Christine Stuart photo

One day before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade the Connecticut Catholic Conference proposed several changes to the state’s abortion laws.

In its report titled “The State of Abortion in Connecticut 2000-2007” the Catholic Conference said it’s making the recommendations at this time because the number of abortions in the state increased by 12.6 percent over a seven year period, while the national rate of abortions have declined by 8 percent.

“The question should be raised as to why the increase in Connecticut,” Michael Culhane of the Catholic Conference said Wednesday at a Capitol press conference. “And although the specific answer to that question is very difficult to ascertain, it seems to be a more permissive attitude regarding abortion and contraceptives in Connecticut.”

David Reynolds of the Catholic Conference said there’s also been an increase in minors from the state of Massachusetts and Rhode Island coming to the state in an effort to bypass parental consent laws in those two states. He said this opens the door for sexual predators. Culhane explained that if Connecticut had a parental notification law, the male predator in these cases would be identified.

In an effort to reduce the number of abortions in the state, Culhane said the Catholic Conference is recommending that the state raise the age for mandatory counseling from 15 to 17 and require parental notification for anyone under the age of 17.

Susan Yolen, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Connecticut, said her organization is also concerned about the increase in abortions, but parental notification doesn’t reduce the number of abortions. “It just puts a roadblock in the way,” she said.

As for counseling, Yolen said there’s been a law on the books since the 1990s that requires young teens to receive counseling. She said young women of all ages are encouraged to talk to parents or family members about their choices.

Jillian Gilchrest, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, said state law already requires anyone under the age of 15 to receive counseling before receiving an abortion. She said her organization is focusing on comprehensive sex education as a way to prevent unintended pregnancies.

Sen. Ed Meyer, vice chairman of the Select Committee on Children, which screened some of the Catholic Conference’s proposals Wednesday, said the committee won’t be taking up the parental notification issue this year. But it remains to be seen if it will raise legislation that increases the age of mandatory counseling from 15 to 17 years old, he said.

He said at the moment the committee has not reached a final decision on the counseling proposal, which was raised by Rep. Jack Thompson, D-Manchester.

There were no lawmakers in attendance at the Catholic Conference’s press conference Wednesday afternoon.