What’s the Deal with HB5414?

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Kimberly Fiorello and Ryan Fazio are telling us they voted against the Reproductive Freedom Defense Act (HB5414) in order to protect patient safety. This bill, that passed this year with bipartisan support, expands access to abortion in Connecticut by permitting certain non-physician clinicians to perform non-surgical (aspiration and medication) abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This convention is endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the premier professional organization responsible for OB-GYN practice guidelines. ACOG does not consider these procedures to be surgery. Fifteen other states permit this practice and there is evidence in the medical literature for safety. This Act will help decrease the current two week waiting times in our state for time-sensitive medical care.

At the recent Round Hill Association debate, Ryan Fazio (timestamp 47:50) said that no medical organizations testified in support of HB5414, but Dr. Saud Anwar, a physician and state senator, noted from the Senate Floor (timestamp 6:07:00), that the CT Department of Public Health, the American Public Health Association, and ACOG are all on board with the bill. Further, physician and chair of the board of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England testified in favor of the bill (when it was HB5261) in addition to supportive testimony from “gynecologists, physician assistants, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and midwives.”

Both Ms Fiorello and Mr Fazio reference their Democratic colleagues who voted against the bill along with them during the recent debate. In truth, 17 Democrats voted no, and 12 of their Republican colleagues voted yes. It’s important to recognize that most of the Democrats who opposed the bill, did so primarily on racial inequity grounds – not safety concerns – with a few of their colleagues recounting a fraught history of disparate reproductive pressures on women of color.

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Voters should take this background into consideration when they evaluate their legislators’ no votes on HB5414.

Jennifer Barro, MD
Greenwich, CT