HARTFORD, CT — Pro-choice organizers, protesters, and legislators met on the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday not only to condemn the passage of strict abortion laws in states like Alabama and Missouri, but to celebrate Connecticut’s commitment to a woman’s right to choose.
“I stand here today proud to live in the state of Connecticut,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides said. “Proud because in 1990 Connecticut codified Roe v. Wade in our state constitution. Today we stand strong with people throughout the country whose voice is being threatened.”
The protest, which was led by Gretchen Raffa, director of Public Policy, Advocacy & Strategic Engagement at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, was one of many events taking place across the country to stop abortion bans.
“This is a terrifying time for women in our country,” Raffa said. “We have seen rash and extreme abortion bans sweeping the country all with one goal in mind — to bring a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.”
This National Day of Action comes just a week after Alabama signed the country’s most restrictive abortion ban into law in hopes of challenging Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court. Other states such as Missouri and Georgia have followed in Alabama’s footsteps.
Speakers that included Gov. Ned Lamont, Attorney General William Tong, and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz shunned these restrictive laws but seized the opportunity to highlight Connecticut’s stance on the issue.
“We respect women’s reproductive healthcare and their ability to make decisions about their bodies,” Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz said before a crowd of cheering protesters.
Bysiewicz extended an invite to women business-owners in Alabama and Missouri to come to Connecticut because of the state’s commitment to women’s right to choose as well as its economy.
“We are fourth in the country in terms of helping entrepreneurs that are women,” Bysiewicz said. “We have access to the largest markets in the country. We have amazing trained and educated people ready to help businesses from outside our state, so we welcome you to our beautiful state of Connecticut and we stand with those fighting against this insidious and dangerous move to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
Bysiewicz’s invitation reaffirmed a letter she and Lamont sent Monday to business owners in Alabama, Missouri, and Georgia detailing the economic benefits of relocating their businesses to a women-friendly state like Connecticut.
The letter paints Connecticut as a champion of reproductive rights.
“We are equally as proud of our commitment to the causes of women,” the letter stated. “The recently created Governor’s Council on Women and Girls, for example, clearly illustrates the ways in which we prioritize the potential of ALL members of our society.”
Lamont also addressed the crowd and started his remarks by reading aloud some of the phrases written on the signs dotting the crowd of protesters gathered around the steps of the capitol.
“I love these signs. ‘Connecticut, don’t even think about it,’” he read from a bold cardboard sign. He then retorted, “America, don’t even think about it.”
Lamont called for Connecticut to be a unified front against injustices playing out across the country.
“It’s one Connecticut,” Lamont said. “We’re going to make sure it’s one across the country.”
He also addressed the letter written to women CEOs.
“Look, they’re living in a state where they’re not respecting your rights,” Lamont said. “They’re not respecting women. Come on up to Connecticut. We’re going to fight this war on multiple different fronts. This is where you want to be. A state that loves and protects women and our rights.”
Maddison Martin, a nursing student at Central Connecticut State University, said she attended the protest because she is really passionate about stopping the spread of medical misinformation about abortion. She agrees with legislators that Connecticut is a safe place for women who feel deprived of their rights.
“I think if people need access to health care, any reproductive healthcare, they should definitely come to Connecticut,” Martin said.
Tong encouraged the crowd to link arms to demonstrate how Connecticut citizens serve as a “firewall” against unjust laws that ban abortion.
“If you want to ban abortion, if you want to dismantle a system of healthcare for American women that has existed for decades, you are going to have to come through all of us,” Tong said to the screaming crowd of protesters standing arm-in-arm. “And we are not afraid of you.”