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    Thursday, August 18, 2022

    Connecticut elected officials and candidates react to overturning of Roe v. Wade

    Martha Marx, a nurse and Democratic state Senate candidate for the 20th District, said she has been fighting for women's health care since she was 10 years old; her father was an obstetrician and gynecologist who shared stories at the dinner table of women who died trying to end a pregnancy. She shared this in a short video Friday, stepping away from the AFL-CIO convention at Foxwoods to share her reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

    "I'm stunned. I knew it was coming. I'm numb, I'm angry, I'm weary," said Marx, who lives in New London. She promised that if elected, "I will do everything I can to make sure that women's health care is protected."

    She was one of many political candidates and elected officials who flooded social media — and reporters' inboxes — with reactions to the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, which overturns a ruling that has stood for nearly 50 years, thus leaving decisions on regulating abortions to the states.

    Reactions ranged from decrying the decision as "shameful" and a "disaster," to stressing that the protections of Roe v. Wade have been codified in state law since 1990. Absent among statements from politicians of either party in southeastern Connecticut was a celebratory tone.

    "I am disappointed by today's decision and sympathize with the many women feeling anger and disbelief," Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, said in a Facebook post. "Congress needs to do its job and pass a law to safeguard access to a sensible and reliable standard of reproductive care — regardless of the state."

    Marx is seeking the seat being vacated by Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, who put out a joint statement with Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly emphasizing that the Supreme Court decision "does not and will not change the Connecticut laws that have embedded these protections in state law."

    Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski tweeted that the ruling "has absolutely no impact on Connecticut residents." He added that he will continue to support the state law, "with an appropriate ban on late-term abortion," and that he supports mandatory notification to parents of girls under age 16 seeking abortions.

    Gov. Ned Lamont in May signed a first-in-the-nation law protecting medical providers and out-of-state people seeking abortions in Connecticut. The governor said as long as he is governor, reproductive rights will be protected in the state.

    "Decisions on reproductive (health care) should only be made between a patient and their doctor without the interference of politicians," Lamont said in a statement. "This ruling will not only result in a patchwork of unequal laws among the states, but more importantly it will result in dangerous and life-threatening situations similar to what this country witnessed countless times in the era prior to the landmark Roe case."

    Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz called Friday a "dark and devastating day for women across this nation," calling the ruling "cruel and unconscionable because it targets poor women, indigenous women and women of color in particular."

    Bysiewicz said she and Lamont want women across the country to know that Connecticut "is a safe harbor" and will provide reproductive care to any woman who needs it.

    "The unthinkable has just happened," Attorney General William Tong said in a video, calling this a "destructive opinion that endangers the lives and health of millions of American women."

    Tong said this is not the end but rather just the beginning, and he "will fight everywhere, any court, any time, any place to defend a woman's right to choose here in Connecticut and defend women, patients, doctors, health care professionals." He said if a new Congress were to try to ban abortion nationally, he would be the first to sue.

    Congressional delegation reacts

    Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, called the decision "a stunning step backwards for the privacy rights of all Americans." He noted that this isn't just about reproductive choice, that according to the reasoning of the majority opinion and Justice Clarence Thomas's concurring opinion, privacy rulings in cases on contraceptives and gay marriage are at risk.

    Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard, who is running for Congress against Courtney, and Rep. Brian Lanoue, R-Griswold, stood behind Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the anti-abortion Family Institute of Connecticut, at a rally in Hartford on Friday.

    The Connecticut Mirror reported that France advocated for eventually repealing the abortion rights laws that now exist in Connecticut. The Hartford Courant reported that both France and Lanoue said they're hopeful a parental notification law would receive bipartisan support.

    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., in a tweet called the Supreme Court "a tiny group of politicians masquerading as justices, using their fancy robes and lifetime appointments as cover to impose their right wing political views on the entire country."

    Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the decision "strips women of the freedom to make their own (health care) decisions" and that every American should have the right to decide whether and when to have children.

    "The government should never be allowed to dictate decisions about pregnancy that should remain between a woman and her doctor," he said in a statement. "The government should not be able to impose a forced pregnancy on anyone — especially a pregnancy that is the result of abuse or rape or threatens their life."

    Themis Klarides of Madison, one of Blumenthal's Republican challengers, started her statement by saying she is pro-choice and worked in the legislature to protect access to safe, early-term abortion services.

    But she added, "Here in Connecticut where the right to a safe, legal, and hopefully rare abortion is safely enshrined into law, I urge focus on the issues that CAN change, such as making Connecticut a safer, more affordable place to raise a family and start a business."

    Leora Levy of Greenwich, who is up against Klarides and Peter Lumaj in the Republican primary on Aug. 9, said that the Supreme Court "has returned America to valuing, respecting & protecting life."

    What others said on social media

    [naviga:ul]

    [naviga:li]Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex: "Today is a sad day for women and women's rights in the United States. I believe strongly that these decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor and that the government should have a very limited role in this conversation."[/naviga:li]

    [naviga:li]Rep. Christine Conley, D-Groton: "In 2016, I stayed up and watched the national election results come in with one of my dearest friends. Early in the morning, I looked at her and said 'We lost the Court.' Today is exactly what I meant by those words. Connecticut laws are strong but pregnant people and families across the country just lost substantial rights."[/naviga:li]

    [naviga:li]Aundré Bumgardner, Groton Town Council member and Democratic candidate for 41st District state House seat: "My disappointment and anger grows thinking of all of the lives that will be impacted after today's decision. The Supreme Court's final decision to overrule Roe v. Wade is not only rolling back all of the work it took to get here today, but it also puts millions of lives throughout our country on the line. This is a health care crisis and should be viewed as such."[/naviga:li]

    [naviga:li]Nick Gauthier, Democratic candidate for 38th District state House seat: "The decision made by the Supreme Court today won't reduce abortions. What it will do is make them much more dangerous, especially to those who are poor and marginalized. #CodifyRoe"

    [/naviga:li][/naviga:ul]

    e.moser@theday.com

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