PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the state’s Reproductive Privacy Act.
The act was signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo in 2019 to protect abortion rights in case the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The decision comes two days after a draft of a Supreme Court opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked and published by Politico. The 1973 decision legalized abortion nationwide.
The R.I. Supreme Court rejected the challenge brought by Catholics for Life and others, arguing the state constitution prohibited making a law confirming the right to an abortion.
“The case before us involves a monumentally controversial issue as reflected in a deep and enduring societal divide,” Justice McKenna Goldberg wrote in a 27-page opinion. “This court appreciates the sensitive nature of the controversy surrounding the issue of the right to abortion, and we acknowledge the genuine concerns of the parties and amici in this case.”
Attorney General Peter Neronha said he applauds the decision the R.I. Supreme Court made.
“In 2019, I was proud to play a key role in our state’s codification of the important reproductive health care freedoms established by Roe vs. Wade and its progeny,” he said. “We have now successfully defended the Reproductive Privacy Act against a meritless legal challenge that our Supreme Court dismissed today.”
“The passage of the Reproductive Privacy Act and its continued viability ensures, during an uncertain national climate, that Rhode Island will not return to the days of illegal and unsafe abortions that put the lives of women in danger and created criminal liability for physicians,” Neronha continued.
House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi also issued a statement after Wednesday’s decision saying, “I am very pleased that the Rhode Island Supreme Court has affirmed the Reproductive Privacy Act enacted by the General Assembly. Regardless of any decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, Rhode Islanders can be assured that a woman’s right to choose will be protected in our state.”
A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Diane Messere Magee, wrote on Twitter that they would consider appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court because the ruling relies heavily on both Roe v. Wade and a related abortion case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
“I do not subscribe to the entirety of the language in the majority’s opinion that leads to that dispositive holding,” said Tyler Rowley, president of Servants of Christ for Life, in a statement released by Magee. “Despite this decision by the R.I. Supreme Court, we will continue to speak for the children who cannot speak for themselves.”