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R.I. Supreme Court upholds state's abortion law

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has rejected a legal challenge to a state law guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion, ruling that lawmakers had constitutional authority to approve the Reproductive Privacy Act in 2019.

The decision comes shortly after a leaked draft decision indicates the U.S. Supreme Court may be poised to overturn Roe v Wade.

In 2019, amid what some called a growing national threat, the General Assembly passed an abortion rights law and then-Gov. Gina Raimondo signed it into law.

Catholics for Life and other opponents filed a legal challenge to the law, known as the Reproductive Privacy Act. They appealed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court when a Superior Court judge rejected their case.

Now, Rhode Island’s top court has ruled that state lawmakers had constitutional authority to pass the Reproductive Privacy Act in 2019. Two justices did not take part in the decision, Melissa Long and Erin Lynch Prarta who voted for the abortion law in her former role as a state senator and Senate Judiciary chairwoman.

Supporters hailed the decision, saying it shows that abortion will remain legal in Rhode Island.

“I am very pleased that the Rhode Island Supreme Court has affirmed the Reproductive Privacy Act enacted by the General Assembly,” House Speaker Joe Shekarchi said in a statement. “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.”

In a tweet, the plaintiffs say they are considering appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This story is a production of New England News Collaborative. It was originally published by The Public's Radio. 

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