HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Ryan Magers of Madison County filed two wrongful death lawsuits, one for himself and one on behalf of the estate of his unborn child, 'Baby Roe.' His lawyer said he wants to make it really difficult for a woman in Alabama to get access to abortion.
Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger signed over rights of the aborted child to Magers February 5. He knew he was granting the rights of an aborted fetus because in the first paragraph of the 'memorandum in support of letters of administration' turned into his office, it says, 'During the first trimester of pregnancy, Baby Roe's mother aborted Baby Roe.' And, Barger signed the document.
"The probate court calls and says we need a death certificate, and I said, 'I don't have a death certificate,'" Brent Helms, attorney for Magers and Baby Roe, said. "The best I can do is provide an affidavit. They want to know why and I said, 'Baby Roe was aborted.' I'm transferred to the chief clerk. I talked to the chief clerk who's second in command to the judge, and I say, 'Okay, we can file a memorandum in support of our petition for letters of administration.' What that memorandum is it outlines law in the state of Alabama that recognizes a fetus as a person. So, it defines personhood as 'from conception.'"
Magers is suing the Alabama Women's Center in Huntsville, along with the abortion pill manufacturer, and the staff at the clinic for providing an abortion to his then-girlfriend in 2017. Magers' attorney said he pleaded with her not to abort the child.
"It was after the abortion that he regrouped and said, 'Hey, I think someone should stand up for fathers,'" Helms said.
Marshall County Resident Jenna King-Shepherd had an abortion shortly after she graduated high school. She is now the mother of a 2-year-old. She also serves as a support system for other mothers faced with making this decision. That includes volunteering at the Alabama Women's Center.
"I think what people need to understand is this fetal personhood argument is much more far-reaching than just abortion," King-Shepherd said. "It's about other health decisions that women have the right to make."
The mother involved in the cases of Magers and Baby Roe has not been identified, and Helms said he and his client will not name her unless they must. King-Shepherd said her identity is crucial.
"Despite her situation, she does have the right to make the choice she made," King-Shepherd said.
Helms said his client wants rights for fathers and unborn babies. And, he wants to deter business pill makers and other people who he says profit off abortions.
"From strictly a business decision, liability outweighs profitability," Helms said. "You're not going to engage in that business. That's why there exists a potential in the state of Alabama for the elimination of abortion."
The people named in the lawsuits have until April 1 to respond. There is no hearing set yet. Helms and his client want a jury trial.