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Alabama courts, the Bible, and when human life becomes a person


When did Alabama law first protect human life?

As the current Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court stated in a 2024 concurring opinion: Lepage vs. Reproductive Health Center, states his answer to this question. He concluded that Alabama law fully protects frozen embryos fertilized in a laboratory as human beings. In support, the Chief Justice discusses Bible passages and the writings of Christian theologians.

There are nine justices on the Alabama Supreme Court. Six others reached similar results, but did not explicitly join the Chief Justice's concurring opinion. Why not? Perhaps because most lawyers agree that under the U.S. Constitution, the Bible, Koran, and other religious texts should not be used to interpret laws.

However, another writer opined:[t]His decision not only blurs the line between church and state; It erases them, embeds particular religious perspectives in the law, and ignores the pluralistic society it is supposed to govern. ” B. Britt Opinion: Alabama's church-state merger and the hell that comes with itAlabama Political Representative (March 4, 2024).

As a practical matter, many lawyers and non-lawyers look to religious texts, most often the Bible in Alabama, for answers. So let's set aside for now the important constitutional question of whether the Bible should be used to interpret Alabama's laws.

Instead, another question is discussed below: Does the Bible support the Chief Justice's interpretation of Alabama law? Short answer – no, it isn't. Let's see why.

of Lepage opinion

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On February 16, 2024, the Alabama Supreme Court issued the following decision: Lepage, The IVF decision ruled that the frozen embryos stored in the cryogenic nursery were “minors” to which Alabama's Wrongful Death of Minors Act applies. Five of the nine justices joined in the main opinion, creating a binding precedent. The chief justice wrote a separate document and did not join the main opinion. One of the judges gave an opinion and agreed with the result. Two judges dissented in their opinions.

The chief justice's opinion, most important to this debate, relies on a 2018 amendment to the Alabama Constitution, which it writes is “also known as the Sanctity of Unborn Life Amendment.” As part of his discussion of “sacredness,” he writes: [with] Its roots go back to the creation of humans “in the image of God.” Genesis 1:27 (King James Version). ” In conclusion, he writes: “It is as if the people of Alabama took the words of the prophet Jeremiah and applied them to every unborn child in this state: “Before I formed you in the womb, I I knew you before you were born, and I sanctified you.’ Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV 1982).”

The main opinion concluded that the provisions of the Alabama Wrongful Death of a Minor Act “apply without limitation to all children, born and unborn.” It relies heavily on the definition of “child” chosen in modern dictionaries, and does not discuss inconsistent definitions of “child”. The main opinions include “[e]But even if the word “child'' was ambiguous, the Alabama Constitution would require courts to resolve the ambiguity in favor of protecting the unborn child. ”

The two opponents rely on “originalism” instead of modern dictionaries. This is what the Alabama Wrongful Death of a Minor Act meant when it was passed. Justice Sellers writes: [] It cannot be concluded that embryos developed through in vitro fertilization were created intentionally. [Alabama’s 1872] The legislative branch is also included in the definition of “person”. . . Judge Cook wrote that “deeply held personal views about the sanctity of life cannot alter the meaning of the words established by Congress elected in 1872.”

Researched human life and human problems in the Bible in 1978

Side note: I learned for the first time what the Bible says about the question of human life becoming human with the late Rev. Frank Barker, founding pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church. Next to his parents, he was the most important influence on me growing up.

In the summer of 1978, Pastor Barker stated from the pulpit his general position against abortion: Abortion takes human life and is morally equivalent to murder. Six or seven years ago, he preached to comfort women who had miscarried, saying that miscarriages do not mean that souls who have not accepted God's grace will go to hell, because humans do not have souls until they can breathe. He preached that it was because there was no such thing. The Spirit of God dwelled within them.

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When I told my mother that I was concerned about Pastor Barker's inconsistency, she encouraged me to make an appointment with him. He was kind enough to help me, a 19-year-old college student, by providing reading material and meeting with me several times to analyze relevant Bible passages together. The following is my (not Rev. Barker's) opinion, first written in 1978.

Does the Chief Justice cite Bible verses to support his case?

The Chief Justice cites Bible verses that are consistent with his argument, but do not support it. Let's look at the scriptures he quoted.

