Volume 108

The Unborn Citizen

by Michael H. LeRoy

In May of 2019, the Governor of Alabama signed House Bill 314 into law. The statue, entitled the Alabama Human Life Protection Act (“the Act”), makes abortion and attempted abortion felony offenses, except in cases in which the mother is at risk of serious health complications. This Article does not address the constitutional validity of the Act. Rather, it contends that the law has one large unintended consequence: the Act has the effect of extending birthright citizenship to any fetus that has a heartbeat; however, it does nothing to address the unborn child’s basic needs for shelter, food, and healthcare.

In this Article, I adopt the perspective of Sofía, an unborn child of an unlawful immigrant in Alabama, to show that the state’s laws, in combination with President Trump’s hostile treatment of unlawful immigrants, make Sofía’s unborn life more fragile compared to an unborn child of an American citizen. I suggest measures to secure Sofía’s in utero rights as an American birthright citizen: she must have a legal identity, access to basic welfare benefits, and access to healthcare and support from her mother’s legal employment.

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