NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) – Vice President Kamala Harris arrived at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks late Wednesday morning ahead of a roundtable discussion on women’s reproductive rights at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) in New Britain.

With the general election less than five weeks away, protecting safe and legal access to abortion remains a critical issue for Democrats in Connecticut.

The vice president was joined by U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes (CT-05), who is up for election in the 5th District, and Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn), who is taking on Republican Bob Stefanowski. Alexis McGill Johnson, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, also participated in the roundtable.

Polling is tight in the 5th District between Hayes and Republican State Sen. George Logan.

“She is the vice president of the United States and the first woman to hold this position, so her input is critical,” Hayes said.

“I am not in favor of a national ban on abortion,” Logan said. “I do believe it should be left up to the states, and here in Connecticut, we have codified a woman’s right to choose and state law.”

While the event was billed as a conversation on reproductive rights, a tight race for the 5th District made it difficult to keep politics out of the program.

About 200 people — only a handful of them students — packed a theater for the event.

Johnson asked Harris what a national ban on abortions would mean.

“These states that are doing this abhorrent thing, immoral thing, with no exception for rape, incest, would have to stop,” Harris said.

Logan, who has said he supports abortion rights, did not attend.

He said the event was “A key opportunity to really discuss the broader discussion on issues most important to the district, having to do with the economy, crime, safety, and education. Instead, they took the route of fear-mongering and grandstanding.”

Harris also discussed what she said is racial bias in the healthcare industry. She called for training and more funds for communities identified as health care deserts, pointing out that Black women are three times more likely to die during their pregnancies than their white counterparts.

“What the data proves is that it literally has nothing to do with her education level or socioeconomic level,” Harris said.” It has to do with the fact that when she walks into the hospital or emergency room, she is not taken seriously because she is a Black woman.”

Outside, protesters called the event a one-sided discussion.

A group chanted “U.S.A.” and held up signs with anti-abortion rights messages. One had a picture of a Connecticut license plate calling it the “abortion state.”

“This issue is larger than Kamala Harris, larger than Jahana Hayes, larger than Alexis Johnson, said Marcelina Hales, a sophomore at CCSU. “This is about the fundamental right to life.”

Some protesters said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was the best decision the court has ever made.

“It’s a modern-day genocide that people are silent about,” Rev. Ollie Gray III, of Waterbury, said.

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