Updated May 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Connecticut enacts law making state safe haven for abortion providers

Picture of hands holding signs in front of the Supreme Court, one says "Dismantle Roe" and the other "Keep abortion legal"
Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) on Thursday signed into law a bill to protect abortion providers and patients from bans in other states.

Driving the news: The unique legislation will shield providers from bans that are enforced via civil lawsuits and is a direct response to laws in Texas, Idaho and Oklahoma that ban most abortions and allow private parties to sue anyone who they suspect has helped a person obtain an abortion.

  • While the Texas and Oklahoma six-week bans remain in effect, the Idaho one was temporarily blocked by a federal court in early April.
  • The new legislation protects people in Connecticut who have never stepped foot in Texas or Oklahoma from being charged under the their laws. It does not protect people who are fleeing those states and seeking an abortion.

What we’re watching: It could "serve as a blueprint for states across the country seeking to protect the right to choose" as red states continue to pass restrictive laws, according to Connecticut state Rep. Matt Blumenthal (D), one of the bill's authors.

  • The Supreme Court might overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a leaked draft opinion reported by Politico.

Details: H.B. 5414, titled the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act, prohibits state courts from enforcing a different state’s penalties against someone who has provided an abortion that is considered legal in Connecticut.

  • Any person who is sued for providing an abortion or aiding or abetting someone who gets the procedure can countersue to collect damages and attorney's fees.
  • The bill prohibits public agencies from providing information that would help “any interstate investigation or proceeding seeking to impose civil or criminal liability upon a person or entity” for providing an abortion.
  • The bill will take effect in July.

Worth noting: The bill also changes any state statute language that says “pregnant woman” to “patient.”

What he's saying: "This is a bill I wanted to sign as soon as possible," Lamont said.

  • "I think you've heard a lot about what's coming out of the Supreme Court and a preliminary ruling that looks like they may be on the edge of ending a woman's right to choose."
  • "That's not going to happen in the state of Connecticut, not as long as I'm here. No politicians are going to get between you and your doctor. You make the choice," he added.

Don’t forget: Connecticut has a law in place that protects abortion rights even in the absence of Roe.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Gov. Ned Lamont signed the legislation into law.

This story has been corrected to note that the new Connecticut law does not protect a person who flees Texas seeking abortion. It protects people in Connecticut who have never set foot in Texas from being charged under the Texas law.

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