Only a few weeks into the new Biden-Harris administration and 48 years after the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, Connecticut stands at the precipice of change. The time is now for our state to take the lead and advance reproductive freedom for all. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that anti-choice extremists will stop at nothing to push their unpopular, ideologic agenda, even here in our own state.
Our work in Connecticut is not occurring in a vacuum. Rather, we are fighting to implement bold and creative solutions that will address a coordinated campaign by anti-choice extremists by regulating deceptive advertising practices of crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs).
It is clear that legality has never equaled access. Crisis pregnancy centers, also referred to as limited service pregnancy centers, continue to open doors across the country, advertising themselves as an option for those seeking pregnancy-related care. The caveat? At their core, they are fundamentally anti-abortion organizations, and it is well-documented that they intentionally mislead, shame, and blatantly lie to those seeking care, strategically concealing their true agenda and ideology. No one should face delays, shame, or stigma when seeking time-sensitive reproductive healthcare, but dishonest advertising by continues to pose as a barrier to those who need abortion care or emergency contraception.
Hartford passed and implemented a historic ordinance addressing these deceptive advertising practices at the city level, paving the way for our current fight to pass crucial statewide policy. The solution is clear and well supported; in 2019 H.B. 7070 passed the House but failed to receive a vote in the Senate. On March 9, 2020 lawmakers revisited legislation during a public hearing, but the session was brought to a halt soon after as we braced for the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
Although COVID-19 has impacted just about every component of our lives, people will always need access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare. Any delay in receiving care is a threat to public health, and in this moment the impact of disinformation and misdirection is even more detrimental to those who are interrupted in their search for abortion care. Anti-choice CPCs target people with lower incomes, people of color, and those with limited or no access to healthcare. These community members are hit hardest during this pandemic, and are left with fewer resources to access the care they seek, including limited funds or logistical resources like travel and childcare.
Whether state CPCs purport to provide healthcare or meet the needs of parenting individuals, at their core they are an extension of the anti-choice movement. No person or organization has the right to lie and use deceitful advertising in the marketplace. Just as we should trust individuals to make the best decisions for their lives, their futures, and their families, lawmakers should ensure Connecticut residents can trust the advertising they come across when seeking reproductive healthcare.
This legislation is about honesty, transparency, and the dignity of those who are seeking essential abortion care. It is about fostering safe and healthy communities free of unnecessary barriers. I urge readers to join this effort by contacting their representatives and asking them to support truth in advertising and equitable access to abortion care. Together with our cross-movement allies and legislative champions, we look forward to going beyond Roe.
Liz Gustafson is the State Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut.