Iowa Supreme Court Rules Unborn Children Have Full Rights of Minors

Veronica Neffinger | Editor, | Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Iowa Supreme Court Rules Unborn Children Have Full Rights of Minors

Iowa Supreme Court Rules Unborn Children Have Full Rights of Minors

Iowa’s Supreme Court has ruled that unborn babies have the right to parental care and comfort, according to


The ruling came about after Brenna Gray, who was three to four months pregnant at the time, sued her husband’s doctors for contributing to his death and leaving her unborn child bereft of a parent.


Gray’s husband, Paul Gray, a founding member and bassist of the heavy metal band Slipknot, died from an accidental overdose of morphine and the painkiller Fentanyl in 2010. He had been trying to overcome a drug addiction.


In 2014, Brenna Gray sued her husband’s doctor and other medical providers for failing to properly monitor her husband’s treatment.


The judge in the case initially denied Gray’s lawsuit, but Gray also filed a lawsuit on behalf of her then unborn child, claiming her daughter had suffered the loss of parental “support, companionship, aid, affection, comfort, and guidance.”


Iowa allows lawsuits on behalf of minors who were under the age of eight when a parent died due to something such as medical malpractice. The court then faced the decision of whether an unborn baby was considered a minor--a decision with obvious implications for the pro-life/pro-choice debate.


“The ‘fetus’ is not a ‘minor’ … because the word ‘minor’ includes only living persons, and an unborn child is not yet living,” the defense claimed. 


Gray’s attorneys disagreed, citing pro-life arguments. Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of Gray and her daughter:


“[A] child conceived but not yet born at the time of [her] parent’s death can bring a parental consortium claim” after she is born, the court wrote in its decision. “Whatever deprivation of consortium O.D.G. [how the lawsuit refers to Gray’s daughter] is currently experiencing is no less real just because she did not experience it in utero.”



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Publication date: May 11, 2016