April 30, 2022

Bucking National Trend, Connecticut Senate Votes To Protect and Expand Access to Abortions

Late Friday night, State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport) voted for House Bill 5414, “An Act Concerning Protections For Persons Receiving And Providing Reproductive Health Care Services In The State.” The bill will protect providers and patients seeking abortion care in Connecticut who may traveling from other states that have outlawed abortion. Additionally, the bill will permit more medical professionals to perform abortions in Connecticut. Previously passed by the House, this bill now heads to Governor Lamont’s desk to be signed into law.

“While Roe v. Wade was decided almost 50 years ago, the right to a safe and legal abortion is at jeopardy in America,” said Sen. Haskell. “As our country is poised to move backwards, Connecticut is taking a step forward. Tonight, we stepped up to protect the rights of those who come to our state in search of the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare. And we expanded access to abortions by allowing more medical professionals to perform this safe and critical procedure.”

House Bill 5414 creates a “clawback” private cause of action to protect Connecticut residents against lawsuits, as several other states have recently passed laws allowing individuals to sue individuals who provide, receive or assist in reproductive health care services. This bill allows someone sued under these conditions to countersue the persecutor for reimbursement, attorney’s fees, costs, and other expenses. The bill also provides that the Governor will not extradite a person alleged to have committed a crime in another state while present in Connecticut unless the alleged act would also be a crime if performed in Connecticut.

This portion of the bill is largely in response to laws passed in states including Oklahoma and Texas which empower citizens to sue a doctor performing an abortion in Connecticut, a person who donates to a non-profit in Connecticut that provides reproductive health care services, or a person that gives a ride to a friend to receive an abortion in Connecticut. As 26 states may ban abortions in the near future, HB 5414 is a protection from the overreach of other state legislatures.

HB 5414 also expands abortion access in Connecticut by expanding the type of practitioners eligible to perform certain abortion-related care. It allows advanced-practice registered nurses (APRNs), nurse-midwives, and certified physician assistants to perform medication and aspiration abortion care.

Reproductive freedom is at the core of women’s economic security and personal autonomy. The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund submitted testimony in support of this bill, citing research indicating that women who are denied access to abortion face economic hardship in the years following. The inability to decide if and when to have children also undermines women’s ability to succeed in education and restricts the ability to properly plan careers and lives. Women continue to shoulder the majority of caregiving responsibilities without the support they need to help meet the demands of school, work and family. Since educational attainment and earnings are linked, the decision of whether or not to have children affects lifetime economic stability and security.

In order to avoid lawsuits that punish abortion providers and recipients, the bill also:

  • Protects private health information related to reproductive health care services that are legal in CT from an in-state subpoena or other request for disclosure.
  • Protects private health information related to reproductive health care services that are legal in CT from an out-of-state subpoena or other request for disclosure.
  • Protects individuals and information located in CT from an out-of-state summons or subpoena seeking information or testimony regarding reproductive health care services that are
  • legal in CT, unless the alleged conduct forming the basis for the proceeding would also be punishable under CT law.