Human Embryos are Protected Under Louisiana Law

New Orleans – Earlier this week, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed that a human embryo can be considered an “unborn child” under Alabama state law. The decision follows a wrongful death lawsuit brought by three families in Alabama whose embryos were accidentally destroyed at an Alabama medical facility. 

The Executive Director of Louisiana Right to Life, Benjamin Clapper, has issued the following statement on the subject:

For decades, Louisiana law has been clear that, regardless of the circumstances of conception or the location of the developing embryo, human life begins at conception and deserves protection. These ethical standards have applied to in vitro fertilization for many years in Louisiana.

It is a scientific fact that the human embryo is a human being. In numerous medical textbooks, experts in embryology state that the human embryo is “the beginning of a new human being.” (1) Early pioneer of in vitro fertilization, Dr. Landrum B. Shettles, also said: “The zygote is human life… there is one fact that no one can deny; Human beings begin at conception.” (2)

Since 1986, Louisiana law has provided legal rights to human embryos, including those created by in vitro fertilization and not yet implanted in the womb (La. R.S. 9:121-133 & La. C.C. 26). These laws also prevent the intentional destruction of human embryos. At the same time, Louisiana law does allow the use of in vitro fertilization as long as it follows these legal protections for embryos. 

In addition, Louisiana law states that “every unborn child is a human being from the moment of conception and is, therefore, a legal person for purposes under the laws of this state and Constitution of Louisiana (RS 40:1061.1).”

We encourage the medical profession, and those practicing in vitro fertilization, to ensure ethical safeguards are in place to respect and protect human embryos.



1) Keith L. Moore, Before We Are Born, Essentials of Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2008. pp. 2.

2) From Landrum B. Shettles “Rites of Life: The Scientific Evidence for Life Before Birth” Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1983 p 40