First Bible Verse Quoted: Genesis 1:27 says that God “created man in his own image.” Human beings are the image of God, and therefore what makes them different from other creatures created by God? Genesis 2:7 explains that when God first formed man, He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” And man became a living soul. ”

Hebrew Ruach It can be translated as wind, breath, or spirit. The first time this word is used in the Bible is in Genesis 1:2 (NIV). [Ruach Elohim] It was floating on the water. ” The Bible can be read as God's, and traditionally has been. RuachGod's Spirit, breath, or both, giving humans a soul or spirit, thereby separating them from other living creatures.

Being human and being alive is clearly not enough. All human sperm are human and alive. Almost everyone dies. No one disputes that God created human sperm as human beings, created in the image of God, with souls and spirits.

When do humans take on the image of God? When do they take their first breath? Based on Genesis, that seems like the most likely answer. When is the baby first able to breathe (when it can survive outside the womb)? When is the egg first fertilized?

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In other words, even if we accept that God created humans in His image, we do not know when we have or take on a spirit or soul, which separates us from the rest of creation. It is impossible to know who will become fully human. Instead, Genesis suggests that we as humans bear or bear the image of God, and that we become complete men when we take our first breath. However, Genesis is ambiguous and not direct.

quoting bible verses: The complete NKLV of Jeremiah 1:5 provides: Before you were born I sanctified you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations. ” First, the entire text makes it clear that Jeremiah is writing what God personally told him. This verse is not about all humans as it appears on the surface.

On the other hand, don't most Christians believe that God shapes everyone? Similarly, God also forms all animals, ants, and amoeba by way of example. Therefore, Jeremiah 1:5 does not say anything about when we humans have or are endowed with a spirit or soul, and therefore does not say anything about when we humans have or are endowed with a spirit or soul, and therefore we humans are different from the rest of God's creation. Nor does it say when they become different personalities.

What else does the Bible say about human life being human?

One approach to understanding ambiguous passages of scripture is to use other passages of scripture. I have heard many times that the Bible has nothing to do with abortion. I'm sure some people will disagree. His two passages in the Bible are best understood as relating to the time when humans become persons.

first verse of the bible: Exodus 21:22 (NIV) provides:[i]”The people quarreled and beat the pregnant woman, causing her miscarriage, but she was not seriously injured. The offenders shall be fined as long as the woman's husband demands and the court approves.” Exodus 21:22 , we find that hitting a woman and causing her to miscarry is not a serious injury, and that miscarriage is comparable to a property crime punishable only by a fine.

In general, Old Testament punishments were severe. Exodus 21:17 (NIV) demands:[a]Anyone who curses his father or mother will be put to death. ” Leviticus 20:10 (NIV) demands.[i]”If a man commits adultery with another's wife, that is, with his neighbor's wife, both the adulterer and the adulterer shall be punished with death.” Morally, it is not equivalent to murder, and causing a miscarriage is It seems much less serious than cursing, and much less serious than adultery.

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Since 1978, many Bible scholars and commentators have attempted to explain why this passage in Exodus does not imply what it appears to imply. Perhaps these explanations are correct, but the best interpretation is almost always the simplest one.

bible verse 2: Numbers 5:11-31 instructs a husband to bring her to the priest if he suspects his wife has committed adultery. Her priest must make her drink “bitter water.” Numbers 21:27-28 (NIV) explains: enters her, her abdomen swells, her uterus miscarries, and she becomes a curse. However, if a woman does not make herself unclean and remains clean, she will be cleared of sin and will be able to bear children. ”

If abortion is morally equivalent to murder, would a priest be involved in giving a medical abortion to an adulterous woman? If the fertilized egg in the uterus were human, would the test results indicate a medical abortion?

The Hebrew word translated here as “miscarriage” is literally “thigh rot” or “thigh fall,” and seems to be a euphemism for miscarriage or miscarriage. If the correct translation is not miscarriage, then this passage has no meaning. A jealous husband takes his wife to be examined by a priest to see if she committed adultery, but will leave without an answer. And if she had not miscarried, the innocent wife would have been tested and left without her name being cleared.

Again, since 1978, many Bible scholars and commentators have attempted to explain why this passage in Numbers does not mean what it appears to mean on the surface. I'm here. Perhaps these explanations are correct, but the best interpretation is almost always the simplest one.

Summary and conclusion

In summary, to answer whether Fertilized Egg is a protected person under Alabama law, the Chief Justice relies on Bible verses to support his position. And other parts of the Bible are best interpreted as contradicting his position.

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In conclusion, we should all agree that possible misinterpretations of the Bible should not be used to interpret Alabama law.



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