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Redefining Childhood: Alabama Supreme Court Rules Frozen IVF Embryos Are Children

In a shocking/not shocking ruling on February 16, 2024, the Alabama Supreme Court has stated that frozen embryos intended for possible in vitro fertilization use are, legally, children, and their destruction can be prosecuted under Alabama’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.  The 8-1 decision by the exclusively Republican nine-member Court allows couples whose frozen embryos were inadvertently removed from storage and allowed to deteriorate to sue a Mobile, Alabama fertility clinic for the wrongful death of their “children.”

Before proceeding, I’d like to propose a simple test of personhood upon which perhaps we can all agree.  If you place a child in a freezer indefinitely, it will die.  If it can be frozen, and doesn’t die, then it’s not a child.  With all due respect to the couples whose potential progeny were destroyed in this accident, “wrongful death” may not be the best way to pursue prosecution of the clinic’s inexcusable negligence.

But to return to our narrative.  The statute in question, dating to 1872, states that parents or close surviving kin of children can sue those responsible “when the death of a minor child is caused by the wrongful act, omission, or negligence of any person, persons, or corporation, or the servants or agents of either.”  It has long been interpreted as applying to expectant mothers in whatever stage of pregnancy whose unborn children were killed; for example, in an auto accident, even if the mother herself survived.  But this ruling considerably ups the ante, extending legal protections to “extrauterine” children, AKA fertilized eggs. 

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The Alabama Supreme Court, composed of exclusively Republican Justices, has a long history of handing down conservative, traditionalist, theologically-based rulings; the IVF embryo decision is explicitly so, with Mercury (rulings) conjoined by asteroids Christian and Church

In 2020, three couples brought a lawsuit against the Center for Reproductive Medicine for failing to properly safeguard frozen embryos, resulting in their destruction.  The case, denied by lower courts, had been held pending appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court, and is now revived with this ruling.  Court filings cite the plaintiffs as “James LePage and Emily LePage, individually and as parents and next friends of two deceased LePage embryos, Embryo A and Embryo B; and William Tripp Fonde and Caroline Fonde, individually and as parents and next friends of two deceased Fonde embryos, Embryo C and Embryo D.”

The skies recorded this bizarre development in America’s culture wars with their usual panache and style.  Over the years, I have found TNO Quaoar 50000 to be a useful marker for issues of fertility and conception, including abortion, cloning and in vitro techniques.  Named for a deity of the indigenous Tongva peoples of southern California who danced and sang the world into existence, Quaoar has a resonance with (pro)creation, and often appears prominently in such charts as the “Roe v Wade” decision; the birth of Louise Brown, the first IVF baby; and the first cloned sheep, Dolly.

TNO Quaoar, named for a creation god of the indigenous Tongva peoples, has connections to IVF via its resonance with procreation and affiliated matters; Quaoar for the ruling conjoins an exact pairing of asteroid Child with TNO Ixion, named for the first murderer in Greek myth

Quaoar continues to demonstrate its usefulness in this regard with the chart for the current ruling.   At 9 Capricorn, Quaoar conjoins an exact conjunction of asteroid Child 4580 and TNO Ixion 28978 at 5 Capricorn, neatly encapsulating the situation, where embryos are given the same protections as minors (Child).  Ixion is named for the first murderer in Greek myth, and the Court’s ruling potentially opens the door to charges of homicide based in lab accidents involving fertilized cells. 

Quaoar is semisquare the Sun at 27 Aquarius, throwing a bright spotlight on the subject of creation, fertility and IVF (which I would contend falls into Quaoar’s bailiwick via its affinity with creating human life).  The Court’s involvement in the process is seen as Quaoar’s sesquiquadrate to asteroid Themis 24 at 27 Taurus, named for the Greek goddess of justice, itself exactly squared the Sun, again highlighting the Alabama Supreme Court.   Quaoar is also exactly squared to asteroid Karma 3811 at 9 Aries, suggesting unintended consequences. 

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The current bench of the Alabama Supreme Court, all Republicans; an exact square from the Sun to asteroid Themis (Greek goddess of justice) at the ruling places a bright spotlight on the court and its decisions

And indeed, those have already become manifest, as predicted by Alabama Justice Greg Cook, the only jurist dissenting to the majority opinion.  Cook found that the 1872 law did not define “minor child” and was being stretched from the original intent to cover frozen embryos.  “No court — anywhere in the country — has reached the conclusion the main opinion reaches,” he wrote, adding the ruling “almost certainly ends the creation of frozen embryos through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Alabama.”  

