SCOTUS declines to hear arguments in Rhode Island fetal personhood case

The United States Supreme Court declined this week to hear a case out of Rhode Island challenging the state’s right to abortion law based on the belief that personhood begins at conception.

The underlying dispute, brought against the state of Rhode Island by two women on behalf of their unborn babies and the religious organization Catholics for Life, was unsuccessful in the Rhode Island Supreme Court. 

The suit claimed the state had stripped the women’s unborn babies of their personhood by repealing an older law that stated life began at conception. The law was updated in 2019 with the enactment of the state’s Reproductive Privacy Act, which changed the law to align with the US Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision.

In the petition to SCOTUS, the plaintiffs ask the high court to reevaluate the 2019 state court decision in wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe earlier this year in its Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health ruling.

“As this court held in Dobbs, abortion laws are different from all others. Do unborn human beings, at any gestational age, have any rights under the United States Constitution?” the petition reads. “Or, has Dobbs relegated all unborn human beings to the status of persona non grata in the eyes of the United States Constitution — below corporations and other fictitious entities?”

The Supreme Court will not hear the case, however, in a move that avoids the court making any controversial decisions about abortion rights before next month’s midterm elections, in which abortion remains a hot button issue for voters.

A poll published on Tuesday showed over half of US voters are more motivated to vote in the midterms after the Supreme Court overturned Roe V Wade in June.




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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