The Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to wade into the so-called fetal personhood debate, deciding not to take up a case out of Rhode Island over whether fetuses should have constitutional rights.
A Catholic group and two pregnant women wanted to sue on behalf of the women’s unborn fetuses, but the Rhode Island Supreme Court – citing Roe v. Wade – said in May that they didn’t have the legal right to bring the case.
The challengers urged the Supreme Court to step in and take the case after it overturned Roe in June. But the court declined to do so without comment.
“This Court should grant the writ to finally determine whether prenatal life, at any gestational age, enjoys constitutional protection – considering the full and comprehensive history and tradition of our Constitution and law supporting personhood for unborn human beings,” the petitioners wrote in their request for the court to consider the case.
The issue of fetal personhood raises complicated questions regarding the rights of fetuses that could impact issues such as in vitro fertilization and child support going forward.
Since the court overturned Roe earlier this year, conservative states have enforced bans either restricting the procedure or banning it outright.