Comptroller Sean Scanlon, Attorney General William Tong and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz denounced a Texas judge's ruling on the abortion pill mifepristone. Mark Pazniokas / CT Mirror

With one eye on the 2024 presidential election and perhaps another on the gubernatorial contest that lies beyond, statewide Democratic officials were quick to denounce a federal judge in Texas who had invalidated the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of an abortion pill, mifepristone.

The judge’s ruling has no immediate impact on the availability of the medication in Connecticut, where the majority of abortions are performed by medication, not surgical procedures. But the politics were noteworthy as Democrats spoke out and Republicans largely remained silent, here and nationally.

(The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday acted to keep the current FDA rules in place by issuing an administrative stay while the case makes it way through the courts.)

Gov. Ned Lamont, who is not expected to seek a third term in 2026, held a press conference last Monday with three fellow Democrats who are potential rivals to succeed him: Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Attorney General William Tong and Comptroller Sean Scanlon.

They were unified in portraying the Texas decision as an element of a continuing Republican campaign to greatly curtail or eliminate abortion in the U.S., an issue that Democrats see as mobilizing their base next year as they believe it did in the 2022 midterms.

The reaction reinforces a dynamic evident since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade and then overturned the landmark ruling last year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization: Losing in court often provides a political advantage in organizing. 

“I think it’s a big deal,” Lamont said. “I mean, you’re upsetting, in this case, 23 years of a drug that’s been very effective at providing women reproductive choices they need. Dobbs goes back 50 years. I think a lot of people worry what’s next for a judge. You know, maybe they don’t like contraception. Where are they going to stop? Maybe they don’t like vaccines? How often are they going to start overruling the FDA?”

It is the same question that Bysiewicz, Tong and Scanlon raised last week and undoubtedly will repeat in the months and years to come.

“We are, again, in a fight that nobody wanted, a fight that is not just unwanted, but it’s utterly unnecessary and unconscionable and born of now what has become a relentless war on American women and patients,” said Tong, who was elected to a second term as attorney general last year.

Scanlon, who manages the state’s largest heath benefits system as comptroller, said the decision was another reminder to women that reproductive rights remain under assault.

“When will this end? When will we stop with this?” Scanlon said. “And sadly, the answer in this country is it’s not going to stop. Because there is a set of people from a fringe element of the conservative movement that are waging a culture war on anyone who doesn’t look like them, who doesn’t have the same morals that they think that they have, doesn’t love the people that they love. This will not end.”

Bysiewicz noted that she and Lamont are among a group of Democratic governors and lieutenant governors dedicated to protecting abortion rights in their states.

“Our message to women in Connecticut and to women across the country is we will take care of your reproductive health care here in Connecticut,” Bysiewicz said. “If you are being denied access in any other state, please come to Connecticut. We will make sure you get the critical care that you need. And we will fight. We will continue to fight. We will use every tool in the toolbox, whether it’s at the ballot box, whether it’s in our state legislature, whether it is in the United States Congress, or whether it is in courthouses in this state or across the country.”

The other elected official to speak at the press conference was Rep. Matt Blumenthal, D-Stamford, the co-chair of the legislature’s reproductive rights caucus — and a potential contender for attorney general, should Tong run for governor.

“What we saw on Friday was an egregious abuse of judicial power in the United States,” Blumenthal said. “A single federal district judge in Texas tried to essentially ban access to medication abortion in the entire country, in complete contravention of the facts, the science and the law.”

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Mark PazniokasCapitol Bureau Chief

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.