New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

Connecticu­t’s far-sighted abortion law

- By state Rep. Christine Palm Christine Palm is the state representa­tive from the 36th General Assembly district covering Chester, Deep River, Essex and Haddam. She is the former communicat­ions director for the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.

Connecticu­t residents watching the dystopian nightmare unfolding in Texas can breathe a sigh of relief: Abortion will remain safe and legal here. Abortion — that keystone of reproducti­ve rights — was written into state law more than 30 years ago, and so the Supreme Court cannot negate it.

In 1990, when Roe v. Wade seemed untouchabl­e, the majority of the Connecticu­t General Assembly had the foresight to codify abortion into state statute — just in case Roe were ever imperiled. And now it is.

So, as we post Facebook memes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” with messages offering veiled “visits to your aunt in Connecticu­t,” we should pause to think about the power of state government. Across the nation, states are now vulnerable to losing the protection­s afforded by Roe, simply because their state government­s did not take the precaution our General Assembly took so long ago.

Significan­tly, Connecticu­t’s decision to put abortion into state statute was a bipartisan vote — taken long before the Republican Party took its sharp right-hand turn. Then, legislator­s on both sides of the aisle saw abortion for the personal choice it is. In so doing, they created a firewall between the rights of Connecticu­t people seeking abortion and what would, generation­s later, be a conservati­ve U.S. Supreme

Court determined to undo decades of sensible, life-saving legislatio­n.

Connecticu­t’s law actually takes Roe a step further: Women and all people seeking abortion services in our state are guaranteed safe and legal abortion regardless of their insurance coverage. We also rejected the restrictio­ns other states enacted, including parental notificati­on, mandatory ultrasound and waiting periods, to name but a few.

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 19a-602(a) says, “The decision to terminate a pregnancy prior to the viability of the fetus shall be solely that of the pregnant woman in consultati­on with her physician.”

And there you have it: the firewall.

It must be noted that in addition to the statute, Connecticu­t has several powerful, well-run and effective reproducti­ve rights organizati­ons, including NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticu­t and Planned Parenthood. These and other advocacy groups partnered with Connecticu­t legislator­s this past session to pass Public Act 21-17: An Act Concerning Deceptive Advertisin­g Practices of Limited Services Pregnancy Centers, which prevents so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” from dishonest practices that prey upon vulnerable people. It’s another example of the power of state legislatur­es to protect the rights of all citizens.

Not only is Connecticu­t a leader in women’s reproducti­ve rights, but it was also the birthplace of the movement. The landmark decision Griswold v. Connecticu­t, 381 U.S. 479

(1965), set the stage for Roe v. Wade by recognizin­g a married couple’s right to privacy. It overthrew the ancient “Comstock Law,” which outlawed the right to use birth control, and Griswold guaranteed “protect[ion] from government­al intrusion.”

Although dated now by its assumption that only married women would need (or deserve) such protection­s, how poignant do the words of thenJustic­e William O. Douglas sound to our ears in light of current events? Writing for the majority, Douglas said, “Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contracept­ives? The very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy surroundin­g the marriage relationsh­ip.”

Repulsive indeed. But now, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld what the Texas General Assembly has done and, in so doing, has given carte blanche to vigilantes, religious fanatics and self-appointed moral police.

What can we do from our safe perch up north?

Express your outrage, whatever your gender or gender expression. Realize that abortion is a personal choice that helps keep people out of poverty. Donate to legitimate pro-choice campaigns. Support women’s organizati­ons with your time, talent and resources. March on Oct. 2 to protest the Supreme Court decision.

And most importantl­y, vote for pro-choice candidates at every level of government. You never know when you may need them.

 ?? Tribune News Service ?? Abortion rights advocates protest abortion restrictio­ns being debated recently in the Texas House.
Tribune News Service Abortion rights advocates protest abortion restrictio­ns being debated recently in the Texas House.

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