HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut House passed a bill Tuesday night that would allow a so-called “safe harbor,” protecting medical professionals in Connecticut who perform abortions from being sued by states that ban abortions. It now goes to the Senate.
Abortion advocates worry the nation’s highest court will overturn the nearly 50-year-old precedent enshrined in Roe v. Wade. That is causing state lawmakers around the country to act.
Connecticut’s abortion law would not be threatened if the Supreme Court overturns Roe.
Lawmakers are trying to bar other states from getting information and medical records to sue doctors and patients.
State Rep. Jason Rojas, the Democratic House Majority Leader, recalls this topic has not come up in a decade.
“I’ve been here 14 years. We’ve never really had to debate a choice bill. But given the climate that we now exist in, where we have states moving in the direction that we are, it’s bringing it back onto our legislative agenda,” Rojas said.
In Connecticut, abortions are allowed up to viability, which is not defined and is up to the medical provider.
A minor does not need consent from a parent but is mandated to get counseling.
At issue; protecting medical professionals and patients who decide to terminate a pregnancy in Connecticut.
Some states want to sue or prosecute doctors for performing abortions.
State Rep. Matt Blumenthal, the Democratic vice-chair of the Judiciary Committee, said states like Texas have laws that deputize vigilantes.
“Other states are passing laws that are extremely punitive, both in the civil and criminal context, and trying to apply them beyond their borders, in some cases expressly doing so, targeting clinics outside of their state,” Blumenthal said.
The legal language on extraditions required by federal law and the Constitution is a concern.
State Rep. Vincent Candelora, the Republican House Minority Leader, said there are valid legal issues.
“We’ve got to make sure whatever is drafted is narrowly drafted to address the issue of Connecticut doctors becoming liable from legally practicing in the state of Connecticut. They should not be subject to liability in another state. But on the same time, we need to respect what other states do.”
There is also language to expand access and modernize Connecticut law regarding who can perform an abortion.
“By allowing APRNs, certified PAs, and certified nurse-midwives to provide certain abortion care up to 13 weeks, so long as they are licensed and trained,” Blumenthal said.
Amanda Skinner from Planned Parenthood of Southern New England said they expect an influx of out-of-state patients.
“This is one way that we can ensure that there is a sufficient pool of clinicians available to provide these services,” Skinner said.
Pro-life supporters marched for the first time in Connecticut this year. Many say adoption is a better way.
14 states like Vermont already allow nurse-midwives to perform a specific type of abortion.
Rep. Jillian Gilchrest of West Hartford and a proponent of the bill say a clinic in Hartford has already had patients from Texas.
In the meantime, a bill amending the state constitution to allow for reproductive rights to be enshrined in the document appears to be off the table.