Rep. Matt Blumenthal said the bill does not prevent hospitals from making their own decisions about hiring. MARK PAZNIOKAS / CTMIRROR.ORG

Medical providers in Connecticut who face disciplinary action in other states for performing abortions could not be denied a license, have their license revoked, or be denied privileges here based solely on their out-of-state sanctions under a bill that cleared the House Thursday.

Proponents say the measure is an extension of efforts adopted last year to expand access to abortion and to protect those who provide or receive one. Legislation passed in 2022 made Connecticut a legal “safe harbor” state for those who travel here from another state to receive an abortion and the clinicians who perform them. It also expanded the type of providers who can perform first-trimester abortions to include nurse midwives, advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants.

The legislation approved Thursday in a 128 to 19 vote provides another layer of protection, supporters said.

The measure does not prevent state officials from taking action against a physician for conduct that otherwise would be subject to discipline under Connecticut’s laws.

“We do not have enough highly qualified health care providers to treat the good people of Connecticut. You talk to any one of your constituents, and regardless of the specialty, the waiting lists are long,” said Rep. Christie Carpino, R-Cromwell. “We don’t have enough health care providers that choose to practice in the state of Connecticut. And I am just one voice here … but I see this simply as a way to protect the men and women who are treating the people of Connecticut, providing critical and legal services.”

Some legislators raised concerns about the bill’s language and the impact on health care facilities with religious affiliations.

“I am not convinced that it protects religiously affiliated hospitals, religiously affiliated organizations that may want to provide pregnancy care services all the way up through delivery. … I think there is absolutely a religious liberty issue,” said Rep. Brian Lanoue, R-Griswold. “They should have a right to say we’re not going to hire people in our particular institution because they either actively perform abortions somewhere else or have performed them in the past. I absolutely think that is the right of the institution to do that.”

Rep. Matt Blumenthal, D-Stamford, one of the proposal’s sponsors, said the decision to hire someone remains with the hospitals.

“We designed this language to very particularly allow institutions to hire individuals based on the terms they wanted to,” he said. “What this bill says is that you can’t then deny or revoke their privileges or credentials after-the-fact if you haven’t contracted around those issues.

“This bill does nothing to prevent an institution from choosing not to hire someone. It just prevents them from taking action after-the-fact if they haven’t included preventing these activities in the actual hiring process.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for final approval.

Jenna is CT Mirror’s Health Reporter, focusing on health access, affordability, quality, equity and disparities, social determinants of health, health system planning, infrastructure, processes, information systems, and other health policy. Before joining CT Mirror Jenna was a reporter at The Hartford Courant for 10 years, where she consistently won statewide and regional awards. Jenna has a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and a Bachelor or Arts degree in Journalism from Grand Valley State University.