Edward Fitzpatrick | Boston Globe >>
September 21, 2022
Though it has a similar name, the local group is not connected to the national organization that filed legal briefs urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe. v. Wade
PROVIDENCE — Democratic congressional candidate Seth Magaziner on Tuesday noted newly filed financial disclosure forms show his Republican opponent, Allan W. Fung, is on the board of the St. Thomas More Society of RI, saying that underscores how Fung would oppose abortion rights if he’s elected to Congress.
The Magaziner campaign described the Rhode Island group as a chapter of the national organization, the Thomas More Society, that filed legal briefs in the case of Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, urging the US Supreme Court case to overturn Roe v. Wade.
But the Rev. Bernard A. Healey, a former board member of the St. Thomas More Society of RI, said the group is not a chapter of any national group but is a local fraternal group for the spiritual support of Catholic lawyers and judges. In years past, it has organized the Annual Red Mass and seminars on topics of interest to Catholic lawyers and jurists. It does not file legal briefs, he said.
Healey noted the national group is a public interest law firm “dedicated to defending life, from conception to natural death, the family, and First Amendment rights, including freedom of speech and religious liberty.” And he said St. Thomas More Society of RI “is not affiliated in any way to that group other than sharing a name of the patron saint of lawyers and politicians, St. Thomas More.”
On Tuesday, the Magaziner campaign sought to link Magaziner’s opponent to the national group, which filed a legal brief in a lawsuit against the state of Rhode Island, attempting to overturn the Reproductive Privacy Act, a 2019 state law aimed at protecting abortion rights in case Roe v. Wade was overturned.
“Today’s revelation that Allan Fung is a member of a group that fought to overturn the protections of Roe vs. Wade at both the US Supreme Court and Rhode Island Supreme Court shows once again that he will not stand up for Rhode Island women and should not serve in Congress,” Magaziner said in a statement. “I will always fight for the right of Rhode Island women to make their own healthcare decisions, while Allan Fung would put those decisions in the hands of politicians in Washington.”
The Fung campaign did not distinguish between the national and local organizations in its response to Magaziner.
Steven Paiva, spokesman for the Fung campaign, instead responded by pointing to video of Magaziner speaking about how his previous employer, Trillium Asset Management, worked with Catholic organizations that didn’t want to invest in companies that supported abortion.
“Since Seth wants to talk about abortion, he should start by explaining how he went from being paid to target and divest from companies supportive of abortion to a political candidate now calling for the exact opposite,” Paiva said. “Is he going to return the money he made from those transactions?”
Paiva said Fung has consistently said he is running for Congress “to fix the economic mess left by the policies” of President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Magaziner, the state’s general treasurer. “He has been consistent about his Catholic faith and consistent in his respect for women having the right to make a medical decision,” he said.
During an appearance on the Rhode Island Report podcast in May, Fung told the Globe that he opposed the Reproductive Privacy Act. “I thought it went too far because it not only codified but it made the change in the statute and other changes besides Roe,” Fung has said. “So I thought that went too far.”
By contrast, Magaziner said he supported the Reproductive Privacy Act and has been endorsed by the National Organization for Women.