Vote 2022: Connecticut political campaigns clash over abortion
Three weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Connecticut Democrats are campaigning heavily on abortion. But in a state where reproductive rights are firmly entrenched, Republicans say voters are more concerned about record-high inflation and slow economic growth.
Gov. Ned Lamont is blanketing the airwaves with an ad committing to protecting patients.
“This is not a political choice; it’s your choice,” Lamont says in the ad. "I've never backed down when it comes to choice, and I never will.”
Lamont’s Republican opponent, Bob Stefanowski, says abortion is a non-issue in Connecticut. On this week’s “Power and Politics,” we asked Stefanowski about patients being sued, or even prosecuted, if they travel here for abortions.
"I'm worried about the residents of Connecticut.” Stefanowski said. “Roe v. Wade is codified into Connecticut law. I've consistently, consistently, said I'm not going to change that."
Stefanowski declined to say whether he would have signed a recent shield law protecting patients and providers from out-of-state legal action.
Stefanowski’s new ad focuses on stagnant economic growth, including a Nov. 30 comment where Lamont said, “[My wife] Annie’s in Nashville setting up companies there, because Connecticut’s pretty complicated.”
Lamont has said it was an “off-hand” comment and that she is not setting up any businesses in Tennessee.
Abortion isn’t just looming over the governor’s race. One Democratic candidate for state treasurer is also campaigning on it. In an ad, Dita Bhargava of Greenwich said she would divest Connecticut of anti-choice corporations.
“We’ll push companies that we invest in to guarantee employees access to safe abortions,” Bhargava says in the ad.
In the race for U.S. Senate, Sen. Richard Blumenthal is also making abortion a key issue. He and Sen. Chris Murphy are pushing a federal bill to protect patients who have to travel for abortion. In a virtual news conference with advocates Friday, Blumenthal said Connecticut’s new shield law isn’t enough.
"Women have to return to their home states at some point,” said Blumenthal. “And there, they face criminal prosecution."
Abortion is also an issue for Blumenthal's Republican rivals. The party’s endorsed candidate, Themis Klarides, is pro-choice. Her two opponents, Leora Levy of Greenwich and Peter Lumaj of Fairfield, are not. All three will face off in an Aug. 9 primary.
Meantime, even some doctors in Connecticut are nervous about lawsuits -- or worse.
"[A federal protection law] would also allow me to continue to perform my job as a high-risk pregnancy physician without the fear of civil lawsuits,” said Dr. Nicole Gavin, an OBGYN with UConn Health Center.
The question is, in a state where abortion is legal and protected, is the issue enough to sway voters away from the economy?