Thursday, January 26, 2017

Suzio Draws Large Crowd At Town Hall

Photo by Karen Swartz
Our city's state senator, Len Suzio, staunchly defended his efforts to restrict abortion access in Connecticut, in a packed town hall meeting in Russell Library last night.

The turnout far exceeded the expectations of Russell Library or Senator Suzio and his staff. When it was clear that the Hubbard room would not hold the crowd, Suzio held court in the larger periodicals reading room, with the floor area as well as the walkway above packed with well over 150 city residents.

Suzio spoke briefly about the state's $1.5B deficit for the next fiscal year.  He blamed it on state worker pensions, and called the state finances, "not bad but catastrophic."  He went on to talk proudly of his efforts to prevent any studies about a mileage tax, and his efforts to increase state spending on prisons.

Suzio took questions from the audience for about an hour. Almost all of the questions revolved around Suzio's support of new laws that would restrict access to abortion in Connecticut. Many of them were from young women who wondered why men like Suzio would presume to legislate women's reproductive decisions.

Elise Springer asked Suzio a direct question about the broader issue of government control over women's reproductive choices.
Can you affirm that you generally ... support, people’s autonomy over their own bodies, including what happens in a person’s uterus? That is, apart from constraints here and there, such as your bill about parental notification, do you basically support choice?
He did not answer her question.

The gathering revealed a great divide between Suzio's beliefs and those of nearly everyone else in the room. This was perhaps best encapsulated in the crowd's response to Suzio's justification for mandating parental notification before a minor can have an abortion.
Suzio. I want an adult, who has their best interest at heart, and I don't want someone who is involved in actually performing the procedure, to be that person. I don't think they're necessarily neutral in that situation. You want someone to look and say, 'given this child's situation, here's the best way to handle that.' That to me is actually the most open approach to the whole thing. I'm not dictating that this young child has an abortion or doesn't have an abortion, I want a process to make certain that that child gets the best possible adult input into her situation and if it's not her parents, and probably everybody in this room can agree that in the ideal world it would be the parent, right?
Chorus of residents. NO! NO! NO!  
Suzio (incredulously). In the ideal world??!!?? 
Chorus of voices. NO! NO! NO!  It should be the person.
Suzio (incredulously). Yeah, but a 13 or 14 year old???!!??? 
Chorus of voices. YES! YES! YES! It's not 1950.
Suzio (stunned). Hold on, hold on.  Look, I'm happy to discuss this issue, and let's have a dialogue. But we all know... Look, today in the state capitol there was a hearing in the sentencing commission and they were talking about young men who have been incarcerated committing terrible crimes. And they were focused on very young people, talking about 17, 18, 19, 20 years old. And their argument was that we should treat them differently, that we should treat them as juveniles, ... because their brains haven't been fully formed, they're not capable of making the kind of decisions, a mature decision a fully formed adult would do.
Resident. Are you saying having an abortion is a crime? 
Video of the first part of the town hall is available on Facebook, the above exchange starts at the 10:40 mark.


Karen Swartz said...

The parental notification proposal is nearly redundant to current laws already in place and will apply to an extremely small amount of people/cases. As explained by an attorney at the meeting, the proposal does not provide for how courts can realistically accomodate. This is simply a maneuver to chip away at reproductive rights... the next proposal will surely be more restrictive.

Karen Swartz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I heard from someone who was there that an audience member called out the senator for repeatedly rolling his eyes at questions/comments. Can anyone else confirm? Seems awfully disrespectful of the people he represents if true.

Paul Schmitz said...

He was being inundated - and was understandably a little flustered. He was apologetic and professional in my opinion. Go see him in Middlefield next week! Judge for yourself!

Thanks for the article Mr. Devoto.

Karen Swartz said...

He did seem annoyed that the abortion proposal was dominating the discussion and stated several times that he wanted to move onto other topics and give people a chance to ask about othrr issues, but the overwhelmin response was that people wanted to talk about reproductive rights and object to his proposal. To be fair, there were so many in attendance that it was impossible for all questions to be acknowledged. He also made a comment that I found dismissive about everyone there being students, which was not true at all, I'd say maybe a third of the crowd seemed like students. (Which I counted at 200)

Bill said...

I agree with Paul Schmitz!

Unknown said...

He was called out on his eye rolling and making faces three times.

cybermom said...

There were people there from all ages. I was there because reproductive rights are being attacked. If people want to keep reproductive rights get out and demonstrate and vote Len Suzio and others like him out of office.

Kid to Kid Current Events said...

Where will he be next?

Stephen H. Devoto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephen H. Devoto said...

Suzio appears Monday at the Middlefield Community Center, then Tuesday at Cheshire Town Hall, both events are 6PM start.
More coverage of the Russell Library event is in The Middletown Press.

Unknown said...

Cheshire Town Hall, Tuesday Jan 31. 6-7:30 pm, 84 S Main St. Extra parking across street at Watch Factory shopped, red brick bldg across street.

Anonymous said...

The Cheshire Town Hall scheduled for Tuesday has been cancelled. We don't think he is ashamed of The Middletown Eye exposing to sunshine his atavistic and misogynistic crusade against women's rights. It's the weather.