Pro-life group challenges legislature’s authority to pass new abortion law

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A group of pro-life advocates has filed a constitutional challenge to Rhode Island’s newly signed abortion law, arguing the General Assembly did not have the legal authority to pass it.

The motion — filed in Superior Court Thursday by plaintiffs including the group Servants of Christ for Life — lists the governor, House speaker, Senate president and attorney general among its defendants.

The lawsuit sought to prevent the governor from signing the Reproductive Privacy Act into law, and also asks the state’s Supreme Court to certify whether the General Assembly has the legislative power to pass an act “with stated purpose ‘to codify the privacy rights guaranteed by the decision reached in the United State Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade.'”

Attorney Diane Messere Magee, who is representing the group of plaintiffs in the suit, argues that lawmakers relied on repealed plenary powers to pass the bill. She contends the issue should have been put to voters.

“The lawsuit is a complex constitutional challenge relying on not just its specific language, prohibiting the grant or securing of an abortion right in Rhode Island, but also relies on the fact that in 2004, the citizens of Rhode Island voted to approve [the] repeal of the plenary powers of the legislature,” she wrote in an email to Eyewitness News.

Magee also filed a temporary restraining order on behalf of the same group of plaintiffs in an attempt to stop the transmission of the bill to the governor’s desk. The motion was denied Thursday and the governor signed the bill into law.

“We expected that that motion would be denied,” Magee said. “However, we still have an action for preliminary injunction, permanent injunction; and, the main complaint regarding the Constitutional challenge — that is very much alive.”

Representatives for the state leaders named in the suit did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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