Conn. lieutenant governor launches Reproductive Freedom Coalition, a 'firewall' for abortion rights

Alison Cross, Hartford Courant on

Published in Political News

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz launched a Reproductive Freedom Coalition Monday composed of lieutenant governors from 22 states and territories who plan to act as a “firewall” against diminishing reproductive freedoms in the U.S.

The announcement arrived as Americans await a ruling in Texas on a case that holds the potential to eliminate nationwide access to the abortion pill mifepristone, which accounts for more than half of all abortions in the U.S.

The initiative, led by Bysiewicz, will drive model legislation, executive orders and policy aimed at protecting abortion providers from prosecution, maximizing federal funds for reproductive care, and defending abortion medication and contraception manufacturers.

“We are at a very important moment because not only has the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but we are now awaiting a decision from the federal court in Texas targeting the most commonly used method of abortion care,” Bysiewicz said. “In the wake of the attacks on reproductive freedom in legislatures across the country and in courtrooms across this country, this coalition will be a firewall to protect and expand women’s reproductive rights.”

Bysiewicz was joined in Hartford Monday by Pro-Choice Connecticut State Director Liz Gustafson and the Vice President of Public Policy, Advocacy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England Gretchen Raffa.

“One in three women and more trans and nonbinary people in the United States now do not have access to abortion care because over 19 states have now banned or severely restricted abortion care in their states,” Raffa said. “The harmful effects of these bans go beyond abortion care because people are now getting refused life saving medical care for miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, and other pregnancy related complications.”

Raffa said that “legal rights are meaningless without access to that care,” urging Connecticut to “break down barriers,” such as insurance gaps, that prevent residents from obtaining reproductive health care.

Raffa said Bysiewicz’s commitment to the Reproductive Freedom Coalition “continues the legacy of Connecticut being a true leader in this country for reproductive freedom.”


“We know that anti-abortion lawmakers and justices are not going to stop at banning abortion. They’re working towards a broader agenda, attacking all of our rights, including access to affordable birth control, gender affirming care, LGBTQ+ rights and more,” Raffa said. “And now … we are awaiting the decision from a Texas judge who is getting ready to ban mifepristone, a safe and effective medication that has been on the market for over 20 years and used by over 5 million people.”

The lieutenant governors’ coalition models alliances forged by state leaders in the midst of the mifepristone lawsuit.

Last month, Attorney General William Tong filed an amicus brief, along with 22 attorneys general, urging the court’s rejection of anti-abortion groups’ challenge to revoke FDA approval of the drug. Days later, Gov. Ned Lamont joined a network of 20 governors led by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to bolster abortion access.

Bysiewicz said that she was inspired to move forward with the Reproductive Freedom Coalition after seeing the governors’ initiative. She said that as attorneys general fight in the courts, it is incumbent upon “leaders in states to step forward and step up to protect women’s reproductive health care access.”

“I thought it was really important that we get lieutenant governors involved because there are many more women lieutenant governors and there are many lieutenant governors that are people of color whose communities will be disparately impacted with these anti-reproductive freedom initiatives,” Bysiewicz said.

“We have this very strong feeling amongst lieutenant governors across the country that represent more than 150 million people to make sure that we do everything that we can to protect and expand access to women’s health care.”

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