NEW: ACLU fights efforts to overturn Rhode Island’s reproductive freedom law
Monday, September 20, 2021
The Rhode Island ACLU on Monday filed a court case to push back an effort to overturn a state law that protects an individual’s right to an abortion.
The filing comes as organized groups of reproductive freedom opponents across the country seek to restrict access to the proceedings and overturn Roe v. Wade.
About RI Law
In 2019, the Rhode Island General Assembly enacted the Reproductive Privacy Act, which codifies the principles of Roe v. Wade in state law. The law has been promoted for years by choice advocacy groups as a necessary safeguard against the now-confirmed fear, the ACLU says, that federal courts could allow states to gut the constitutional right to a Roe-guaranteed abortion. .
Even before the bill was signed by then governor Gina Raimondo, a group of anti-choice opponents of the law filed a lawsuit against him, “making a mishmash of arguments legal, including that the General Assembly did not have the power to adopt the statute, that it violated the US Constitution and that members of the public had the right to vote on any law protecting the right to abortion ”, according to the ACLU.
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After Superior Court Judge Melissa Darigan dismissed these and other arguments against the law, they appealed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court, where the ACLU’s “friend of the court” brief in opposition to the appeal was filed Monday.
“This case highlights the sad truth that, like the rest of the country, the struggle for reproductive freedom in Rhode Island is far from over,” said Steven Brown, executive director of the ACLU of RI. “The anti-choice fanatic’s effort to repeal this important law is a clear call to the General Assembly to take further action to protect this essential right to privacy.”
In the brief brief filed Monday, RI’s ACLU cooperating lawyer Lynette Labinger noted that “nothing in RPA requires, nor can it require, that a pregnant person terminate a pregnancy that they want. sue “and, in terms of standing for suing, Roe v. Wade specifically ruled that “the word ‘person’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment does not include unborn children.
The brief, which also refutes a handful of other arguments made by other plaintiffs in the trial, supports the position taken by the attorney general’s office, which defends the legality of the law.
Prior to the enactment of the 2019 law, the ACLU had successfully challenged in court half a dozen laws enacted by the General Assembly since 1973 that sought to erode abortion rights. Advocates of Choice are now pushing the legislature to pass a companion RPA bill that would repeal current laws that restrict government funding of abortions for state employees and the poor.
“Thirty-five years ago, voters in Rhode Island, by a two-to-one majority, made it clear that they supported reproductive choice and rejected an attempt to put an abortion ban in the Constitution of State. It took another thirty years to convince the General Assembly that the threat to Roe v. Wade was important enough that the state needed to act to preserve reproductive choice in Rhode Island, ”Labinger said. “Despite this clear history, anti-choice supporters bring this case claim that our Constitution contains the very prohibition that was flatly defeated in 1986. We hope the court will reject this attempt to rewrite history.