Ella Grasso, born on May 10, 1919, was elected the first woman governor in her own right in the United States in 1975 and became a symbol for women in politics. She remained true to her convictions, not swayed by trends or lobbyists. Never forgetting her hometown of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, where she lived for most of her life, Grasso’s focus remained on the people of Connecticut and their welfare, particularly children and families.
Grasso prohibited the use of state funding for abortions under Medicaid. She is quoted in a biography entry by Marilynn Wood Hill as saying she did not “wish to be a party to the killing of children of the poor.” A mother of two children herself, she thoroughly understood the issues involved.
After Grasso died of cancer in 1981, many people all over the state displayed bumper stickers reading “Thank You Ella.” Three years after her death, the Catholic Church in Connecticut hotly debated the topic of abortion. The then-Archbishop of Hartford John Wheaton addressed the issue in his weekly column in The Catholic Transcript. His headline read: “We Need More Ella Grassos.”