Connecticut's Jahana Hayes stands with California Sen. Kamala Harris in this September, 2018 photo. Jahana Hayes Twitter

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Connecticut on Wednesday to speak about abortion rights alongside Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, who is locked in a competitive fight for reelection in a race that has drawn national attention and millions of dollars in outside spending.

Harris will attend a roundtable event at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain — which is in the 5th District — to discuss access and threats to abortion with Hayes and Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The visit comes as Republican-led states around the country are seeking to restrict abortion access in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protected it as a constitutional right for nearly five decades. Abortion remains legal in Connecticut, which has a “safe harbor” law permitting women to travel here for an abortion.

The discussion is an official congressional event but comes about a month out from the midterm elections when Hayes, who is the first Black woman elected to Congress in Connecticut, is running for a third term. Hayes said she is looking forward to discussing not just abortion rights, but also addressing contraceptive care and maternal mortality with Harris and local officials.

“I think the information is important and outside of an election year, it’s still important. We’ve done a lot on maternal mortality and now with the issue of women’s rights front and center, outside of the campaign, I work on that every day in Congress,” Hayes said in a Wednesday interview with CT Mirror. 

“I support a woman’s right to choose – full stop. It’s between a woman and her doctor and not any elected official,” added Hayes, who voted over the summer with House Democrats on codifying abortion protections into federal law. The legislation has stalled in a divided 50-50 Senate narrowly controlled by Democrats.

Abortion rights are a significant issue nationally in the November elections, as well as in the 5th District race between Hayes and her Republican opponent, former state Sen. George Logan. Control of both the House and Senate are up for grabs on Nov. 8.

Their campaigns have gotten a groundswell of attention over the past few months as super PACs for both parties pour more money into the race. New Britain itself has drawn a lot of recent national activity between Harris’ upcoming visit and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel’s recent trip. The RNC opened a Black and Hispanic Community Center in the city back in March.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, which was founded in 2011 to help House Republicans win the majority, announced Monday it is doubling down on the race and reserving another $600,000 in ads. That is on top of the nearly $2 million that the group has already spent on ads to boost Logan.

Democrats have sought to challenge Logan on the issue of abortion rights. Campaign committees and super PACS aligned with Democrats have also put millions of dollars into supporting Hayes.

A Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad from last month argued that abortion rights are “on the line” after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The ad’s narrator seeks to link Logan to national Republicans who are considering voting on a national abortion ban if the party takes back control of the House.

Logan has said he supports a woman’s right to choose but with limitations. He noted that abortion remains legal in Connecticut despite the end of Roe v. Wade because the state codified those protections into state law. Logan said he would not support a national abortion ban after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced a 15-week ban last month. Instead, Logan said he wants the decision to be left up to the states.

Logan has called the DCCC ad a “blatant lie” and his campaign has sent a cease and desist letter for TV stations to stop airing it.

“Kamala Harris is the perfect messenger to remind Connecticut voters that they’re paying higher prices for nearly everything because Jahana Hayes is a rubber stamp for the Biden Administration’s failed agenda,” said Samantha Bullock, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is working to help Logan unseat Hayes.

The Connecticut Mirror/Connecticut Public Radio federal policy reporter position is made possible, in part, by funding from the Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation and Engage CT.

Lisa Hagen is CT Mirror and CT Public's shared Federal Policy Reporter. Based in Washington, D.C., she focuses on the impact of federal policy in Connecticut and covers the state’s congressional delegation. Lisa previously covered national politics and campaigns for U.S. News & World Report, The Hill and National Journal’s Hotline. She is a New Jersey native and graduate of Boston University.