Fetus Is a "Person," Says Arkansas Court

Case Involves Wrongful-Death Lawsuit

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas, MAY 11, 2001 (Zenit.org).- This state´s Supreme Court has ruled that a fetus is a person in a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by a man whose wife and unborn son died during birth procedures, the Associated Press reported.

In reversing a lower court, the state Supreme Court on Thursday cited a 1999 law that changed the Arkansas criminal code to include a living fetus of 12 weeks gestation in the definition of a person.

The case stemmed from the Dec. 13, 1995, death of Evangeline Aka and her unborn son about 30 hours after she was admitted to a hospital so labor could be induced. Aka´s husband Philip claimed the defendants were medically negligent.

«Given this amended definition of ´person,´ the Legislature plainly affords protection to unborn viable fetuses,´´ Chief Justice W.H. Arnold wrote for the court.

A circuit judge ruled in early 1999 against Aka´s claims, citing a Supreme Court ruling that a fetus was not a person in wrongful-death actions. Later that year, the Legislature approved a law specifying that an unborn baby could be considered a person for some purposes in criminal law.

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