Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz Credit: Christine Stuart photo

Reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade was swift in Connecticut even though the decision will not have an immediate impact on women seeking access to abortion in the state.

Abortion is codified in Connecticut, but a move to make it part of the state constitution fell short this year. However, the state did take steps to make sure abortion providers and patients are protected from the reach of other states. 

“Today’s Supreme Court decision drastically oversteps the constitutional right for Americans to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions without government interference,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “Decisions on reproductive healthcare should only be made between a patient and their doctor without the interference of politicians.”

The high court’s decision Friday overturns nearly 50 years of abortion protection in this country and is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

“This decision carves our nation in two – states that trust the personal and professional decisions of women and doctors, and states where craven politicians control and criminalize those choices. Connecticut is a safe state, but we will need to be vigilant, aggressive and proactive to defend our rights,” Attorney General William Tong said.

The 6-3 ruling by the court was written by Justice Samuel Alito.

“Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito’s opinion says.

Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said the decision will cause confusion and division in the country. 

“And will do so disproportionally for low-income women whose health care options are already limited. Democrats in the General Assembly anticipated this upending of legal precedent and enacted additional safeguards for reproductive health care in our state this year, including protection against litigation from residents of other states,” he said. 

“This decision is cruel and unconscionable because it will send doctors to jail for providing life-saving care and it will turn women into felons,” said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz. “It’s cruel and unconscionable because it targets poor women, indigenous women and women of color.”

She said it just means that many women won’t have access to safe abortions.

Abortion in Connecticut has been codified for decades, but advocates and lawmakers like Looney worry about what rights will follow. 

“We are about to see a tsunami of radical litigation and legislation aimed at further eroding rights we have taken for granted – some for generations. Marriage equality, inter-racial marriage, and access to birth control are all in the crosshairs,” Tong said. “We know already there are plans to push for a nationwide abortion ban should Republicans gain control of both houses of Congress. If that happens, I will be the first to sue.”

Abortion rights advocates in Connecticut view the decision as a wake-up call to do more to expand reproductive health care access, but the Connecticut Catholic Conference Office of Public Affairs welcomed the historic reversal. 

The group pledged to support pregnant women who face serious challenges.

“The Dobbs decision presents all of us with new and persistent challenges and opportunities. Future debates over abortion must be peaceful and respectful. There are people deeply divided by their beliefs on both sides of this issue. Acts of violence and other hateful actions will only make it more difficult for constructive discourse. It is time for reconciliation as we support a culture of life together,” Chris Healy,  executive director of the Catholic Public Affairs Conference, said in a statement. 

Anti-abortion rights groups recently held a press conference at the state Capitol to warn about the potential for violence against pregnancy crisis centers.

But women’s rights organizations and abortion rights advocates feel that’s a far-fetched idea. 

“While I’m grateful to live in a state like Connecticut that guarantees access to safe and legal abortions, individual states can’t overcome the extremist, anti-democrat sentiment oozing out of far-right courts, legislatures, and the media that guides them,” state Comptroller Natalie Braswell said. “President Biden and Congress must act urgently to pass national protections for abortion access, and start undoing the rot at the core of American democracy.”

Ten months ago the U.S. House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, which establishes the federal statutory right for health care providers to offer abortion care and the federal right for patients to receive that care, free from state restrictions.  

“The Senate knows the urgency to protect this right, and the filibuster is once again standing in the way. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say you need 60 votes to pass a law,” U.S. Rep. John B. Larson said. 

“I am proud Connecticut has already taken action to protect the right to safe and legal abortion, but the Senate must act at a federal level to ensure every American in every state can access the reproductive care they need.”

Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Windham, said the implications impact health decisions for women beyond abortion. She said there are women in other states who are having a miscarriage who might not be able to access services because the procedure for removing the any material that doesn’t come out naturally is an abortion.

“It’s difficult to put into words how devastating this decision is now that it’s finally here,” Flexer said.

Aside from abortion remaining legal in Connecticut prior to viability of the fetus as well as in later-term abortions that are deemed medically necessary to preserve the life and health of the pregnant woman, Politico reports that abortion is still legal to various degrees in 28 other states. Those include Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

Politico and other sources report that abortion is legal “for now” with the possibility of change coming in six states, including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina.

Further, abortion is “potentially illegal” or “soon to be illegal” in 11 states, according to Politico, including Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Abortion is already illegal in five states: Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.