Abortion demonstrators march around Bushnell Park in Hartford after a rally outside the state Capitol. / Photo by Yehyun Kim, CTMirror.org

By Katy Golvala / CTMirror.org

Earlier this week, a draft Supreme Court opinion leaked, revealing the immediate possibility that the court could repeal Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that guaranteed Americans the constitutional right to an abortion.

If the court moves forward with the reversal, the decision of abortion access will fall to the states.

In Connecticut, political leaders say they are committed to protecting abortion as a right. 

A bill that both broadens access and enhances legal protections for abortions passed through both chambers of the legislature last month, and Gov. Ned Lamont signed it into law.

Westport abortion-rights demonstration

In Westport, a Mother’s Day demonstration in support of abortion rights is planned at 4 p.m. Sunday on the Post Road’s Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.

Connecticut’s Attorney General William Tong committed to defending abortion in the state, even if proposals for a nationwide ban gain traction, telling abortion rights coalition members, “We will fight that effort, tooth and nail, any court, any place. Connecticut will be there, and we will fight.”

Here are some key facts about abortions in Connecticut and who is most likely to access this care.

State abortions continue to decrease

The number of abortions performed in Connecticut dropped by nearly a third in the decade between 2009 and 2019, which mirrors declines seen across the country.

Experts believe the decline is partially due to increased access to contraception as well as declining births overall. Greater access to abortion medication could also mean that more people are having safe abortions outside of a clinical setting, but that data wouldn’t be captured.

Majority of abortions for those with lower incomes

Data breaking down who obtains abortions by income in Connecticut aren’t available, and the latest national data by income is from 2014. But people living at or near the poverty line turn to abortions at a disproportionate rate.

Across the country in 2014, three-fourths of abortion patients earned incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, up from 69 percent in 2008. 

Experts say the increase in the proportion of people with low incomes seeking abortions could be partially due to increased access to high-quality contraception disproportionately benefitting people with higher incomes.

Higher abortion rates among Black, Hispanic people

In 2019, Black and Hispanic people accounted for 57 percent of abortions in Connecticut but only accounted for 19 percent of the overall population.

Experts partially ascribe the trend to lower access to quality contraceptive methods, resulting from cost barriers, as well as distrust of the medical system following a history of mistreatment. 

Black feminists have long criticized the mainstream feminist movement for its narrow focus on abortion while ignoring issues like health care access, sexually transmitted infections, forced sterilization and child care.

Most seeking abortions already have given birth

Nearly 60 percent of Connecticut residents who got an abortion in 2019 had already given birth to at least one child.

The most recent study (published in 2004) that looked at reasons people got abortions found that nearly one in five people (19 percent) who got an abortion nationally reported that they had either completed their childbearing, had others depending on them or that their children were grown. 

This was up from only 8 percent of respondents in 1987.

People overwhelmingly get abortions at less than 13 weeks of gestation

Forty-four states ban abortions after a certain point in pregnancy. Connecticut bans abortions at the point of viability, which typically occurs between 24 and 28 weeks.

Data show that people overwhelmingly seek abortions in the earliest weeks of gestation. In 2019, abortions at nine weeks or less accounted for over 80 percent of abortions in the state.