Joined on Tuesday by medical professionals, lawyers, advocates and legislators, Attorney General William Tong announced Connecticut’s participation in a pro bono Legal Assistance Abortion Hotline, tapping into a volunteer network of trained private attorneys to provide free legal guidance and representation to patients and providers regarding their rights to access and provide abortion.
Additionally, Attorney General Tong announced he will appoint a new Special Counsel for Reproductive Rights to lead the Office of the Attorney General in protecting abortion access and reproductive care in Connecticut and anywhere those rights are challenged nationwide.
“Abortion is legal and protected in Connecticut. That’s not good enough. Women, patients, and providers are confused about their rights, and afraid that out-of-state extremists could seek to criminalize their lawful personal and professional choices. Today’s announcement provides clarity, as well as the legal resources to protect and defend our rights and choices,” said Attorney General Tong in a release. “The pro bono Legal Assistance Abortion Hotline marshals a growing network of trained, private attorneys able to provide free information and representation to patients and providers. Within the Office of the Attorney General, I am creating a new position—Special Counsel for Reproductive Rights—to lead our work in protecting abortion access in any court, in any state where reproductive rights are challenged.”
“Reproductive freedom is under attack,” said State Representative Matthew Blumenthal. “To protect and expand it in Connecticut, all branches of government must work together. I look forward to working with Attorney General Tong to ensure access to safe, legal abortion—and all reproductive healthcare—in our state.”
“The abortion access crisis in our country is a public health emergency,” said Zari Watkins, Chief Operating Officer, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “We are fortunate to have elected leaders in Connecticut who understand the urgency of this moment and took swift action this year to pass the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act. Yet there is still more work to be done to remove barriers like access to transportation, childcare, and insurance coverage that keep abortion out of reach even for people here in Connecticut. Planned Parenthood won’t stop fighting until every person has the power to control their own reproductive destinies and the freedom to make personal health care decisions that impact their lives, health, and futures.”
“Connecticut must act quickly to dismantle barriers to abortion access and ensure that abortion is accessible, affordable, and available to all,” said Jess Zaccagnino, Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. “Everyone deserves access to abortion care in their community, on the timeline they choose, and by the provider they trust. Access to abortion is not just about its legality but also about humanity, dignity and freedom. Abortion is healthcare. Abortion is a moral good. Abortion is a legal right, and abortion is a human right,”
“People, not anti-abortion politicians, should have the freedom to make their own decisions, including when it comes to abortion care. Abortion is a part of reproductive and maternal healthcare, and every circumstance is unique. When people are making personal medical decisions, it is abundantly clear that one-size fits-all laws don’t work,” said Liz Gustafson, State Director, Pro-Choice Connecticut.
“We believe in a future where everyone can exercise their bodily autonomy with dignity, compassion and respect- not confusion, shame, or the threat of surveillance or the criminalization of pregnancy outcomes. We are grateful for our State’s allies and champions for continuing to take bold action in effort to ensure people in Connecticut know their rights and can access the abortion care that they need.”
Abortion is legal and protected in Connecticut, despite the threats posed by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Access to accurate information is vital. To that end, Attorney General Tong today released a legal overview and analysis of abortion law in Connecticut, a Know Your Rights flyer and series of frequently asked questions.
Attorney General Tong will work with government agencies, advocates, and providers to share this information as broadly as possible.
Prior to the announcement, Attorney General Tong and his office held strategy sessions with doctors, lawyers, advocates, and legislators to discuss challenges, gaps, and needs that may require legislative or administrative action to ensure access to abortion care in Connecticut.
Areas of consideration include funding for clinic security, protections against disclosure of pregnancy status, protections against increases in medical malpractice insurance rates for properly performing legal abortions, clarifying Connecticut doctors’ ability to use telehealth to prescribe and dispense abortion medication as providers do in other states, expansion of health insurance for undocumented youth over age 12, among other policy considerations. Attorney General Tong will work with stakeholders and legislators over the next several months to support a legislative agenda that protects access to safe, legal and accessible abortion in Connecticut.
Pro Bono Legal Assistance
The legal hotline was established by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who convened a Task Force on Reproductive Health of trained, volunteer attorneys to staff it. Several task Force members have offices in Connecticut, and Attorney General Tong today announced that the legal hotline can provide free legal guidance and resources to Connecticut patients and providers regarding their legal rights to access and provide abortions.
The legal hotline number is 212-899-5567.