NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years. Friday’s ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.
The decision to allow abortion access now falls to individual states, 13 of which already had so-called trigger laws in place to ban abortion. Among those states poised to criminalize the act of providing abortion are: Kentucky, Louisiana, South Dakota, Idaho, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.
Exemptions vary by state and include cases in which pregnancy has resulted from rape or incest, whether there is a danger to the pregnant person’s life, and medical treatment that unintentionally leads to a terminated pregnancy.
Connecticut is among the 22 states and the District of Columbia that protect abortion access through state constitutions, legislation, or court decisions, according to a database from the Center for Reproductive Rights. Abortion would remain legal in these states barring new action to overturn previous actions.
Here is an overview of abortion legislation and the expected impact of the court’s decision in Connecticut.
Abortion rights have broad support in Connecticut among Democrats and Republicans. Democrats who control the Connecticut General Assembly support access to abortion, as does the state’s Democratic governor, Ned Lamont. The Republican nominee for governor, Bob Stefanowski, and his running mate, State Rep. Laura Delvin, also support the state’s abortion law.
Themis Klarides, an abortion supporter and the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, faces two anti-abortion opponents, Leora Levy and Peter Lumaj, in an August primary.
A poll conducted by News 8/The Hill/ Emerson College Polling in May found that 68% of Connecticut voters support at least some access to abortion.
Connecticut passed a law in 1990 giving women the legal right to abortion. Having passed with strong bipartisan support, it was lauded at the time for being a rare compromise between abortion rights advocates and opponents. It affirmed a woman’s unqualified right to an abortion “prior to viability of the fetus,” as well as later-term abortions “necessary to preserve the life and health of the pregnant woman.” It also repealed state laws predating Roe v. Wade that had made it a felony to have an abortion or to perform one and required that patients under 16 receive counseling about their options.
This year, Lamont signed legislation to protect medical providers and patients from out-of-state legal actions. The same law allows advanced practice registered nurses, nurse-midwives, or physician assistants to perform aspiration abortions in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy.
Elected Republicans in the state House and Senate are pro-abortion rights and support access to abortion.
Six members in the state House of Representatives voted in favor of the expansion of abortion rights in Connecticut this year. The bill passed the House on an 87-60 vote that blurred party lines. In the Senate, the bill passed with a vote of 25 to 9 — several Democrats joined six Republicans in opposition.
EFFECT OF RULING
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, has vowed to challenge any attempt to nullify the state’s abortion rights law.
“Make no mistake—this is just the beginning of a systematic right-wing effort to rewrite decades of bedrock legal precedent, the foundation of which is our long-recognized right to privacy in making our most personal decisions,” Tong wrote in a statement. “We are about to see a tsunami of radical litigation and legislation aimed at further eroding rights we have taken for granted—some for generations. Marriage equality, inter-racial marriage, and access to birth control are all in the crosshairs. We know already there are plans to push for a nationwide abortion ban should Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress. If that happens, I will be the first to sue.”
The state is already involved in major abortion cases across the country. And while Connecticut is surrounded by mostly pro-abortion states, it’s still bracing for out-of-state patients seeking abortions.
“I want to be abundantly clear that despite this decision, abortion remains legal in Connecticut and Rhode Island and is protected by state law,” said Amanda Skinner, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “We have already seen patients traveling thousands of miles from Texas to receive safe, legal abortion care. We have everything to believe that as abortion bans are passed that this will continue.”
Connecticut’s new law protecting abortion providers from other states’ bans takes effect on July 1. It creates a legal cause of action for providers and others sued in another state, enabling them to recover certain legal costs. It also limits the governor’s discretion to extradite someone accused of performing an abortion, as well as participation by Connecticut courts and agencies in those lawsuits.
There’s a discussion of possibly amending the state’s constitution to enshrine the right to abortion, making it more difficult to overturn, but that would be a multi-year process.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.