Arizona Judge Rules Father May Present an Argument That He Is Representing the Estate of His Aborted Baby to Sue Abortion Doctor

According to Pro Publica, an Arizona judge this week ruled that U.S. Marine veteran Mario Villegas may represent the estate of his aborted child and sue the abortion doctor, and refer the doctor for wrongful death.

Villegas asserts in his complaint that doctors failed to properly inform his now ex-wife of the long-term medical risks of abortion, nor the “reasonable alternatives to abortion” such as counseling and putting the baby up for adoption. He said they failed to talk to her about the “intense and emotionally satisfying maternal bond and relationship inherent in birthing and raising that child.”

Villegas said this violates Arizona’s informed consent laws regarding abortions, A.R.S. 36-2153.

Signed into law in 2009, the statute contains a lengthy list of requirements that must take place before a physician can perform an abortion, including a counseling session for the mother and a 24-hour waiting period. Mothers must provide voluntary and informed consent.

The law specifically provides an avenue for certain family members of the fetus to sue the doctor if the mother does not provide informed consent. The litigant can receive damages for psychological, emotional, and physical injuries, statutory damages, and attorney fees, which Villegas is asking for. He also cited the pain and grief he will suffer from being deprived of his child’s love.

Gila County Superior Court Judge Bryan B. Chambers ruled that Villegas could proceed with his lawsuit against the clinic, making the argument that he was representing the fetus’s estate, but he would not rule on whether Villegas could technically represent the fetus’s estate until later. For now, Villegas has been appointed the personal representative of the estate

Villegas filed the lawsuit in 2020. It alleges that Dr. Gabrielle Goodrick of Camelback Family Planning rushed his ex-wife and himself. Villegas attended the clinic visits with his ex-wife. His lawsuit asserts, “evidence shows that in her rush to maximize profits,” Goodrick “cut corners” to get the procedure done quickly.

ProPublica reported that attorneys for his ex-wife state that she disagrees and had no problem with how the clinic treated her.

According to ProPublica, Villegas got the idea for the lawsuit from a similar case in Alabama. That lawsuit, filed by would-be father Ryan Magers, was eventually thrown out in 2020 by an Alabama circuit court judge, who stated his claims were “precluded by State and Federal laws.” Both Arizona and Alabama don’t define what a deceased person is in their probate code, leaving it to judges to determine. However, Alabama passed a constitutional amendment before the case was thrown out, declaring fetuses a person with the same rights as people.

Since the Roe v. Wade reversal, an old Arizona law banning all abortion except to protect the life of the mother may again take effect. An injunction was placed against it shortly after Roe v. Wade became law in 1973, but Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a motion on Wednesday seeking to lift it.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed a law earlier this year banning abortions after 15 weeks. Ducey tweeted last month that he was proud Arizona is ranked the most pro-life state in the country. If Villegas wins, it would be the first case in which an aborted fetus has been given legal rights.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News NetworkFollow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to ra[email protected].



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