I had waited impatiently all summer for Rep Joe Courtney to email me about Town Hall on health care. I wanted to express my opposition to a plan which not only forces taxpayers to pay for abortions, but would most likely deny medical care for my daughter with Down syndrome and my mother with stage four cancer.
Courtney had telephone town halls, secret invitation-only town halls, but finally in Montville, CT, on September 2, he was to have a real live town hall, everyone invited. I mean everyone. A pro-life friend forwarded this email to me which shows who was organizing union members to represent the Democratic interest in health care plan HR3200. When I arrived at 6PM, later than I had planned, the parking lot of the high school was overflowing, and men and women with serious, determined looks were heading for the school. Arriving at the front door, a vociferous group of union organizers wearing "Health Care Now" stickers, holding professional banners, had their slogans going, shouting at people entering the school. No one was intimidated, Rep Courtney followed me in and I turned to him angrily and said, "they are being paid to be here".
He denied that union members were paid to show up, and was rushed past my by his handlers.
In line to enter the auditorium, I told a group of teachers (don't ask me how I knew, I have been teaching for 20 years, I just know) "I'm a teacher, I got the memo too" they nodded approvingly till they read my sign which said, "Abortion is not health care". Then, they cut me in line. The auditorium was already full after I was on line for only five minutes. Soon the police turned the rest of us away, stating fire regulations, telling us to meet Courtney in the cafeteria after the main talk. No one indicated where the cafeteria was, however.
We milled around outside with the few union members assigned to cover the door, and catch media cameras, fuming over the injustice of being crowded out by the organized AstroTurf left. I met members of my parish, my pro-life group, and members of a Tea Party group, Free Norwich. Soon rumors spread that people were being let into the auditorium as participants left, and a lady who had never participated in a political rally before, joined me in seeking entrance into King Courtney's presence. I mentioned to his assistants, that if he had an adequate number of health care town halls, that crowd control would not be a problem. Once inside, it became apparent that opponents of health care outnumbered union organizers three to one. Intelligent questions were asked and typical political doublespeak was given in response.
Some summaries from the Free Norwich website.
A young small business owner asks the Congressman to address his queries. Someone behind him calls him out and he says “f@# you”. States control the angry small business owner and seat him to listen to his response. He had the peace of mind to prepare his hands in the “cuff me” position. The officer was kind and professional and let business continue without an unnecessary arrest. ( This man was a union agitator with a big smirk on his face. He had spent the entire time making derisive cracks about the opposition, and deliberately made the young business owner lose control of his mouth. It's their modus operendi. my comment)
Representative Courtney took every question and answered, but not always directly. In fact, after most dissenting questions, the crowed asked AGAIN for the answer to the question.
A lady from Germany encouraged Rep. Courtney to move ahead with the program because European countries have full Socialized Medicine. Several member of the crowd encouraged her to return to Germany (…or explore Cuba).
One gentleman to my left told the Congressman to not adhere to the desires of the population in the room as they represent only 1% of his constituents. He asked how he can help convince his friends to get on board with the program. Mr. Courtney said that the letters to the editor, Internet and other means were being used and appropriate (response summarized).
You can see several of the questions posted on my site on YouTube. Although tensions ran high, and opponents of the health care plan were downplayed by the Norwich Bulletin at first, but the statement in Paragraph 2 was later amended to admit the crowd skewed against health care. It was a 75-25% split, most of the union people looked like the radicals you see arrested at World Bank protests, and the opponents were seniors, first time protesters, and pro-lifers like myself, including Sue Williams from the Diocese of Norwich Respect Life Office and Linda Hayes of Carenet crisis pregnancy center. Sue was confronting union members in the parking lot, asking them how they could vote for a man (Obama) who voted to have infants born alive in aborition procedure, suffocate to death without medical care. She said, "this is the man you trust to provide YOU with health care, when he denied it to them?" Excellent point.
My sign "abortion is NOT health care" got many more approving than disapproving stares and comments. A pro-Obama woman asked me what abortion had to do with the healthcare bill and I asked her why the Democrats voted against an amendment prohibiting abortion's inclusion in the bill. "As a lawyer's daughter, I know well that if you don't exclude something from a law, silence is consent, it's included."
It was exhilarating being a bit rowdy, standing ovations against health care were abundant, and whenever the koolaid was being poured by Courtney, we booed. He told us not to worry about the annual discussions between patient and doctor; ie Death Panels. He told us not to worry about insurance companies being driven out of business, and us being forced into Obamacare.
But we ARE worried about his leadership, straight out of the Democratic playbook.
Our only hope as Catholics who defend the right to life of the unborn, the elderly and the disabled is continued action.