Remember that Idaho bill on ‘preborn children’? Look what’s happening in Alabama | Opinion

Remember that ridiculous bill about “preborn children” proposed by Idaho Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, at the beginning of the legislative session?

She wanted to remove all references to “embryo” or “fetus” in state law and replace them with “preborn child” to reflect “Idaho values.”

You might think it’s just a semantic gimmick, and we dismissed it as propaganda meant to bolster anti-abortion rhetoric.

Turns out it can have some real-world consequences.

Just look at what’s happening in Alabama.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos can be considered children under state law.

The decision was issued in a pair of wrongful death cases brought by three couples who had frozen embryos destroyed in an accident at a fertility clinic, according to The Associated Press. Justices, citing anti-abortion language in the Alabama Constitution, ruled that an 1872 state law allowing parents to sue over the death of a minor child “applies to all unborn children, regardless of their location.”

“Unborn children are ‘children’ ... without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics,” Justice Jay Mitchell wrote in the majority ruling by the all-Republican court, according to the AP.

Now, we’re finding out that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker based his legal opinions not on law but on his religion, according to The New York Times.

“Human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God,” he wrote in a concurring opinion that invoked the Book of Genesis and the prophet Jeremiah, and quoted at length from the writings of 16th- and 17th-century theologians, according to The Times.

It led New York Times columnist Charles Blow to rightly conclude that the Alabama ruling shows our slow but certain slide toward theocracy.

“The idea is absurd and unscientific,” Blow wrote of the Alabama Supreme Court opinion. “It is instead tied to a religious crusade to downgrade the personhood of women by conferring personhood on frozen embryos.”

Thank goodness for Dr. Cristin Slater, the medical director of the Idaho Center for Reproductive Medicine and self-described “pro-life” OB-GYN and in vitro fertilization specialist whose testimony in January effectively put the brakes on Young’s bill in Idaho.

“The current bill tries to lump everything from fertilization to baby,” Slater said. “And I get it. I respect life. Life is beautiful. I want life. But that’s not accurate terminology, especially in the OB-GYN world and fertility specialist world.”

Slater, who is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, and in the sub-specialty of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, explained — complete with diagrams — that embryonic cells do not constitute a “preborn child.”

“I don’t look at this two-cell embryo as a baby,” Slater said, pointing to her diagram. “This is something I hope is a baby, but it’s not.”

Unfortunately, that’s not how the Alabama Supreme Court saw it.

Hopefully, Young’s proposal stays where it belongs — buried in a drawer.