Connecticut legislators are reportedly moving to install a “right to abortion” in the state constitution in an apparent attempt to pre-empt pro-life regulations.
According to the Hartford Courant, a state legislative committee endorsed the bill on Friday but its language has yet to be drafted. Democratic state Senator Mae Flexer reportedly said she got the idea from Vermont, which is set to vote on a pro-abortion amendment to its constitution in November.
Vermont’s amendment specifies that “an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
According to the Guttmacher Institute, Connecticut currently prohibits abortion after viability unless the patient’s life or health is endangered (read more here about why deliberately killing a preborn child is not medically necessary). Along with its companion decision in Roe, Doe v. Bolton effectively legalized abortion up to birth for a variety of reasons. Justice Harry Blackmun’s opinion specified that “medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age–relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.”
Flexer worried that “[r]eproductive rights are under attack and disappearing across the country.” She added that while Connecticut has enacted pro-abortion measures, “we have seen in other states how quickly laws can change.”
Her comments echoed those of organizations like Planned Parenthood, which has been battling a tsunami of pro-life legislation at the state level. The Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has raised special concern that Roe v. Wade will be overturned, and therefore open the floodgates to a variety of new abortion restrictions.
Besides Connecticut and Vermont, New York also passed controversial legislation in 2018 as an attempt to “codify” Roe. A similar policy was pursued at the federal level where pro-abortion House legislators passed the Women’s Health Protection Act. This week, that legislation failed to pass the Senate.
Conservatives have voiced fierce opposition to these types of policies. Every Republican on the Connecticut state legislature’s committee reportedly rejected the measure. Senator Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, suggested a constitutional amendment would infringe on the legislature’s historically defined responsibilities.
According to the Courant, Christopher Healy of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference said the “extreme abortionist lobby realizes they are losing public support for their arguments that the taking of innocent life is acceptable and must be enshrined in a sacred document.”
Meanwhile, Liz Gustafson of Pro-Choice Connecticut argued it was “critical that we have the right to abortion, but as we’ve seen the legal right doesn’t guarantee our communities have real access to it.”
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