This story is part of CT Mirror Explains, an ongoing effort to distill our wide-ranging reporting into a "what you need to know" format and provide practical information to our readers.
Original reporting by Mark Pazniokas and Jenna Carlesso. Compiled by Gabby DeBenedictis.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June and returned abortion rights to the states, abortion has emerged as a campaign issue in Connecticut’s elections.
But what about in a state like Connecticut, where abortion remains legal and both the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor say they are “pro-choice?”
The issue has been hotly contested here, as Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s campaign has worked to draw contrasts with his Republican challenger, Bob Stefanowski.
So, what is the state of abortion access in Connecticut? What have the candidates for governor said about abortion laws in the state? Here’s what you need to know.
Is abortion legal in Connecticut?
Yes. A Connecticut law passed in 1990 affirms a woman’s right to an abortion, codifying in statute the standard set by Roe in 1973: Abortions are legal prior to fetal viability, generally considered to be around 23 weeks.
Isn’t Connecticut a ‘safe harbor’ state now too? What does that mean?
This spring, state lawmakers passed legislation to strengthen the state’s existing abortion laws. The new law designates Connecticut as a legal “safe harbor” for women who get abortions here but come from places with restrictive laws. It also protects the clinicians who perform them.
In addition, the measure expands who can perform first-trimester abortions. Advanced-practice clinicians such as APRNs and physician assistants are now allowed to perform abortions by suction, also known as vacuum aspiration. The change places in state law what was allowed under a legal opinion from the attorney general.
Where do the candidates for governor stand on keeping abortion legal in Connecticut?
Lamont, Stefanowski and Independent Party candidate Rob Hotaling all say they support maintaining the Roe standard in Connecticut.
Where do the candidates stand on Connecticut’s safe harbor law?
Lamont urged the Connecticut General Assembly to pass the safe harbor law, and Stefanowski has said “I would leave it where it is. I don’t think we should reverse it.” His running mate, Rep. Laura Devlin of Fairfield, was one of only seven House Republicans to vote for the legislation.
Hotaling supports the law and says he has “every intention” of maintaining it if he were to be elected.
Where do the candidates stand on parental notification?
Stefanowski favors requiring minors under age 16 to notify their parents before they terminate a pregnancy except in the case of rape or incest but clarified that “this is not consent, this is just notification.”
Lamont opposes requiring parental notification, saying he is persuaded that there are cases of abuse where parental notification is not realistic and believes the vast majority of young abortion seekers already tell their parents.
How has abortion emerged as an issue during the campaign?
Within days of the Supreme Court ruling, Lamont was on the air with a television ad underlining his unqualified support for abortion rights.
Stefanowski initially minimized the issue, characterizing reproductive rights as settled law in Connecticut. He has since aired multiple television ads that state he is a pro-choice candidate.
In the first televised debate, Stefanowski and Lamont clashed fiercely, if briefly, on abortion.
Lamont noted that Stefanowski had financially supported Leora Levy, an anti-abortion candidate, over Themis Klarides in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Klarides is a social moderate who favors abortion rights.
Stefanowski pushed back on the assertion that his support of Levy was for her stance on abortion and said Lamont is trying to scare and mislead women about what a Stefanowski administration would mean for reproductive rights.