With Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, abortion becomes a central issue in the presidential campaign

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HARTFORD, Conn. — The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has galvanized supporters of abortion rights, who fear the liberal icon could be replaced by a conservative justice determined to place new limits on the procedure.

“This is not an understatement: The fate of our rights, our freedoms, our health care, our bodies, our lives, and our democracy depend on what happens over the coming months,” said Gretchen Raffa, senior director of public policy, advocacy and organizing at Planned Parenthood Votes! Connecticut.

Liz Gustafson, state director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, called Ginsburg “a legal giant who never stopped defending our right to control our bodies, our lives and our futures.

“Today we mourn,” Gustafson added. “Tomorrow we fight.”

Ginsburg, one of the court’s most steadfast champions of abortion rights, died Friday at 87, prompting a pledge from advocates to intensify their efforts to unseat President Donald Trump and Republicans in the Senate. Trump’s Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, both support legalized abortion.

The prospect of a bitter struggle over abortion rights and a host of other progressive causes supported by Ginsburg, including Obamacare and LGBTQ civil rights, caps an already tumultuous campaign season.

Those who support limits on abortion offered expressions of sympathy to Ginsburg’s family but said the looming battle over the Supreme Court brings fresh urgency to the presidential election.

“There’s no question that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a glass ceiling breaker,” said Christina Bennett, who lives in Connecticut and is co-chairwoman of Pro-Life Voices for Trump. “While I can honor her for her obvious accomplishments, I disagree with her completely on abortion and the dehumanization of unborn children.”

Opponents of legalized abortion have long worked to ensure the issue remains at the forefront of the presidential race. They have a powerful ally in Trump. “He’s given people a lot of enthusiasm,” she said.

Following Ginsburg’s death, Roe v. Wade began trending on Twitter. “The intensity has increased 100%,” Bennett said. “Both sides are now focused on the court.”

Connecticut has among the nation’s least restrictive abortion laws. Unlike other states, Connecticut does not require minors seeking to obtain an abortion to notify a parent. The state also places no limits on abortions that are paid for with public funds.

The provisions of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, have been codified into state law, meaning that even if the ruling were overturned, abortion would remain legal in Connecticut.

Ginsburg’s progressive opinions have made her a hero to many liberals. In addition to her unwavering support of legalized abortion, she advocated for the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans, immigrants and people with disabilities.

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg leaves a nation changed because of her life’s work,” said David McGuire, executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut. “She was a titan for reproductive freedom and gender justice, and her blistering dissent when the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act remains a clarion call against racial discrimination in voting.”

Beth Kerrigan, a Democratic member of the West Hartford Town Council and the named plaintiff in the lawsuit that led Connecticut to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples, said she hopes Ginsburg’s death is a summons to action.

“To put the burden for a more just, a more equal and a more loving country on one person, an 87-year-old woman with pancreatic cancer, is unfair,” Kerrigan said. “We’ve delegated a lot to Ruth, but the onus is on each and everyone of us … to speak out.”


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