The Real Story Behind Our Victory
We are pleased to announce that SB 1076, the Assisted Suicide Bill, died in the Judiciary Committee last week. This marks a solid decade of victory for FIC Action and our allies, having defeated assisted suicide every year now since 2013.
But 2023 was no ordinary victory. It may have been our biggest win yet against assisted suicide.
CT News Junkie reports that Judiciary Committee co-chair Sen. Gary Winfield told them “there was not even close to enough support among the committee members to pass the bill.” The other co-chair, Rep. Steve Stafstrom, said essentially the same thing in his public remarks.
To understand why the comments of Winfield and Stafstrom are so important, consider the history of the assisted suicide fight in Connecticut this past decade. From 2013-20, assisted suicide never passed a single committee. 2021 (when we were forbidden to testify in person) began a new pattern: assisted suicide passes the Public Health Committee every year only to die in the Judiciary Committee.
But because of how it died in 2022, our opponents claimed a moral victory of sorts. A parliamentary maneuver killed the bill without a vote by the full committee. The pro-assisted suicide lobby has claimed ever since that they were somehow cheated out of a win.
Thanks to the public comments by both Judiciary Committee co-chairs, we now know that claim to be false. Either that or opposition to assisted suicide on the Judiciary Committee has actually increased just since last year. However you slice it, our win against assisted suicide is bigger than it was last year and perhaps our biggest yet.
But why would that be? Again, consider the words of the co-chairs themselves.
Rep. Stastrom made three important points as reported by The Hartford Courant.
First, “Stafstrom said one of his biggest frustrations is the perception that religion influenced the outcome.” Recall that Rep. Stafstrom was specifically targeted by the assisted suicide lobby last year because of his Catholic faith. The frequent attacks on people’s faith seem to have backfired on pro-assisted suicide activists.
Second, “Stafstrom said after caucusing, that the votes needed to pass S.B. 1076 did not come down to ‘one or two people’ in the committee.” We take this to be an oblique reference to Sen. Mae Flexer, a liberal Democrat whose vote against assisted suicide last year caused her to be unfairly tarred by proponents as the sole reason the bill failed. Again, the Greta Thunberg-like “How dare you?” obnoxiousness of some assisted suicide proponents, toward those who disagree, has a tendency to backfire on them.
But of all the points Rep. Stafstrom made, this was the most important: “[W]e saw legislative efforts and litigation efforts in other states to undo many of the protections we tried to put in this bill.” This is exactly what FIC Action president Peter Wolfgang has been trying to say for at least four years (see Peter’s 2019 testimony at the 7:00 mark and Peter’s 2023 testimony at the 4:25 mark). 2023 was the year when the bait-and-switch issue finally popped, when legislators realized that what the assisted suicide lobby calls “safeguards” in Connecticut they call “barriers” in states where they are attempting to expand assisted suicide.
Even Sen. Winfield, a strong supporter of assisted suicide, inadvertently made this point.
With tears rolling down his face, Winfield recalled the death of his mother as he decried the bill’s defeat. But Winfield also mentioned that if the bill had been law while his mother was alive, it would not have affected the timing of her death. In other words, his mother would not have qualified for assisted suicide under this bill.
We have seen this repeatedly. That is, emotional testimony from proponents about the death of loved ones whose deaths would have been unaffected by the bill.
This is not a small thing. It is not a logical fallacy. It is not a phony display.
It is a “tell.”
At moments like this, proponents are unwittingly signaling their true intentions. That, despite their many dismissals of our arguments, the slippery slope is exactly what they intend. That, once this first bill becomes law, they will indeed come back so that those like Winfield’s mother, or similarly situated people, can qualify for assisted suicide by the second or third assisted suicide law they pass.
FIC Action is respectful of the sincere pain displayed by both sides in the assisted suicide debate. We were falsely accused of being insensitive to that pain by Public Health Committee co-chair Sen. Saud Anwar for using the word “props” in a message to our members prior to the public hearing. But here is the full context in which we used the word:
“Our hearts go out to those being used as props for Big Suicide. This is not about pain, which can be managed. This is about taking advantage of vulnerable people so as to line the pockets of an organization that aspires to be the Planned Parenthood of assisted suicide. It is ultimately about population control, the poor at the expense of the rich.”
We stand by it. Again, the pain is sincere. But the dismissal of a slippery slope is not. Those who argue that there is no slippery slope are not arguing in good faith. The Judiciary Committee can see that. It is what killed the bill.
Sen. Anwar’s misrepresentation of FIC Action’s email message to our own members was just the tip of the iceberg for the Public Health Committee. The Committee completely ignored the arguments of progressive and disability rights opponents of assisted suicide the day they voted to advance the bill. They pretended the only objections to assisted suicide were religious ones and they didn’t even get those arguments right. Most egregious of all was Rep. Michele Cook’s ill-informed decision to quote the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche while casting a vote in favor of assisted suicide. You have to read Cathy Ludlum’s op-ed to appreciate just how bad the Public Health Committee’s reasoning was on the day it voted to advance assisted suicide.
This was a lot of ground to cover in explaining the significance of our victory against assisted suicide this year. It was necessary to do so because you will not hear about it anywhere else. Not to this degree.
We are grateful to all our allies who joined with us to defeat assisted suicide this year. We are especially grateful to the legislators who heard us and did the right thing. We hope those intent on doing the wrong thing will at least listen to our arguments next time.
And there will be a next time. Which is why we are most grateful to you, our members. You are the ones who understand that assisted suicide is bad public policy that puts vulnerable populations at risk. Against a culture of death on both the left and the right, you are the ones who have powered our ability to speak for the lives of the vulnerable.
FIC Action will continue to do it so long as we have your support. This victory ultimately belongs to God and to all of you. Thank you!