PROVIDENCE, RI — Attorney General Peter F. Neronha reassured Rhode Islanders that the state abortion right stands and that he’s prepared to continue defending it after the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down the 50-year Roe v. Wade precedent upholding such rights nationally.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning Roe v. Wade: “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
The opinion was written by Republican-appointed Justice Samuel Alito. Joining his opinion were Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by the first President Bush, and the three Trump appointees — Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Chief Justice Roberts, appointed by President George W. Bush, concurred in the judgment only, NPR reports.
Dissenting were Democrat-appointed Justices Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Clinton, and Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, appointed by President Obama.
“I want to reassure Rhode Islanders that the right to an abortion remains protected here in Rhode Island. In 2019, Rhode Island codified Roe v. Wade and its progeny under our state’s Reproductive Privacy Act, ensuring that Rhode Island will not return to the days of illegal and unsafe abortions that endanger lives and create criminal liability for physicians,” Neronha said in a statement this morning.
ACLU of RI executive director Steven Brown called the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, “An unprecedented attack on women’s rights and reproductive freedom.”
Forcing someone to carry a pregnancy against their will has life-altering consequences, including possible serious health risks from continued pregnancy and childbirth, and the derailment of efforts to achieve equal status in the workplace and to make critical decisions about their lives, families, and careers, Brown said.
Brown cautioned that the Reproductive Privacy Act won’t be effective without legal protections ensuring accessibility and affordability of abortions also secured.
“Thanks to the General Assembly’s passage of the Reproductive Privacy Act three years ago, abortion remains safe and legal in Rhode Island. But it is essential that our leaders go further to ensure abortion is not only legal, but also accessible and affordable for everyone who needs it. It is therefore absolutely critical that legislators pass the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act at the earliest possible opportunity,” Brown said.
“For nearly half a century following the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, a woman’s right to choose whether to end her pregnancy has been an established, fundamental right. Indeed, that fundamental right has been so firmly established over the lives of multiple generations of Americans that until recently, the notion of the Supreme Court going backwards in time and eliminating it has been unthinkable. And yet that is precisely what the Supreme Court has done today, in a decision that endangers women’s health and turns the Court’s own long-standing principles recognizing the critical importance of adhering to legal precedent on their head,” Neronha said.
“Abortion is healthcare, and today’s decision upending almost 50 years of precedent threatens essential healthcare access in states across the country where abortion is restricted under state law,” he added, “My Office has successfully defended our Reproductive Privacy Act from a legal challenge before and we stand ready to defend it in the future.”
“Some of our most fundamental rights are now in jeopardy as a result of this decision, and the ACLU of Rhode Island pledges to work with others in fighting back against this extraordinary judicial attack on our basic freedoms,” Brown said.
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