‘Roe reversal’: Both sides of abortion debate reflect on 1-year anniversary

On Thursday, Connecticut leaders vowed to protect abortion rights – while emboldened opponents promised a new push for restrictions.

John Craven

Jun 23, 2023, 12:03 AM

Updated 297 days ago

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This weekend marks one year since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. On Thursday, Connecticut leaders vowed to protect abortion rights – while emboldened opponents promised a new push for restrictions.
Since last June’s Dobbs decision, nearly two dozen states have banned abortion or severely limited it. By contrast, Connecticut has taken aggressive steps to protect access.
“We are done taking this sitting down,” said Democratic state Attorney General William Tong at a Thursday roundtable. “We are going on offense.”
On Wednesday, Tong appointed two new special counsels for reproductive rights.
NEW LEGISLATION
State lawmakers passed several new abortion bills this year, including an expanded shield law protecting providers from licensing sanctions.
“Health care providers like my colleagues and I should not have to work under the distress of potentially being targeted for providing legal care in Connecticut,” said Dr. Nancy Stanwood, with Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.
Lawmakers also expanded reproductive care on college campuses, allowed vending machines to sell emergency contraception and permitted pharmacists to prescribe birth control without a doctor.
A new data privacy law will also shield personal health data on patients’ phones and apps.
“Their private data could be shared in a manner that they would be subject to legal or other consequences,” said state Rep. Matt Blumenthal (D-Stamford), co-chair of the General Assembly’s Reproductive Rights Caucus.
The right to abortion has been guaranteed in state law since 1990. Some lawmakers want to go a step further and amend the state constitution, but that effort has gained little traction over fears that voters could reject the idea.
“A CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION”
Anti-abortion groups are celebrating the anniversary. Although they’re outnumbered in Connecticut, abortion opponents said they are emboldened.
“The first anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade – of the Dobbs decision – is a cause of celebration for a lot of us,” said Peter Wolfgang, president of the Family Institute of Connecticut.
In March, Wolfgang led 2,500 people in a March for Life at the state Capitol. This year, opponents defeated a proposed $2 million “Safe Harbor Fund” to pay for out-of-state patients' abortions and travel. Critics questioned if enough patients are actually traveling to Connecticut and raised questions about the state’s liability for complications.
As in years past, Wolfgang said the group will push for a parental notification law in 2024.
“Connecticut is one of only a handful of states in the entire country that does not require a minor girl to even notify her parents if she's going to have an abortion,” he said.
ABORTION PILL BATTLE
The latest fight is over mifespristone, a popular pill used for medication abortions. Federal courts are currently deciding whether to revoke the drug’s Food and Drug Administration approval. Since mifespristone was first approved in 2000, more than 5 million women have taken the drug safely.
“There’s nothing to celebrate today,” Tong said. “It’s been a year since basic, fundamental civil rights – human rights – were taken away from women, patients, doctors, nurses across this country.”
Wolfgang said taking mifespristone off the market could be a major – if only temporary – victory.
“If the medication ruling comes down the pro-life way, we would expect a further drop of abortion in Connecticut,” he said.
“WE ARE THE MAJORITY”
Despite the Roe ruling and continuing legal challenges in other states, pro-choice groups said public opinion is on their side.
“We are the majority in our state and across this country, with support for abortion access at an all-time high,” said Gretchen Raffa, president of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.


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