Editor's Note: With 44 days left until the presidential election, PolicyMic's Audrey Farber will be posting a daily update on the state of abortion rights in the U.S., covering legislative challenges to Roe v. Wade in all 50 states. So far, we've gotten updates on Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire. Check back in every day to keep track!
Last week, in an op-ed in The Register Citizen, a small-town paper serving Lichtfield County, Connecticut resident Don Pesci wrote, "In Connecticut, we are not likely to see any serious epistemological debate on the nature of human life from birth to death. There are no Lincolns in the state among Connecticut’s congressional delegation — just fierce, even extremist, pro-abortionists. And on the opposite side of the barricades, the 'to be or not to be' question is pondered by Hamlet-like McClellans. There are no Grants or Shermans in the field."
In fact, Republican Linda McMahon, who is currently running for Senate against Democrat Chris Murphy, has recently been critiqued for her mixed record on abortion rights. Although she describes herself as pro-choice, the candidate has been criticized for not supporting reproductive health care initiatives, including mandatory birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Beyond the politics in local papers, what's happening with abortion rights in Connecticut?
The Tri-State Area
Reproductive rights and family planning issues have come up, but will be uncontentious and likely not decisive, in the 2012 Connecticut electoral races.
For the U.S. Senate race to replace Joe Lieberman, Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican Linda McMahon will argue their disagreements over Planned Parenthood funding and insurance coverage for abortion, but each claim to be pro-choice. That said, McMahon did lose the women’s vote 60-40 last time she ran for Senate and she did not call for Todd Akin’s resignation after his “legitimate rape” comment, despite many party leaders having done so.
For Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District, Republican candidate Andrew Roraback is a record-proven pro-choice politician who once said he found abortion “personally repugnant” yet hopes “the frequency of unintended pregnancies [can] be reduced through responsible family planning and ready access to contraception.” He faces Democrat Elizabeth Esty, a former Planned Parenthood volunteer who believes “the current standards regarding abortion remain appropriate.” Their views reflect Connecticut’s moderate-to-liberal attitude—self-assessed as the seventh-least conservative state (including D.C.) in the nation, according to a 2011 Gallup poll—as a whole.
In Connecticut, where Democrats currently outnumber Republicans by nearly two to one in both the State House and Senate, state law requires informing minors seeking abortions about their options, but does not mandate parental consent or involvement. Connecticut is one of seventeen states to provide public funding for abortion, and the state recently categorized abortion as an "essential health benefit" so “the procedure must be covered by the state's health exchange under the Affordable Care Act.” This will go into effect in 2014, but is roadblocked by the fact that the ACA prohibits using federal subsidies for abortion.
Well, at least they tried.