So now, stats are valuable

Abortion statistics bills have been defeated numerous times in the New Hampshire legislature. This is so in spite of strong efforts by pro-life activists who want to ensure that stats collection will respect the privacy of individual women. Nope, can’t be done, say stats opponents.

Which brings us to a tweet today from the State House reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

That’s something to keep in mind the next time an abortion statistics bill is introduced. The same “Democratic leaders” (and any likeminded Republicans) calling for COVID-19-positive stats “which wouldn’t invade personal privacy” could explain their aversion to abortion stats subject to the same privacy protections.

At a minimum, I would think that the extent of post-abortion morbidity and mortality would be something worth tracking. That hasn’t gained much traction in Concord yet.

Maybe COVID will prompt some reconsideration about what it takes to collect and report aggregate public health data that protects individual privacy.

These “rallies” are sure to make the news

Next Saturday, October 2, rallies for “abortion justice” (Planned Parenthood’s term, not mine) will be held in various cities across the nation. Six of them will be in New Hampshire. Per PPNH Action Fund’s Facebook post, the event will be a “demonstration of our collective uprising…continuing to fight to defend access to abortion care.”

You can find that post on Facebook yourself. I choose not to link to it.

I expect this will result in front-page Sunday news coverage for those who still read printed news. It will result in immediate news stories online. Watch for reactions from various public officials (and would-be public officials).

New Hampshire’s 24-week abortion limitation, due to go into effect January 1, is certainly one prompt for pro-abortion demonstrations. So is Texas’s so-called heartbeat law. So is the Dobbs case, involving pro-life legislation in Mississippi, which will be argued at the U.S. Supreme Court in December with a decision to follow a few months later.

The Dobbs case accounts for the timing of these rallies: the Supreme Court will convene for its 2021-22 session two days later, on the first Monday in October.

Perhaps news coverage of these rallies will include a deep dive into what constitutes “abortion care” or “abortion justice.” In case it doesn’t, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Abortion is not health care. It’s the intentional induced termination of a human life. Oddly, given the claims I’ve heard many times in legislative hearings about abortion being some kind of medical event, there’s no statute in New Hampshire of which I’m aware requiring that medical personnel be involved in any abortion. Chemical or drug-induced or “medical” abortion might be one exception, although on regulatory rather than statutory grounds, due to the need for a prescription

New Hampshire does not keep track of abortion statistics and report aggregate non-identifying data to the federal Centers for Disease Control, unlike nearly every other state in the Union. Anyone who calls a stats law a threat to “abortion justice” needs to take up the matter with the CDC, which has published abortion surveillance data for decades.

New Hampshire has an unenforced buffer zone law, passed at the behest of abortion advocates who want to prevent any demonstration outside abortion facilities. Under the law, abortion facility managers may determine the time and location of activities on public sidewalks within 25 feet of the facility. The law draws no distinction between peaceful pro-life witness and violent confrontation. It does not require that laws against trespass or harassment be enforced before First Amendment rights are abrogated. No wonder the law’s unenforced. Would repeal of that buffer zone law represent a threat to “abortion justice”? Take that up with the U.S. Supreme Court, which unanimously struck down a very similar Massachusetts law, on narrow grounds. Even Justice Ginsburg joined that decision.

Respecting the dignity and value of each human life from conception onward is still a step too far for some of my neighbors who are drawn to phrases like “abortion justice” and “access to abortion.” We’ll get there, I hope. In the meantime, consider this: how much justice is there in not requiring medical involvement in abortion, or in failing to collect and report abortion data to the CDC, or in trying to abrogate First Amendment rights of public, peaceful, prayerful pro-life witnesses?

Rallies come and go, and these abortion-advocacy gatherings will be no different. If they leave anything in their wake, I hope it will be the jarring impression left by the oxymoron “abortion justice.”

Exec Council to vote on contracts with PP etc.: 2021 edition

Family planning contracts are back before the New Hampshire Executive Council. Several of the contractors are abortion providers, although the contracts in question are not for abortion “services.” Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the Equality Center, and the Joan G. Lovering Center are up for contract renewal.

You can find contract details on the Executive Council website. Click on the hyperlinked item 9j on the agenda for the 9/15/21 Council meeting.

Agenda for 9/15/21 Council meeting (see item 9j)

The recently-passed state budget has some specific language about contracts with abortion providers. See pages 13 and 14 of HB 2, signed into law earlier this year. A couple of highlights: no family planning funds may be used for abortion, directly or indirectly (emphasis added); and the state may inspect contractors’ records to ensure compliance. At this point, there hasn’t been time for any such audit.

If you wish to register your opinion on these contracts or contractors, contact information for Councilors is available on the Council’s website. On the same page, you can click on each District number to see a list of the District’s towns.

If you wish to attend the Council meeting, note that it will not be held at the State House this time. District Five Councilor Dave Wheeler is hosting the September 15 meeting at St. Joseph’s Academic Center in Nashua, 5 Woodward Ave., next to St. Joseph Hospital. The meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m.

Pro-life policies in state budget: victory with an expiration date (UPDATED)

Update, 7/8/21: I am indebted to an attorney well-versed in pro-life policy who called me out on claiming that the language cited below would expire in two years. Instead, I’ll try for more clarity: it’s possible that it might not survive the next budget process. More about that below, in boldface.

For the first time since 1997, New Hampshire has a law limiting late-term abortion. Well, we’ll have one as of next January 1, and it may only be good – I said “may” – until the expiration of the budget on June 30, 2023. Still, after nearly a quarter-century, the Granite State will move ahead past the era of unregulated abortion.

I wondered if flipping the House and Senate would make a difference. Turns out it did.

It has taken me a couple of weeks to process this news. It’s stunning to me, as someone who was an activist even before 1997, to see this victory. Our pro-choice governor kept the word he gave in 2016. Pro-life reps worked to get pro-life language into the budget, after the Senate stalled a freestanding bill that would have done the job. Some pro-life budget conferees – who were Republicans, as it happens – wouldn’t let the provision be tossed out during budget negotiations.

We still don’t have abortion statistics, or a requirement that only medical personnel provide abortions (remember that the next time someone tells you abortion is a private “medical” decision), or conscience protection for health care workers who choose not to participate in the direct intentional termination of human life.

We can bet that the pro-life provisions in this budget will be up for debate and rejection in two years when the next budget is crafted. We can bet that the people promoting unregulated abortion will be fighting back, and in fact are doing so already.

So who wants it more? Do pro-life Granite Staters want to build on this victory?

Continue reading “Pro-life policies in state budget: victory with an expiration date (UPDATED)”