“Suzio’s views on reproductive rights can best be described as condescending with a side of archaic.”
Last night, the Connecticut state senator for district 13 (which includes Middletown), Len Suzio, hosted a town hall meeting at Russell Library. The unexpectedly large crowd contained over 100 Wesleyan students, expressing deep concern about a “parental notification bill” introduced by Suzio, HB 5566 which would inform the parents of a minor if said minor wished to obtain an abortion. Many concerned Middletown residents were also in attendance, and the meeting had to be moved to a larger space in order to accommodate the audience. Read past the jump for more on what transpired at the town hall and a video of an exchange with the senator.
Word of the town hall spread through the Wesleyan community via a shared Facebook post, describing the nature of the anti-choice bills that Suzio was proposing and supporting. About 20 students gathered at a senior house on Home Ave. before the town hall to make signs and discuss how to best approach the topic at the meeting. Many more students went straight to Russell Library, where the original venue for town hall quickly overflowed; Suzio and the crowd had to relocate to the main library atrium, where Suzio delivered a spiel on his new proposals before taking questions.
A fan of adjectives and abortion restrictions, Suzio regaled the crowd with his beliefs on reproductive freedom and incarceration tactics. Among the issues discussed, Suzio seemed most concerned with the deficit situation, which he described as ‘scary bad’ and the “opening act that is unfolding for the financial nightmare of the state.”
The senator’s solution for the deficit issue is to further cut social funding in several areas, and argues that a larger percentage of Connecticut tax is used in comparison to other states. However, despite this obvious financial burden, Suzio is a proponent of the early release law. According to the senator, 393 perpetrators of sexual assault have been released without proper rehabilitation. In order to combat this and “protect women” Suzio supports the enforcement of longer sentences and a reduction in the numbers of inmates with early release. According to him, longer prison sentences and few attempts to decrease incarceration rates are the best way to decrease the deficit.
Suzio’s views on reproductive rights can be best be described as condescending with a side of archaic. The senator has helped introduce and supports two different bills concerning the right to abortion. In the case of his parental notification bill, Suzio maintains that in the case of abuse, the minor would be able to apply for a judicial ‘opt-out’ where a judge would determine whether an abortion would be within their best interests. The second bill, which he supports, mandates that pregnant women seeking an abortion undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound, which is both invasive and unnecessary. Throughout his presentation, Suzio attempted to lighten the mood with attempts at self-deprecating humor. “Well, I’ve never personally had one!” he said, referring to a trans-vaginal ultrasound.
Despite a few vocal supporters, including a parent who delivered an impassioned speech to the crowd, the audience was overwhelmingly pro-choice and opposed Suzio’s rhetoric. As the senator continued his diatribe, the room began to visibly seethe with anger. Suzio was careful to never utter the words “pro-life”. However, when asked whether he identified as pro-choice and would fight to protect reproductive rights, the senator attempted to evade the question entirely before delivering a sermon on the rights of the unborn.
Here is a video of the state senator defending his positions on these bills:
A highlight of the town hall was when Sandy Broadus, a local attorney, stood up and gave a multi-point argument against both bills. She stressed the invasiveness of the trans-vaginal ultrasound procedure, and explained how anti-choice laws and longer prison sentences would actually worsen Connecticut’s deficit. Following the town hall meeting, a crowd of students gathered around Broadus to thank her for speaking up.
The senator regards himself as a protector of women, and yet argues that adolescents do not have the emotional maturity to make their own reproductive choices. Suzio’s knowledge of the abortion process is lacking, having never heard of a Doula. Unfortunately for him, the answers to many of his concerns are provided by organizations such as Planned Parenthood. Although he did not address Planned Parenthood directly, it can be assumed that he shares the opinion of other Republican leaders. Thankfully, as one member of the audience noted, he doesn’t seem to share Donald Trump’s inability to speak in complete sentences.
Here’s a photo gallery from the town hall: