Pro-Life Group Asks Court to Strike Down Rhode Island Law Legalizing Abortions Up to Birth

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Aug 20, 2021   |   12:29PM   |   Providence, Rhode Island

Rhode Island voters have filed a lawsuit challenging a 2019 law that allows unborn babies to be aborted through all nine months of pregnancy in their state.

The plaintiffs, including voters, unborn babies, mothers and Catholics for Life, accused lawmakers of using the law to create a state constitutional right to abortion without voters and stripping away unborn babies’ legal rights.

The Rhode Island Catholic reports the Thomas More Society, a pro-life legal group, recently filed an amicus brief to the Rhode Island Supreme Court defending the lawsuit.

“We are asking the court to acknowledge that a preborn child has standing to challenge the Reproductive Privacy Act’s removal of legal protections under Rhode Island law, including the fetal homicide law and other laws that may protect her,” said Thomas Olp, vice president and senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, in a statement.

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In 2019, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed the radical pro-abortion law despite wide-spread public opposition. The law expanded abortions in Rhode Island by allowing abortions through all nine months of pregnancy for any loosely-defined “health” reason. It also repealed the state fetal homicide law, which provided justice to mothers and unborn babies who were victims of violent crimes.

Barth E. Bracy, executive director of the Rhode Island Right to Life Committee, criticized the General Assembly and former Gov. Gina Raimondo for using shady tactics to force the state to legalize abortion on demand.

“Through a series of treacherous, thuggish and possibly illegal machinations, abortion proponents succeeded in creating a first-ever ‘right’ under state law to take the life of an innocent human being,” Bracy said, according to the Rhode Island Catholic. “At the legislature, at the ballot box and before the courts, this ignominious statute should be vigorously opposed and, pray God soon, overturned.”

In their brief, lawyers with the Thomas More Society said the law deprives unborn babies’ of basic human rights. They said the law also basically created a constitutional “right” to abortion without voters’ approval.

“The General Assembly on its own has no power to alter the Constitution and it acted unlawfully in doing so through passage of the [pro-abortion law],” the brief states.

“Since the constitution requires that an amendment be approved through a vote of the ‘whole people,’ which did not occur here, Rhode Island voters who oppose a change in the constitution on abortion were denied their constitutional right to vote against it,” the legal group argued.

Pro-life advocates filed their lawsuit soon after the law passed in 2019. Two of the plaintiffs included unborn babies who, at the time, were at 15-weeks and 34-weeks of pregnancy.

According to the report:

“Rhode Island is a unique state with respect to the unborn child prior to the passage of the [Reproductive Privacy Act],” said Diane Messere Magee, a Warren attorney who is representing the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs’ lawsuit argues that prior to the 2019 law, an unborn post-viable fetus was recognized as a “person” entitled to relief in Rhode Island state courts. The lawsuit says the Reproductive Privacy Act “immediately and irrevocably” stripped the unborn’s privileged legal status, rights and protections.

A lower court dismissed the case in 2019, arguing that the plaintiffs do not have standing to sue; but they are appealing to the state Supreme Court.