December 6, 2021/Press Releases

Connecticut’s Democratic Leaders Re-Affirm Support for Abortion Rights and Urge Vigilance

Call on Stefanowski, Klarides and all GOP candidates to stand up to the Trump Justices’ threat to abortion rights 

(Hartford, CT) – Last week we saw the most blatant attempt yet by the ultra-conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

Connecticut Republicans stood side-by-side with Donald Trump throughout his administration. They stood with Trump and Mitch McConnell as they hijacked the court. And now, those same justices have set their sights on overturning Roe. 

In 1990, Republicans and Democrats in Connecticut passed a law to codify abortion rights, putting into statute some of the strongest reproductive rights in the country. But today’s Republican Party has no room for moderates, and they’ve failed to stand up for women’s reproductive rights. Supporters of abortion rights have good reason to be concerned. 

By next summer, if the Supreme Court rules as expected and restricts rights or overturns Roe, the only protection for women’s reproductive rights in Connecticut could be our state law. With their silence on abortion rights and the looming court threat, Republicans are complicit. 

Connecticut voters must know where every candidate stands. Do they support abortion rights as set forth in Connecticut state statute? Would they support new restrictions? If so, what are they? 

Bob Stefanowski, Themis Klarides and all GOP candidates must end their silence. Anyone who wants to be Governor or wants to write Connecticut’s laws, must speak out now. Paying lip service to womens’ rights is not enough. True leadership means taking a stand, not taking a pass. 

“Abortion will remain safe and legal in Connecticut, regardless of a Supreme Court ruling. But it could be threatened by a far-right Republican legislature or governor. Connecticut voters, who overwhelmingly support abortion rights, need to know where every elected member and every candidate for statewide office stand on this issue,” Nancy DiNardo, Connecticut Democratic State Chair, said. 

“As you can see, many of our elected officials and candidates are very clear where they stand,” DiNardo added. “But some candidates, like Bob Stefanowski, who took a pass on commenting on Justice Kavanaugh’s nomination, have refused. Themis Klarides says she supports abortion rights, but will she back Connecticut’s statute? On such an important issue, we deserve to know where candidates stand before they are elected. If they can’t say, I think voters should assume the worst.”  

Senate President Martin Looney, who voted in favor of the 1990 legislation as a member of the state House, said concern about a shift in the U.S. Supreme Court is not new. 

“I was part of the bipartisan vote to incorporate Roe v. Wade’s protections into Connecticut state law in 1990. We were the first state in the country to take such an action because even then we were deeply concerned with the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court.” 

State Representatives Jillian Gilchrest, D-West Hartford and Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-Fairfield, said every candidate and lawmaker must speak up. 

Gilchrest said, “As the far-right leaning Supreme Court threatens to overturn Roe v. Wade, Connecticut is fortunate for the foresight of Democratic leaders and pro-choice advocates who codified a woman’s right to abortion into state law.  All Connecticut candidates for elected office should make their position on abortion rights clear. Now is a time to move forward, not backward.” 

McCarthy Vahey said not speaking up could result in erosion of years of progress.

“I know how fortunate we are to live in a state that believes women’s reproductive rights are basic human rights. We’re seeing today how quickly our rights can be revoked, and attempts to do just that have happened even here in Connecticut. Legislators and next year’s candidates must prioritize the protection of women’s reproductive rights and let the public know where they stand. We want women from around the country to know that Connecticut will continue to be a national leader, fighting tirelessly to keep women protected,” McCarthy Vahey said. 

“Reproductive rights are human rights,” Senator Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, said.. “For a half century, American women in particular have come to rely on this vital Constitutional right. Thankfully Connecticut law currently protects the right to an abortion regardless of what Republicans on the Supreme Court do. But states and state legislators may soon be on the front lines of protecting basic rights. Voters should know where their legislator – and any potential candidate is – on this vital issue.” 

Erosions of access to health care will hit women of color hardest, Senator Doug McCrory, D-Hartford, said. 

“If Roe v. Wade is overturned, its negative impact would be most felt by women of color and women from lower-income backgrounds, which would only worsen long-standing health inequities,” McCrory said. “A woman’s right to make decisions about her own body should not be undercut. Unfortunately, we are seeing another attempt to strike at the rights of women to make choices about their health and family planning.” 

Members of both chambers vowed to remain vigilant: 

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff: “In 2021 we should be done with the debates of nearly half a century ago. But this Republican party continues to destroy the progress we have made as a civilization. There should be no question that a woman’s health care is between her and her doctor. And there is no question that I will continue to keep those protections here in Connecticut no matter what the Republican Supreme Court does.”

“I am grateful that we live in a state that valued the Roe v. Wade decision enough to codify it into state law,” Senator Christine Cohen, D-Guilford, said. “That said, we cannot stand for any weakening of women’s reproductive rights here in Connecticut or elsewhere. It is important for us to be vigilant and recognize the dangers to any walk-backs or reversal of the 1973 Supreme Court decision.” 

Senator Gary Winfield, D-New Haven: “In Webster V. Reproductive Health Services in 1989 Justice Blackmun said, ‘I fear for the liberty and equality of the millions of women who have lived and come of age in the 16 years since Roe was decided.’ In current America women should not have to live with the fear that the very government they should be able to look to in order to protect their rights to an abortion, a settled question, is acting to eliminate that very right. My commitment is to standing with the women of Connecticut and America as we fight to preserve Roe at the federal level and throughout the states.” 

State Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire: “I have always been ,and will continue to be, committed to ensuring all Connecticut women have bodily autonomy and safe and affordable healthcare. This will remain my focus regardless of how far backward the Supreme Court sends women’s rights or whether they disseminate our constitutional right to choose.” 

Senator Derek Slap, D-West Hartford: “We must protect abortion rights and reproductive freedom in Connecticut. The erosion of these rights on a national level makes state-level leadership even more important. We can no longer take it for granted. I pledge to continue to be a strong pro-choice advocate and help Connecticut be a firewall against conservative, far-right, anti-choice forces in Washington and here in our state.”  

Senator Norm Needleman, D-Essex: “A woman’s right to choose what she does with her body is an inviolable right. No court, no state and no individual should be able to take it away. Unfortunately, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, this will set a terrible precedent and women all across the country will suffer as a result of it.” 

Senator Jorge Cabrera, D-Hamden: “The hard-fought right to choose for women must not be discarded. Too many have struggled, suffered and died for the protections guaranteed by Roe. Let us stand up together for women’s rights.” 

Senator Saud Anwar, D-South Windsor:  “It is heartbreaking to see how we are going back in time with respect to policies, positions and freedoms women have had for decades. Because of politics, women’s rights are being systematically taken away.”