Connecticut lawmakers act to protect abortion rights in face of GOP bans in other states

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A Connecticut bill that would protect abortion access comes as GOP-dominated states enact new restrictions in anticipation of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

The Connecticut House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill this week that could transform the state into a sanctuary for legal abortion and effectively combat laws banning abortion in other states.  

As a growing number of conservative-led state legislatures across the country introduce and pass anti-abortion laws, Connecticut lawmakers moved to protect women's reproductive rights. If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade decision this summer, 26 states are likely to ban abortion, according to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute.

"Expanding access and protecting reproductive rights in Connecticut has never been more important," Democratic state Rep. Christine Palm said in a statement on April 20. "I was proud to be a co-sponsor of HB 5414, which will protect Connecticut residents, including abortion providers, from the vigilantism being encouraged by such bills as Texas' S.B. 8 and Missouri's H.B. 2810 (which even criminalizes a woman experiencing a dangerous ectopic pregnancy)." 

House Bill 5415 would protect abortion providers in Connecticut from liability under the laws of states that restrict or ban abortions, as well as patients who travel to Connecticut to have an abortion and those who help them. It would also allow people who are charged with violating abortion laws in other states over medical care received in Connecticut to sue for damages in Connecticut courts.

Under the bill, the state of Connecticut would also be able to protect the medical records of women who travel from other states. It would allow advanced-practice registered nurses, nurse-midwives, and physician assistants to perform first-trimester aspiration and medication abortions. The procedure is currently limited to physicians.

Co-sponsored by 43 House members, the abortion rights legislation was passed with a 87-60 vote, with four people absent or not voting. Seven Republicans voted in favor of the bill while 14 Democrats voted against it.

Some abortion rights advocates consider the bill to be one of the most consequential abortion-related proposals to come up for a vote in the General Assembly since 1990. It has now advanced to the Democratic-controlled Senate. Gov. Ned Lamont has pledged to sign the bill if it passes the Senate.

"The culture wars are lapping up across our shores here in Connecticut, and we're standing together," Lamont said Tuesday. "We're making sure that when it comes to our women, when it comes to our choice, when it comes to these cultural wars, we stand on behalf of the women in the state of Connecticut, and that's not gonna change."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.