Senate readies for debate on abortion legislation

SHOREHAM — A topic of conversation at Monday’s legislative breakfast in Shoreham centered around H.57, a bill aimed at preserving a woman’s right to have an abortion. 
That right is already guaranteed at the federal level through the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, but state lawmakers drafted H.57 as a way to maintain a woman’s right to choose if the land’s highest court reverses its position on abortion law.
Local lawmakers said they’ve received many emails from people for and against abortion rights.
Critics have suggested H.57 might pave the way for the state to legalize so-called late-term abortions. Authors of the bill have said that claim is false.
Father Luke Austin of St. Mary’s Catholic Church said, “Early in the pregnancy, the interests are toward the mother; later in the pregnancy the interests are more toward the potential life and state’s interest in protecting that life.”
He noted New York state’s Reproductive Health Act has used case law in delineating “viable life” at 24 weeks.
“What are the chances that could be put onto H.57 in the Senate?” Austin asked.
Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, replied that the Senate hasn’t been able to devote much time yet to H.57, but added it would get its turn and could be sized up for amendments during the legislative process.
Rep. Harvey Smith, R-New Haven, called H.57 a “very emotional and controversial” bill.
“For the first time since I’ve been in the Legislature and dealing with abortion issues… I had a few pro-choice supporters asking me to vote ‘no’ on this bill because they thought it went too far,” Smith said.

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