The Senate voted late Friday night to expand access to abortion services in Connecticut and shield doctors and patients from restrictive policies of other states ahead of action by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Senate voted 25-9. It wasn’t long party lines. Three Democratic Senators voted against it and five Republican Senators voted for the legislation.
“The reproductive rights afforded to residents of Connecticut may not be afforded to residents of other states,” Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, said. “This means that we need to think about what we will do when that time comes.”
The bill is designed to prevent states with laws prohibiting abortions from extraditing patients or doctors who travel to Connecticut for a procedure.
Renewed debate over abortion policy in Connecticut and elsewhere comes as the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court is widely expected to change or strike down Roe v. Wade, the decision that has made abortion legal since 1973.
“We have taken for granted that the healthcare we always knew was going to be protected, but those protections have eroded and here we are,” Sen. Saud Anwar, D-South Windsor, said.
He said Connecticut is joining 14 other states in expanding access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Physician assistants, APRN’s and nurse midwives will be allowed to perform these procedures under this legislation.
Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, said historically and legally Connecticut has been at the forefront of protecting reproductive rights.
“At first blush I would say I’m very parochial when it comes to Connecticut,” Kissel said. “I sort of feel protective of my constituents. “
“Hey Texas, Hey Idaho, what the heck are you doing?” Kissel said. “Leave our people alone.”
However, Kissel said he would vote against the proposal because “the language is slightly more pro-choice by expanding who can participate in this,” Kissel said.
Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, said she does not view this as an “abortion bill.”
She said the bill “protects our clinicians in the state of Connecticut who are performing a legal procedure in this state from being sued by another state where that procedure may not be legal.”
“I think we have a duty to protect our Connecticut clinicians,” Somers said. “It is somewhat outrageous that another state thinks it can come into our state and sue our clinicians who are performing a procedure that is legal and safe here in Connecticut.”
Sen. Patricia ‘Billie’ Miller, D-Stamford, said they can’t have the debate without talking about “eugenics” and the racist history of birth control in the United States.
“We were experimented on because society didn’t think we were equipped to take care of our children,” Miller said.
She said it was legal in 31 states to sterilize women before they could receive welfare.
“There’s no way that I can accept a system that would intentionally take a baby from a mother,” Miller said.
She said she appreciates that Connecticut wants to protect its residents, but she is having difficulty expanding which medical professionals can perform the abortion. She said it is an abortion bill.
“I will not stand here and support a system that was designed to take advantage of people who didn’t know any better,” Miller added.
The bill now goes to Gov. Ned Lamont, who has said he supports the legislation, and planned to “reaffirm his commitment to ensuring that Connecticut remains a state that protects reproductive rights.”