Attorney General William Tong joins Mike Hydeck to talk about his push to strengthen abortion protections in Connecticut.
Mike Hydeck: Well, as you may know, our state has protections in place for our residents and even women coming here from out of state to try to get an abortion, but wIll these latest challenges in court change that? Connecticut's Attorney General William Tong is joining us now to explain. Mr. Tong, welcome back to Face the Facts.
William Tong: Hey, Mike, thanks for having me.
Mike Hydeck: So this all centers around a federal judge in Texas hoping to block this distribution of mifepristone. Can they do that in Connecticut?
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William Tong: No. And you know, it's absurd. It's part of the nationwide attack on women and reproductive health care. You know, and at first, they said this was all about states' rights before the Dobbs decision, reversing Roe vs. Wade. But actually now, I guess it's not about states' rights that just want to ban the use of mifepristone everywhere in this country. And to eliminate access to a very safe procedure that for the last 20 years has served more than 5.6 million American women and patients.
Mike Hydeck: An article in the Washington Post that even in liberal states like Connecticut, where there are Walgreens, it could actually change the way they distribute here in Connecticut. The Walgreens here in West Hartford, would they have to stop distributing it if this ruling comes through? Or it will not happen that way?
William Tong: No, I don't think actually one federal court making a decision in Texas will immediately impact Connecticut. But of course, this is a coordinated nationwide attack on all of us. And that's why I'm in Washington Federal Court with my fellow attorneys general suing the FDA actually to compel the FDA to stop treating mifepristone as, you know, a highly dangerous drug where of the thousands of other drugs that they that they approved for use in this country. Mifepristone is one of 60 that is subjected to a special classification called REMS, which requires special certification by prescribers and dispensaries, and also special procedures with respect to patients and it's totally unnecessary. It's a drag on healthcare and on access, and it's designed it seems to keep women and patients from accessing safe reproductive healthcare.
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Mike Hydeck: Now Connecticut lawmakers in both parties worked on a plan to have pharmacists legally able to dispense these drugs for medical abortions. I think you were even at the news conference. Is that in jeopardy now, because of this? Or is it on hold at least, or no?
William Tong: Again, what happens in a Texas federal court will not have an immediate impact on Connecticut. But at the end of the day, our priority here in Connecticut is in maintaining safe and accessible and affordable healthcare and that includes reproductive healthcare and abortion.
Mike Hydeck: So last question on this topic, does it get to the Supreme Court in your view?
William Tong: I'm not sure yet because I'm not sure where this federal judge in Texas is going to come down in how he'll craft his decision so stay tuned.
Mike Hydeck: All right, so you had another release this week that you're going to try to convince our state legislature to give you more investigative powers. You're here for the consumer, why do you need more power?
William Tong: So you'd be surprised to find that or to learn that we have limited powers to investigate misconduct with respect to state money and the spending of public resources. So you would think, most people think the Attorney General has broad authority to fight corruption and waste, fraud and abuse, particularly with respect to state dollar, state investments, state contracting, and we do only with respect to health and human services spending, but nothing else. And most people are surprised when they say, "Well, why isn't the Attorney General investigating school construction? Allegations of misconduct in school construction?' Or why isn't the Attorney General investigating West Haven? Or why can't he do more in New London and the Port Authority? And the reason why is because our authority in this state is limited, unlike any other state in our region. And unlike the federal government, I'm also asking the legislature to give us expanded authority to investigate banks in to issue subpoenas before I have to file a lawsuit so that we can take action when things like M&T happen and M&T fails to serve its customers in the way that it should after takes over People's United Bank.
Mike Hydeck: So we you have less investigative powers than surrounding states like Massachusetts and New York, is that what you're saying?
William Tong: Yes, absolutely.
Mike Hydeck: Okay, so if this change goes through, the change you're requesting, that means you're gonna get a much bigger caseload. So does that mean hiring more lawyers in your department and more support staff to try to pull all these cases off at once? That's a lot of people I think you need.
William Tong: It could mean that, but it also means more accountability, more transparency, less fraud, waste, and abuse. Every public dollar is entitled to the same protection. And as you may know, Mike, other than the Department of Revenue Services, no state agency returns more to the people of the state than the Attorney General's Office. Close to a billion dollars in overall value last year alone. And so it's always been a good return on taxpayer dollars to invest in the Attorney General's Office.
Mike Hydeck: Attorney General William Tong, thanks so much for joining us on Face the Facts. We appreciate your time this morning.
William Tong: Thank you, Mike.