WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case challenging a radical Rhode Island abortion law, rejecting an opportunity to build upon the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade and affirm that the U.S. Constitution recognizes that unalienable rights begin in the womb.
In September, Catholics for Life filed a petition with the Supreme Court along with two expectant mothers representing their unborn babies, challenging Rhode Island’s 2019 Reproductive Privacy Act (RPA), which codified the “right to abortion” as defined in Roe and deprived their babies of their personhood by repealing the states pre-Roe abortion ban, which had expressly recognized that “human life commences at the instant of conception,” and an unborn baby is “a person within the language and meaning of the fourteenth amendment of the constitution of the United States.”
The petitioners request that the Court recognize the personhood of unborn babies under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, which forbids any state from “deny[ing] to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” arguing that when the Court restored states’ ability to set abortion policy in June’s Dobbs ruling, it “avoided the question of ‘when prenatal life is entitled to any rights enjoyed after birth,’” and this suit presents an “opportunity for this Court to meet that inevitable question head on.”
But on Tuesday, the Court released an order list confirming that their petition had been denied, without elaboration as to the reasons why or which justices would have heard the case. Four votes would have sufficed to take the case, meaning that only three or fewer justices were willing to consider the matter.
While overturning Roe represented an enormous victory for the pro-life movement, reactivating new and old abortion bans in various states, the issue remains far from resolved.
National Democrats support both codifying a right to abortion in federal law, which would undo every state pro-life law and prohibit new ones, and promoting interstate travel from abortion-free states to abortion-friendly ones, which would help circumvent those laws. Pro-life groups such as the Thomas More Society and the National Association of Christian Lawmakers are currently exploring potential policies to counteract the latter problem, though any state-level response will likely face difficult legal challenges.
Regardless, pro-lifers say the problem highlights the need for abortion bans in states that don’t yet have them, and for settling the issue in every state by eventually passing a federal ban.