Connecticut political campaigns clash over abortion

Three weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Connecticut Democrats are campaigning hard on abortion. But in a state where reproductive rights are firmly entrenched, Republicans say voters are more concerned about record inflation and slow economic growth.

Governor Ned Lamont hits the airwaves with an ad pledging to protect patients.

“It’s not a political choice; it’s your choice, Lamont says in the ad. “I’ve never backed down when it comes to choices, and I never will.”

Lamont’s Republican opponent Bob Stefanowski says abortion isn’t a problem in Connecticut. On this week’s Power and Politics, we asked Stefanowski about patients being sued, or even prosecuted, if they travel here for abortions.

“I’m worried about the people of Connecticut.” Stefanowski said. “Roe v. Wade is codified in Connecticut law. I’ve always, consistently said I’m not going to change that.”

Stefanowski declined to say if he would have signed a recent shield law protect patients and providers from out-of-state lawsuits.

Stefanowski’s new ad focuses on stagnant economic growth, including a Nov. 30 comment where Lamont said, “[My wife] Annie is in Nashville to set up businesses there, because Connecticut is quite complicated.

Lamont said the comment was “offhand” and that she was not building a business in Tennessee.

Abortion doesn’t just threaten the governor’s race. A Democratic candidate for state treasurer is also campaigning on it. In an announcement, Dita Bhargava of Greenwich said she would divest Connecticut of anti-choice companies.

“We will push the companies in which we invest to ensure employees have access to safe abortions,” Bhargava says in the announcement.

In the race for the US Senate, Senator Richard Blumenthal is also making abortion a key issue. He and Sen. Chris Murphy are pushing for a federal bill to protect patients who must travel for abortions. In a virtual press conference with attorneys on Friday, Blumenthal said Connecticut’s new shield law isn’t enough.

“Women need to return to their home country at some point,” Blumenthal said. “And there they face criminal charges.”

Abortion is also an issue for Blumenthal’s Republican rivals. The party-endorsed candidate, Themis Klarides, is pro-choice. His two opponents, Leora Levy of Greenwich and Peter Lumaj of Fairfield, are not. All three will face off in August. 9 primaries.

In the meantime, even some Connecticut doctors are nervous about legal action — or worse.

“[A federal protection law] would also allow me to continue practicing my work as a high-risk pregnancy physician without fear of civil lawsuits,” said Dr. Nicole Gavin, OBGYN with UConn. Health center.

The question is, in a state where abortion is legal and protected, is the problem enough to turn voters away from the economy?