US Supreme Court refuses to rule on whether fetuses have constitutional rights

The United States Supreme Court refused on Tuesday (11) to accept a case that would have had to determine whether a fetus can have constitutional rights, a few months later

The highest court in the country took this decision without offering further explanation on the appeal filed by a Catholic organization and two pregnant women representing their fetuses against a May decision by the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

This court decided to leave the Rhode Island abortion law, enacted in 2019, intact, ruling that fetuses have no right to challenge this rule because they are not “persons”.

Rhode Island law speaks of a “legal right to abortion”. At the national level, in the Roe v. Wade, in 1973, the country’s Supreme Court prevented US states from banning abortion before so-called viability – the minimum period of gestation for a fetus to survive outside the uterus, now estimated at about 24 weeks. Last June, the court overturned that decision.

The Rhode Island plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in June of 2019, when they were pregnant with

and 34 weeks, arguing that the state abortion law was unconstitutional.

In their petition, the women and the Catholics for Life group argued that the state rule stripped fetuses of their personhood, because it repealed previous state legislation that established that human life begins at conception.

Therefore, in their lawsuit, they argued that they should be able to vote against state abortion law in a referendum.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit in May, claiming that a referendum was futile and that none of the adult plaintiffs had been harmed by state law.

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In the decision of 1973, the United States Supreme Court established that the word “person” contained in the 11 th amendment to the Constitution, which recognizes civil rights, does not include the fetus.

However, its decision last June that overturned that sentence paved the way for a full analysis of the repercussions of the 1973 decision and for cases that are presented to the court in which it must decide on the status of the fetus as a person and, if so, whether it has constitutional rights.

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