers' claims.
In the short order, Comer said the plaintiff`s claims are precluded -- meaning they don't apply -- because of the existing abortion law in Alabama and the United States.
The judge also addressed the case`s other unusual wrinkle -- Baby Roe's "estate" as recognized by the Madison County Probate Court.
The plaintiffs argued that recognition meant Baby Roe has personhood and legal rights.
But the judge found otherwise, writing: "Although the plaintiff attaches great significance to the probate court`s issuance of letters of administration, the court finds said process to be ministerial in nature."
Magers` attorney Helms told WHNT News 19 Monday they plan to appeal the ruling.
"The next step is to appeal the judge’s decision," Helms said. "As this is the first case of its kind, we expected to have to appeal to a higher court. At this point, we are exactly where we thought we’d be."