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Rhode Island Under Fire as Thomas More Society Files Amicus Brief Over 2019 Reproductive Privacy Act

— August 20, 2021

The Thomas More Society filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Rhode Island against the state’s 2019 Reproductive Privacy Act.

An amicus brief was recently filed by the Thomas More Society on behalf of a pro-life group and others who are pushing back against a 2019 law that “codified and expanded abortion rights in Rhode Island.” The brief was submitted on July 15 to the Supreme Court of Rhode Island and argues “that voters and preborn children have standing to challenge the constitutionality of Rhode Island’s 2019 Reproductive Privacy Act.”

Pro-life march
Pro-life march; image courtesy of FamilyMan88 via Wikimedia Commons,

When commenting on the suit, Thomas Olp, vice president and senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, said, “There are several issues here in which a lower court erred.” In a press release, he added that the “personhood of a pre- or post-viable child in utero, in this case, is not negated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that declared abortion to be a constitutional right.” He added:

 “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.”

 Under the 2019 legislation, abortions in Rhode Island can be performed “after a fetus is viable outside the womb — usually around the 22nd week of pregnancy — in cases where the physician determines it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother.” Pro-life leaders and organizations have pushed back against the law because it makes it even easier “for women to obtain late-term abortions for virtually any reason.

Barth E. Bracy, the executive director of the Rhode Island Right to Life Committee, said:

 “The New York-style abortion-on-demand bill passed by the General Assembly and signed by then-Governor Gina Raimondo may be the most shameful event in the history of Rhode Island…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…At the legislature, at the ballot box, and before the courts, this ignominious statute should be vigorously opposed and, pray God soon, overturned. I pray that the good efforts of the plaintiffs and the Thomas More Society will prosper.”

Catholics for Life is one of the plaintiffs. In the suit, the organization argues the law “violates the rights as citizens of Rhode Island.” The defendants include Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, the current U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and her administration.

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

 As part of the suit, the plaintiffs argue that “prior to the 2019 law, an unborn post-viable fetus was recognized as a person entitled to relief in Rhode Island state courts.” However, the Reproductive Privacy Act “immediately and irrevocably stripped the unborn’s privileged legal status, rights, and protections,” the suit claims.


Thomas More Society files amicus brief against former Governor Raimondo on behalf of local pro-life group

Voters and Preborn Children Find Support in Thomas More Society Rhode Island Supreme Court Filing

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