In driving to and from Hartford every day, I tend to get consumed by Connecticut politics. I spend the drive making calls to fellow legislators, discussing local issues with constituents and, on the late nights, doing my best to stay awake. Last week, I decided to tune into NPR. Suddenly, it felt like I was transported into a bygone era.
In Alabama, a handful of legislators trampled the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling and decided that nearly all abortions will be banned starting Jan. 1, 2020, even in cases of rape or incest. Alabama, sadly, is not alone in rolling back these fundamental rights. In Ohio, legislators suggested they could re-implant an ectopic pregnancy–a painful, life-threatening medical situation where a fertilized egg implants outside a woman’s uterus–using a medical process that doctors actually advise against.
Thankfully, I work in a building where we see things differently. While Georgia, Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri and Alabama are moving backwards, we’re pushing forwards. As I pulled into the Capitol complex, my mind turned to pending legislation that not only defends a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, but actually helps to strengthen reproductive health and freedom.
On May 16, the House passed a bill that would place tougher restrictions on “crisis pregnancy centers.” Some of these locations use deceptive advertising when offering counseling to pregnant women. We’ve seen clinics in Connecticut draw women into appointments under false pretenses and dissuade them from having abortions. This legislation would prevent them from making false or misleading statements, which restrict the spectrum of reproductive choices that women out to be able to access in a free and healthy society. This isn’t just about protecting women’s rights–it’s about promoting public health and making sure that everyone can make an informed decision about their own body.
Last month in the Senate, we voted to advance legislation that allows for increased privacy in healthcare decisions. Currently, when a domestic violence survivor receives care, their information is shared with their health insurance policy holder–who could be their abuser. By closing a loophole, we prevent perpetrators from reacting, or retaliating, against their victims. One in four women and one in seven men experience severe physical violence from an intimate partner at some point in their lives. Those who seek healthcare deserve to do so with privacy. I was proud to support this bill to advance the health and wellness of Connecticut citizens.
Lately, it feels like we’re operating in two separate worlds. In Alabama, Roe v. Wade isn’t considered a constitutional cornerstone but instead a target in the crosshairs. In Connecticut? We support a woman’s right to choose and we will fight to protect it. Moreover, we’ll fight to advance the health and privacy of all women in our state. In the remaining days of the legislative session, we’ll keep going–and we invite anyone and everyone who may lose their rights to come here. We’re ready to fight for yours too.
Will Haskell is Wilton’s State Senator.