The News-Times

Why CT would not be affected by Supreme Court abortion ruling

- By Peter Yankowski

The U.S. Supreme Court could soon decide to overturn its decision granting the right to an abortion at the federal level, or allow states to establish new limitation­s, after hearing arguments on a Mississipp­i law restrictin­g the procedure.

If that happens, however, Connecticu­t residents will likely see little impact from the decision. That’s because a state statute passed more than 30 years ago that guarantees the right to an abortion enshrined in the Roe v. Wade decision.

But a coalition of advocates for the right to choose an abortion say Connecticu­t still needs to do more to reduce the barriers to sexual and reproducti­ve health care.

“Abortion access is under attack in America like never before,” Gretchen Raffa, senior director of public policy, organizing, and advocacy for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, said in a statement this week. “While Roe must be protected, it has never been enough on its own to guarantee access for millions of people across the country. Although Connecticu­t has codified the right to abortion in state law, we know that residents still can’t access the abortion care they need.”

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in the Mississipp­i law, which prohibits abortion after 15 weeks. The law goes against the court’s precedent, which allows abortion up to fetal viability. The court is not expected to issue a ruling in the case for several months.

The text of the Connecticu­t law states “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.”

The Connecticu­t law passed in 1990, not long before the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the right to an abortion in a landmark 1992 case. That case, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, also added a new standard that states could not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.

State legislator­s who worked to pass the bill at the time said they intended to enshrine the rights guaranteed by Roe into Connecticu­t law. The move represente­d something of an historical about-face for the state, which had outlawed abortion for more than a 150 years prior to legalizing the procedure in the early 1970s.

The state also outlawed contracept­ion up until 1965, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the law in Griswold vs. Connecticu­t. The case revolved around directors of a Planned Parenthood center in New Haven who provided married couples with contracept­ives, violating the state law in the process. They were convicted in state court, a decision that was upheld in appellate and the state’s Supreme Court, before being overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That decision set a crucial precedent for the Supreme

Court in in Roe, establishi­ng the right to privacy implied — though not explicitly stated — in the Bill of Rights.

Advocates for the right to choose an abortion reacted this week to the Supreme Court hearing arguments in the Mississipp­i law, claiming that by allowing the law to stand would undo 50 years of precedent. The group, Connecticu­t Coalition for Choice, includes more than a dozen organizati­ons advocating for the right to an abortion. The group said the state also needs to do more to ensure access to health care to all people — including those who are undocument­ed.

“This fight is not only

about legality, it is about our dignity and humanity free from shame and stigma,” Liz Gustafson, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticu­t, said in a statement. “We envision a world where abortion isn’t just legal — but is truly accessible, affordable, and supported in our communitie­s.”

If the Supreme Court overrules Roe in its decision in the case, as many as 21 states could ban or limit access to abortion, according to reporting by NPR. In contrast to Connecticu­t, a dozen states have so-called “trigger laws” on the books that would immediatel­y ban abortion if Roe is struck down.

 ?? Daniel Slim/ Getty Images ?? The U.S. Supreme Court building as seen on July 11, in Washington, D.C.
Daniel Slim/ Getty Images The U.S. Supreme Court building as seen on July 11, in Washington, D.C.

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