We work hard to protect our right to abortion knowing that the ability to manage our health, control our bodies and planning our families and futures is critical! We educate and we organize, but sometimes this work happens in courts and that can be harder to understand. Continue to come back to this page and we will work to keep you informed.
The ACLU of Rhode Island filed a court brief on Monday, September 20th seeking to beat back an effort to overturn the Reproductive Privacy Act (RPA). What does this mean?
In 2019, shortly after Gov. Raimondo signed the RPA into law, anti-choice individuals on behalf of themselves and their “unborn babies” sued Gov. Raimondo and the General Assembly on the grounds that the General Assembly lacked constitutional authority to pass the RPA and it was illegal for the Governor to sign the RPA into law.
Attorney General Neronha defended the lawsuit by moving to dismiss the lawsuit. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit because the plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which legal relief could be granted. Basically, there is no Rhode Island or federal constitutional provision that would preclude the General Assembly from passing the law.
Additionally, all the plaintiffs including “unborn babies” do not have standing, that is, the legal right to sue. This is an important part of a lawsuit. Standing is a requirement that a person or entity who brings a suit be a proper party to request adjudication of the particular issue involved.
The matter is now on appeal before the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Plaintiffs are claiming that their lawsuit should not have been dismissed because Art. 1, Sec. 2 of the Rhode Island Constitution, which was adopted in 1986, “expressly” prohibited the GA from enacting the RI. The plain language of that provision does not provide Plaintiffs with relief. Rather, they rely on affidavits drafted in 2019 to say that the participants of the 1986 Constitutional Convention intended Art. 1, Sec. 2 to prohibit the GA from enacting a law such as the RPA.
This is hogwash! In addition, the people who wrote the affidavits had not attended the Constitutional Convention, which means that they do not have personal knowledge of the things they were attesting to and the affidavits therefore lack evidentiary value.
This lawsuit and appeal is nothing but a nuisance. We are relieved that we live in a state that has an Attorney General who knows a bogus legal argument and is willing to stand up against attack on rights when he sees it. We trust that his arguments against this meritless appeal and the arguments and hard work of ACLU-RI will prevail. You can learn more here.