And in fact, three Alabama medical facilities have already suspended IVF treatments in the wake of the ruling, concerned about the legal ramifications of continuing this work going forward.  The fallout for other couples seeking IVF treatments to become parents could be severe, should the Alabama trend become nationalized.  Roughly 2% of American births annually are attributed to in vitro pregnancies, some half million in total.

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Justice Greg Cook was the only dissenting voice on the court; his reluctance to accept the majority opinion and the increased visibility that caused is seen as asteroid Cook, sextile asteroid NOT (a general disqualifier or symbol of refusal to proceed) and squared the Sun, with asteroid Gregory conjoined it

Justice Cook’s dissenting opinion is shown as asteroid Cook 3061 at 28 Scorpio, sextile asteroid NOT 2857 at 24 Virgo, a symbol of negation, opposition or refusal to proceed.  Cook is also squared the Sun conjunct asteroid Gregory 2527 with Damocles 5335, both at 0 Pisces, highlighting (Sun) Greg Cook (Gregory, Cook) and identifying him with his warning of the looming threat (Damocles) this ruling portends to IVF treatments. 

The majority opinion has been criticized for its activist temperament and overt religiosity, with Justice Jay Mitchell writing, “Unborn children are ‘children’ … without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics,” thus extending the law to include extrauterine locations and aggregates of fertilized cells.  Jay Mitchell appears as asteroid Mitchella 1455, opposing the Sun from 24 Leo, in a T-Square with Themis and asteroid Justitia at 22 Taurus, named for Themis’ Roman counterpart.  This focuses attention (Sun) on the Court’s (Themis, Justitia) majority opinion, authored by Mitchell (Mitchella).  Also here is Uranus at 19 Taurus, governing controversy (as well as the science necessary to perform IVF), something not in short supply subsequent to the ruling.

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Justice Jay Mitchell wrote the opinion for the majority; his centrality to the proceedings is seen as asteroid Mitchella opposed the Sun, in a T-Square with Themis (his Justice job title)

The religion-based jurisprudence was made abundantly clear by Chief Justice Tom Parker’s concurrence, wherein he opined that the state constitution includes the “theologically based view” that “human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God,” adding, “Even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory.”

The theological nature of the majority opinion is represented as asteroids Church 10343 and Christian 1192158 at 18 and 19 Aquarius, conjoined Mercury, ruling decisions and written statements, at 18 Aquarius, with asteroid Thomas 2555, for Chief Justice Tom Parker, also here, at 14 Aquarius, signaling his special support for the decision.  The effect of his religious beliefs in his judicial views is therefore apparent.  This grouping also squares Uranus, reinforcing the controversial nature of his concurrence, which amounts to a controversy within a controversy.  Chief Justice Parker is also represented by asteroid Parker 5392, which at 5 Pisces conjoins Saturn at 8 Pisces, ruling conservatism and traditional values, also sextile the Quaoar cluster.

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Is that a law book or a Bible? Chief Justice Tom Parker’s overtly religious concurrence is seen as asteroid Thomas conjoined asteroids Christian and Church, all with Mercury (rulings, decisions); his staunch conservative stance is reflected in asteroid Parker conjunct Saturn

The suing couples are themselves denominated in the skies.  William and Caroline Fonde are seen as asteroid Wiliam 270373 at 20 Aries, conjunct asteroid Montgomery 16207 (the state capital, where the Supreme Court sits) at 24 Aries, sextile the Sun (spotlight) and trine asteroid Mitchella (indicating support – trine – for their case, in the majority opinion authored by Justice Mitchell); and asteroid Carolina 235 at 0 Aquarius, exactly conjoined Pluto and Venus, also conjunct Mars at 2 Aquarius, with Venus ruling women, Mars ruling sexual activity and genitalia, and Pluto ruling cellular processes, regeneration and birth.

James and Emily LePage are seen as asteroid James 2335 and Emilyann 33399 at 22 and 23 Pisces, conjunct Neptune at 26 Pisces opposed NOT at 24 Virgo.  Neptune suggests a degree of religious fanaticism or zealotry (but also the disappointment and sorrow they felt as a result of the accident), and NOT here translates as the couple’s staunch refusal to accept the loss of their embryos.  Emily LePage is also seen as asteroid Emilia 85564, which at 0 Scorpio exactly squares Pluto/Venus; the couple as a whole is further represented by asteroid Lepage 2795, which at 7 Pisces conjoins Saturn and asteroid Parker, again symbolizing Chief Justice Parker on their side (conjunction), interpreting the law (Saturn) to their advantage.

The loss of these couples’ hopes for the future of their embryos is tragic and heart-wrenching, and should be compensated in some form.  But to equate conglomerations of fertilized cells, isolated from human contact in a frozen environment, with full personhood is sheer lunacy.

Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

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