RAMER: If a Woman’s Right to Choose is Important to You, Consider Your Local Candidates

Submitted by Jeffrey Ramer, Riverside

If a Woman’s Right to Choose is important to you, consider wisely when casting your ballot this Election cycle, not so much on the office of President, but rather much more importantly (oddly enough) on the candidates for State Assembly and the State Senate.

The abandonment of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, which now seems a possibility, would devolve the prerogative to create that Right (or not) to the legislatures of the individual states.  The representatives that you send to the State Legislature this year could likely control whether a woman in Connecticut has the Right to Choose.

Roe v. Wade was based in 1973 upon a concept of a Right to Privacy.  Justice Harry Blackmun, in his majority opinion, found that Right under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, even though the word “privacy” appears nowhere in the Constitution.

But the root of that concept arose right here in Connecticut, from the Supreme Court’s earlier rejection of Connecticut’s criminalization of contraception.   Estelle Griswold was the executive director of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut.  Dr. C. Lee Buxton was a volunteer physician at Yale. Together, in 1961, they had the audacity to open a clinic in New Haven that offered advice and prescriptions to married women seeking access to contraception.  And together they were criminally convicted in Connecticut of that heinous crime.  

Stodgy Connecticut was one of two remaining states with the Comstock Law, which prohibited “any person from using any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception”.  Doggedly spending years appealing their convictions through the Connecticut and Federal court systems, the case finally found its way to the Supreme Court in 1965 as Griswold v. Connecticut, where the majority opinion (Justice Willian O. Douglas) struck down the criminalization of contraception as a violation of a woman’s Constitutional right to “marital privacy”, a brand new concept.

Connecticut is still not exactly a bastion of liberal jurisprudence.  Were a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court now to decide that this delicate matter is better left for determination by each individual State, don’t assume the protection of that Right here in Connecticut.

It seems relevant, in that context, that in our recent debates, every single Republican candidate for the State Legislature has mouthed a rehearsed mantra, commenting opaquely that on a Woman’s Right to Choose, they would each support whatever is the Law.

Maybe it is time that all of our Legislative candidates be more explicit:  If elected, and if a Bill establishing a Woman’s Right to Choose comes before them in our Connecticut State Legislature, are they voting “yea” or are they voting “nay” ?

Editor’s note: Letters to the Editor in support of local candidates in the Nov 3, 2020 election may be submitted to [email protected] for consideration beginning July 15 and with a hard deadline of Oct 26, 2020 at noon.