By Deborah Stilt — Many of our supporters followed the case of Ryan Magers, a father who sued on behalf of his pre-born child who was killed through abortion. A year ago, on October 30, 2020, Magers lost his final battle in the Alabama Supreme Court. However, the case was historic, not only in the fight for recognition of fathers’ rights, but in the struggle to re-establish legal personhood of the pre-born.
In February, 2019, Personhood Alliance affiliate, Personhood Alabama, filed suit in the Circuit Court of Madison County to seek justice for “Baby Roe.” The lawsuit, brought by Ryan Magers, the father of Baby Roe, charged the Alabama Women’s Center in Huntsville, the abortionist, and the pharmaceutical company, with profiting from the wrongful death of his pre-born child, despite his active efforts to stop the abortion.
Both Magers and his girlfriend were teens when she got pregnant in early 2017. His girlfriend informed Magers that she was pregnant, that he was the father, and that she was getting an abortion. Though he did all he could to talk her out of it, she killed their pre-born child through chemical abortion at approximately 6 weeks gestation.
“I just tried to plead with her and plead with her and just talk to her about it and see what I could do, but in the end, there was nothing I could do to change her mind.”
Though he was unable to save his child’s life, Magers wanted to give a voice to the countless fathers who are given no say in whether their pre-born children live or die.
“Even though there’s nothing I can do for the situation I was in, there is something I can do for the future situations for other people.”
Historic initial ruling
Many on both sides of the abortion debate assumed Magers’ claim would be dismissed outright. Then, in an unprecedented move, Madison County probate judge Frank Barger recognized the right of Magers to sue as the personal representative of the estate of his deceased child, allowing the case to move forward. This victory was short lived, however, as circuit judge Chris Comer went on to dismiss the case, claiming Magers had failed to prove that anything illegal had happened at the abortion clinic.
The devastated father continued to fight all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court, where on October 30, 2020, his case was again dismissed. The Supreme Court said Magers failed in his appeal to comply with Rule 28, which requires an appeal to argue the case with citations to case law and statutes. This meant the court determined there was nothing to review on appeal, and therefore upheld the circuit court ruling. However, they took the opportunity in their opinion to call out the unjust ruling of Roe v. Wade.
“The judgment of the Madison Circuit Court must be affirmed because Ryan Magers failed to comply with Rule 28, Ala. R. App. P., which is necessary to properly bring an appeal before our Court. I write separately, however, to state my view that Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), are due to be overruled by the United States Supreme Court.”
A silver lining
While the ruling was certainly a blow to Magers and his legal team and a disappointment to all those who prayed for him and gave to his cause, the reality is his case accomplished much good. It was historic for several reasons:
- It established, for the first time ever, the right of the father to sue on behalf of his pre-born child killed by abortion. This has the potential to establish lasting legal precedent for other fathers who wish to intervene on behalf of their pre-born children.
- It acknowledged the death of the child killed by abortion, “Baby Roe”, as a person with an interest to defend.
- The Supreme Court did not reject Magers’ claim outright, but on a technicality, leaving the door open for future cases of this nature to be pursued.
So while it certainly was not the outcome we had hoped for, Ryan Magers stood courageously in defense of his child, thereby paving the way for other fathers to do the same. May we remember his fight and the countless innocents Baby Roe represents. And may we carry the fight forward, until the rights of all persons—born and pre-born—are recognized and equally protected under the law.
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Deborah Stilt is the vice president of Personhood Alliance Education and the social media coordinator for the Personhood Alliance. She has been active in pro-life media and foster care advocacy for several years. But most importantly, she’s a California mom who is fighting against the lies of the culture and for the protection of every human being without exception.