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Feminist News


August-31-99

RI Judge Declares Ban on Late-Term Abortions To Be Unconstitutional

On Monday, a federal judge in Rhode Island struck down the state's two-year-old ban on late-term abortions, saying the law is unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ronald R. Lagueux said the law is unconstitutional because it is vague and could be interpreted to cover other abortions, because it does not make an exception for the health or life of the mother and because its civil remedies "place an undue burden on a woman's right to an abortion."

The decision permanently enjoins the state of Rhode Island from enforcing the ban.

The director of co-plaintiff Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island, Dr. Pablo Rodriguez, said the ruling shows how "courts continue to uphold the constitutionally protected right to an abortion," and that there is "no place for the Legislature" in a woman's decision regarding abortion.

The state is expected to appeal Lagueux's decision, and Joe Larisa, RI governor Lincoln Almond's executive counsel, said it is possible that the issue will not be entirely resolved until the Supreme Court considers a case on either Rhode Island's ban or a similar law that has been overturned in another state. A total of nineteen states have had late-term abortion bans challenged in court.

Media Resources: CBS News and the Providence Journal - August 31, 1999