- Associated Press - Monday, January 23, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The abortion issue is under debate at the Connecticut state Capitol after years of little to no discussion in the state.

It comes after more Republicans - some socially conservative - were elected to the General Assembly following Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign. Some have proposed bills that haven’t been seen before in Connecticut, including legislation to require an ultrasound before a woman can terminate a pregnancy.

“That is taking us backward and frankly that’s scary,” said Sen. Mae Flexer, D-Danielson, who contends the bill would mandate transvaginal ultrasounds, a type of pelvic ultrasound used to examine women’s internal organs. However, an early version of the bill refers only to an “ultrasound procedure for the health benefit of the patient” prior to an abortion.

“That’s the kind of debate that’s been happening in other states and other parts of the country, and we didn’t think it was going to happen here in Connecticut but it is happening and those are bills are being introduced,” Flexer said.

She was joined Monday by a coalition of lawmakers who unveiled their own package of bills to protect abortion rights and women’s health care services. “And we’re here today to stand up and say, ‘That’s not the direction Connecticut is going to move in with our long history of protecting women’s health care,’” Flexer said.

Bob Duff, the Senate’s majority leader, promised that none of the bills limiting abortion rights will be taken up this year in the Senate, which has an equal number of Democratic and Republican senators for the first time since 1893.

Multiple bills have been offered this year, mostly by Republicans to impose mandates such as parental notification before a minor receives an abortion.

Christopher O’Brien, the legislative affairs representative for Connecticut Right to Life, said more Republicans in the state appear willing to be publicly open about their opposition to abortion, especially after Trump’s victory. He said frustration has been growing about the lack of debate at the Capitol on abortion-related issues.

The last major debate on an abortion-related issue was in 2007, when Connecticut voted to require all hospitals, including Catholic ones, to offer emergency contraception to rape victims.

Some Catholics equate the so-called Plan B pill to abortion, a claim proponents of the legislation denied.

“People who have not been able to speak before and have been shut out are now able to,” O’Brien said.

Peter Wolfgang, president of the Family Institute of Connecticut, contends the legislature has slowly become more socially conservative over the year, not just since Trump’s election.

“I think the Republican caucus here has moved in a more conservative direction,” he said. “This is not the Republican caucus we were dealing with in about 2005, 2006. They’re still certainly to the left of the national Republican Party. But I find them more responsive to their constituents than they were 10 or 12 years ago.”


This story has been corrected to show the bill does not specify a type of ultrasound.

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