A ‘Bans Off Our Bodies’ rally outside Stamford Superior Court on Sunday drew about 300, significantly more than the rally in the same spot last October.
The event was one of hundreds organized over the weekend in response to the leak of a Supreme Court draft on May 2 indicating justices are poised to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Since the rally last October, more and more states have enacted laws restricting abortion, as well as trigger laws that will go into effect almost immediately if Roe is overturned.
“We have gotten a major signal from our Supreme Court that we are going backwards,” said Connecticut Lt Governor Susan Bysiewicz. “They want to make women second class citizens. And they have told us in no uncertain terms that it is not just reproductive rights at stake. It is also the rights of people of color that are at stake, and of our LGBTQ community. The stakes are high.”
Bysiewicz noted the main precedent cited in Roe vs Wade was Griswold v Connecticut.
“That was our state providing the right to privacy – that five decades of settled law was based on,” she said. “Then in the 1990s, Connecticut very smartly decided they would codify Roe vs Wade into state statute.”
Last week Governor Lamont signed into law the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act that will protect medical providers and patients who travel from other states like Texas to access safe, legal abortion care.
“Connecticut has said very clearly to Texas, and any other state, that we are a safe harbor for any woman…and for their their vigilantes to stay out of our state,” Bysiewicz said.
“There are candidates for office in November who say they support our Connecticut Roe v Wade law. However, they haven’t said that they will fight off any restrictions or any attempt to cut back on the law that we have,” Bysiewicz said. “Every legislative session, those attacks come. You are not pro choice unless you say you that support our Connecticut law and you will do everything to prevent attempts to cut back on it.”
Bysiewicz noted the presence at the rally of local elected officials and candidates for office in November, and urged everyone to exercise their right to vote.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong vowed to be the first to sue if Roe v Wade is overturned.
“What the Supreme Court purports to do now is tragic. It’s destructive. It’s dangerous,” Tong said.
“A lot of people think the end of Roe is the end of this fight,” he added. “It’s just the beginning for the other side. This is the first step. Don’t think for a second that just because we codified Roe that we are good here in Connecticut. Because once they overturn Roe, they open the floodgates, and they will come for us. They will try to overturn our law. They will try to chip away at our laws. Parental notification. They’ll try to restrict a woman and a patient and a doctor’s decision based on medical necessity.”
“Let me say to all of you, and to people in Congress who think they can try to ban abortion on a nationwide basis, if you try, I will be the first to sue,” Tong said to cheers.
“I pledge to you, whatever it takes – tooth and nail. Any court – state, federal, district, appellate, Supreme Court, Connecticut will fight. I will not stop fighting for all of you.”
State Rep Matt Blumenthal (D-147), co-chair of CT General Assembly’s Reproductive Rights Caucus, described the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act as the strongest law protecting safe, legal abortion in the country.
“It also protects gender affirming care here in the state of Connecticut. It protects patients and providers here in Connecticut. And this year, we also expanded access to reproductive healthcare by expanding the providers eligible to provide it, and by funding it, because a right means nothing if you can’t access it.”
Blumenthal said Connecticut’s reproductive rights accomplishments don’t solve the problems of people across the country who will lose access to safe, legal abortion if the leaked opinion becomes law.
“I don’t want to discount the darkness of the period it looks like we’re about to enter. That opinion, as horrendous as any overruling of Roe would be, is positively antediluvian. It would set us back almost 100 years in terms of rights that we consider today part of our birthright as Americans.”
“Don’t let anyone tell you that this isn’t about women’s equality,” he added. “This opinion would put at risk not only the right to safe, legal abortion and other reproductive healthcare, but also LGBTQ rights, including the right to same sex marriage, and same sex intimacy, the right to contraception, and perhaps even the right to interracial marriage.”
Sophie Khanna from Greenwich filled in for her mother who is a Democratic candidate for State Rep in the 149th district.
“My mom is running to protect our rights – reproductive rights, civil rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights – rights that the Supreme Court is working to reverse starting right now by stripping women of our right to make our own healthcare decisions – to decide if, when, and how to become a parent.”
“Unlike her opponent, Kimberly Fiorello, who voted against Sate Rep Blumenthal’s bill, she will always support swift legislative action in response to other state’s attempts to impose their anti-choice laws on us,” she added.
Democrat Trevor Crow who is challenging State Senator Ryan Fazio in the 36th district, which includes Greenwich and parts of New Canaan and Stamford, asked the crowd, “Are you prepared to lose your bodily autonomy? To lose your right to access safe, legal abortion? To lose your access to your reproductive healthcare?”
“Know that when I am your State Senator I will fight tirelessly, tooth and nail, to preserve and encourage greater access to safe and legal reproductive healthcare,” Crow said.
Dita Bhargava, who is running as a Democratic candidate for Connecticut State Treasurer said she was horrified at the news that Roe v Wade may be overturned.
“The Supreme Court is repealing the 20th century,” Bhargava said.
“As an Indian-American woman and working parent raised by a single immigrant mom, I understand first hand the dangerous impact of a decision that would strike down Roe v Wade. This decision will have far reaching and life threatening consequences for many in our country, especially targeting communities of color,” Bhargava said.
“The restriction on abortion access will further widen the racial and economic divides, and continue to uphold institutional racism, sexism and economic degradation, damaging lives and entire generations of families in the process.”
Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons spoke last.
“When we heard the news that the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, was on the verge of overturning Roe v Wade, it ignited a wave of protest and outcry across this country, and it ignited feelings outrage in all of us,” she said. “If this is overturned, 26 states will ban abortion, affecting 36 million women across this country. And we know the disproportionate effect this will have on women of color, on immigrant women, on low income women.”
“This is not an accident. This is a deliberate attempt by conservatives to roll back our rights that have been in the works for decades,” Simmons said. “We’ve seen it in our courts. We’ve seen it in our state legislatures where there have been over 1,000 bills passed to restrict reproductive freedoms.”
Simmons described the Texas law that bans a woman’s right to have an abortion after six weeks, even in cases of rape or incest, as draconian, disgusting and un-American.
Simmons urged the crowd to “knock on doors” for pro-choice candidates in November and “call legislators and bang on the doors in Washington.”
Bans Off Our Bodies rally outside Stamford Superior Court. May 15, 2022 Photo: Leslie Yager