Roe v. Wade Ruling: Impact on Connecticut
Friday’s landmark ruling overturning Roe v. Wade won’t have a direct impact on Connecticut, where abortion is guaranteed in state law, but providers are warning about longer wait times as out-of-state patients will seek reproductive care here.
The decision led to two very different reactions in Connecticut.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal called the ruling “political.”
"It strips women of freedom to decide when, and whether, to become pregnant,” he said.
But abortion opponents are celebrating a decision they say protects life.
"To us, it's wonderful that it came down the same week as the holiday for Juneteenth,” said Peter Wolfgang, president of the Family Institute of Connecticut. “This is the liberation of the unborn child."
The ruling is blunt: "The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives."
Same-sex marriage and birth control could even be at risk. In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested cases legalizing both issues could be reviewed. But other justices stressed that the other rulings are not at risk because they don’t involve terminating a pregnancy.
Contraception was legalized nationally after the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, which overturned a century-old state law banning "any drug, medicinal article, or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception."
State Attorney General William Tong says he will fight any attempts to weaken reproductive protections in Connecticut, including a national abortion ban pitched by former Vice President Mike Pence.
"If they think that they, for a second, have any hope of banning abortion on a national basis, and passing a national abortion ban in Congress, I will be the first to sue,” said Tong.
In Connecticut, Wolfgang says they are focused on more modest goals.
"Where the real battle lines stands right now in Connecticut is over the issue of parental notification,” he said.
Gov. Ned Lamont opposes a parental notification bill; his Republican opponent, Bob Stefanowski, supports it.
Meantime, Planned Parenthood is already staffing-up for an influx of patients who can’t get abortions in states like Texas and Mississippi.
"Recently in one of our health centers, we saw a patient traveling from Texas who was pregnant from the result of a rape,” said Dr. Nancy Starwood, with Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.
Those patients have new protections. Anticipating Friday’s ruling, Connecticut passed a new shield law banning courts from assisting in out-of-state lawsuits and criminal cases. Patients' medical records will also be sealed.
The Reproductive Freedom Defense Act also expands who can provide first-trimester abortions. Planned Parenthood is currently training physician assistants and advanced nurses, but wait times for the procedure are already up to three weeks.
A new fund was recently set up to help patients receive reproductive care. The REACH Fund aims to raise $50,000.
Although Roe is already codified in state law, some want to go further and amend the state constitution, but so far, that effort has stalled.