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Abortion Issue Raised In Conn. After Years Of Scant Debate

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Office of Rep. Mae Flexer
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Connecticut State Rep. Liz Linehan, D-3, speaks at a news conference announcing forthcoming legislation to protect women's healthcare, including abortion services, in Connecticut. State Senator Mae Flexer is to Linehan's right.

In Connecticut a group of mostly Democratic lawmakers announced on Monday that they are introducing legislation to push back against anti-abortion proposals. This marks the revival of an issue that has had little or no debate in Connecticut for many years.

The revival of the debate appears to be the result of more conservative Republicans winning seats in Connecticut’s General Assembly in last November’s election in which Donald Trump won the presidency. Some of those conservative Republicans are making proposals that include a parental notification bill and another that would require an ultrasound procedure before a woman can terminate a pregnancy.

Democratic State Senator Mae Flexer of Killingly leads the opposition made up of a large group of mostly Democratic lawmakers.

“Those bills are being introduced and we’re here today to stand up and say that’s not the direction Connecticut is going to move in with our long history of protecting women’s healthcare.”

Flexer says that’s why they are introducing five bills aimed at ensuring that Connecticut remains at the forefront in protecting a woman’s right to choose her own health care.

“We’re going to preserve the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act that require no cost sharing for women’s preventative healthcare services, improved access to contraception.”

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, a Norwalk Democrat, pledged that no bills limiting abortion rights will make it to a vote.

“We will not allow any anti-choice, anti-women bills to be voted on and passed in the state Senate.”

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is commending the state lawmakers for taking a lead on the issue.

“Connecticut has a unique opportunity to begin the fight here in a positive way and a bipartisan way, and as we always have in Connecticut on this issue.”

He cites the Griswold v. Connecticut 1965 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a woman’s right to contraceptives and privacy in reproductive care.

A spokesman for the anti-abortion group Connecticut Right to Life says the Democratic bills might have a chilling effect on the free speech rights of people who are trying to discourage abortions.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.