Today, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts was supposed to be coming to Canton for a fundraiser for a gubernatorial candidate. To say Ricketts is one of the most extreme governors in the nation isn’t hyperbole. His presence makes us wonder why he would be a draw in Connecticut considering he doesn’t align with our values.
Governor Ricketts recently said in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash that he thinks the state of Nebraska should require young girls to carry their pregnancy to term—even if they were victims of rape or incest. This view is not only out of step with the people of Connecticut, it’s against what the majority of Americans think when discussing the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned. His goal is that once Roe falls, Nebraska will move to make abortion illegal as the ultimate end of the restrictive laws he already helped pass, without concern for people to control their own bodies, or even that restricting abortion increases maternal mortality rates.
Abortion isn’t the only disconnect he will encounter here. After the Sandy Hook massacre, the Connecticut legislature moved swiftly to improve gun safety laws. Repeatedly, and as recently as last week, Governor Ricketts has opposed any legislation that restricts guns in any way and hopes to end commonsense training for concealed carry handguns. Like many of his colleagues, he prefers to focus, as many do, on the mental health of the murderers, yet he doesn’t support red-flag laws which have been shown to prevent someone struggling with mental health issues from using a gun on themselves or someone else.
And there’s the rub.
Governor Ricketts’ position is that he is “pro-life” at all costs, even if the cost is borne by a child who was raped. But where is his concern for the thousands of people who have been shot and too often, killed, at schools, churches, temples, mosques, festivals, concerts, work, or any other location where hundreds of mass murders have occurred this year alone? The leading cause of death in children is now death by firearm as fatalities between those aged one to 19 increased 30% in 2020. Beyond his rhetoric about cherishing life, what do Governor Ricketts’ actions tell us about what he really values, and why would anyone in Connecticut seek his support and endorsement?
This year, because Connecticut values women and their autonomy over their own bodies and reproductive health, the Connecticut General Assembly expanded access to abortion care. In addition, because we value our healthcare providers, we ensured that regardless of what archaic and abusive laws other states pass, abortion providers in Connecticut will be protected from another state’s laws.
Over the last few years, Connecticut has also put the lives and safety of its citizens first by passing red-flag laws and safe storage laws, and by banning ghost guns (guns built at home with no serial number to trace them). States that fail to put basic protections like these in place see nearly three times as many gun deaths as states like ours. It’s no surprise that politicians passing abortion bans are refusing to take action on gun safety—they do not care about our bodies or our lives.
While the fundraiser was cancelled with no plans to reschedule, the rally to oppose the ideas he espouses will continue as planned. Our community stands resolute in our commitment to the ideas of autonomy, public safety and choice as part of the very fabric of our steady habits, and our steady values.
Eleni Kavros DeGraw is a State Representative for Avon and Canton. Paul Honig is running to be State Senator for Senate District 8.