Preview and review: upcoming House hearing and votes, results of earlier hearings

On Tuesday, February 15, a House committee will hold a hearing on a medical conscience bill. Details below. What you can do: sign in online in support of the bill. Healthcare professionals, take note.

On Wednesday or Thursday, February 16 or 17, the full House will vote on a bill that was intended to gut New Hampshire’s Fetal Life Protection Act – and the House has the opportunity to adopt an amendment which would actually protect FLPA. Details below, along with a note on what will happen the same day to the abortion statistics bill. What you can do: contact your state representatives.

On Friday, February 18, the House Judiciary Committee will vote on the six life-issue bills on which they held hearings recently. Details (you guessed it) below. What you can do: contact the committee. You might be dismayed at the way the online sign-ups went on these bills. No need for dismay: let this be a spur to action.

Finally, to update an earlier post, you’ll read how the Senate voted on a pair of life-issue bills.

Tuesday, February 15: HB 1080, medical conscience

HB 1080 is relative to the rights of conscience for medical professionals. The bill’s formal analysis is clear: “This bill provides that health care providers have a right to conscientiously object to participating in providing abortion, sterilization, or artificial contraception services. The bill requires health care institutions to prominently post a notice to this effect and establishes civil remedies, including fines, for its violation.”

Bold stuff, in a state where multiple pro-abortion bills are getting respectful hearings. If you work in any healthcare-related field, your testimony – even a brief statement – is particularly important.

The hearing will be at 1 p.m. in rooms 210-211 of the Legislative Office Building (LOB) in Concord (behind the State House), with the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs (HHS) Committee. The hearing will be live-streamed on the House YouTube channel; look for the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs link.

What you can do

  • Sign in online in SUPPORT of HB 1080. You can do this anytime before the hearing at this link on the General Court website, even if you do not plan to attend the hearing. If you think you don’t have time for this, please read the section below about the sign-in totals for recent House Judiciary hearings.
  • Submit written testimony in support of HB 1080 to the House HHS Committee. You can do so online using the same link as for online sign-ins, uploading your testimony in PDF format. You may also email testimony to the committee; this address will automatically deliver your message to all 21 members: HHSEA@leg.state.nh.us
  • Attend the hearing 1 p.m. Tuesday, February 15, rooms 210-211 of the LOB. You can sign in using one of the pink cards on the committee table, and you will indicate on the card whether or not you wish to speak.

Wednesday and Thursday, February 16-17: full House in session

The House will convene at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Manchester for a two-day session. On the agenda: HB 1609, relative to the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA), New Hampshire’s 24-week abortion limitation. As reported here earlier, the House HHS committee took the bill originally intended to weaken FLPA, and amended it into a bill that leaves FLPA intact while clarifying the law’s ultrasound provision. Therefore, the committee is recommending “Ought to Pass with Amendment” (OTP/A) on HB 1609.

What you can do

Contact your state representative(s) and ask them to SUPPORT the committee recommendation of OTP/A on HB 1609. Go to http://gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/ to find your representatives’ names and contact information.

In the same session, the House is likely to follow the 20-0 recommendation of the HHS committee and send HB 1654, this year’s abortion statistics bill, to Interim Study. That will mean no passage of abortion statistics this year. Overturning a unanimous committee recommendation is near-impossible without support from the bill’s sponsors. Sponsor Rep. Beth Folsom (R-Milford) has noted optimistically that work will continue: once in Interim Study, the bill will be sent to a subcommittee for review and a determination whether such legislation should be considered in a future session. We’ve seen this movie before, so to speak…and I will watch any study committee to see what kind of recommendations it produces.

Photo of Rep. Niki Kelsey, New Hampshire state representative, at a hearing. Photo by Beth Scaer.
Rep. Niki Kelsey, chief sponsor HB 1625, buffer zone repeal. Beth Scaer photo.

Friday, February 18: House Judiciary Committee votes

After hearings on six life-issue bills last week, the House Judiciary Committee will vote on all of them in executive session on February 18 in rooms 206-208 of the LOB, beginning at 9 a.m. Location is subject to change. The session will be live-streamed on the House YouTube Channel; look for the Judiciary link.

What you can do

Email the Judiciary Committee to recommend “Ought to Pass” votes on the bills you choose to support. Refer to my earlier post for a list of bills and descriptions. Remember that this committee doesn’t break down cleanly on party lines where life issues are concerned, so don’t take anyone’s vote for granted. Email address: HouseJudiciaryCommittee@leg.state.nh.us

Photo of committee hearing in New Hampshire's Representatives Hall. Beth Scaer photo.
House Judiciary Committee, meeting in Representatives Hall. Beth Scaer photo.

Early sign-ins demand a response

What will the committee members see when they look at the electronic sign-ins? Numbers that skew heavily pro-abortion and anti-First Amendment. A sampling:

HB 1477, heartbeat bill: 85 support, 2840 oppose.

HB 1625, buffer zone repeal: 148 support, 2302 oppose, 1 neutral.

CACR 18, to codify abortion in the New Hampshire constitution: 1446 support, 135 oppose. At the hearing on this bill, supporters said it was about reproductive freedom, not abortion. The chief sponsor even said it would bar forced abortions. She might want to find a way of doing that without forcing mandatory public funding of abortion, which would be one effect of CACR 18 as introduced.

HB 1673, repealing the Fetal Life Protection Act (thus returning to an abortion-until-birth public policy): 1544 support, 373 oppose.

Your brief, courteous, pro-life email message to committee members is sorely needed.

Review of Senate action

A couple of weeks back, the Senate voted on SB 399, which like the House’s HB 1609 would effectively gut the Fetal Life Protection Act. The Senate did exactly what the House HHS Committee is recommending for the House version: amended the bill to protect FLPA and clarify its ultrasound provision. The party-line vote on OTP/A (GOP majority) was 14-10, following a 3-2 vote by the Judiciary Committee. The Senate Journal for that day (February 3), beginning on page 101, shows that an attempted amendment to make eugenic abortion legal under FPLA was killed by a single vote, with Sen. Erin Hennessey (R-Littleton) joining Democrats. She also voted with Democrats on the bill’s final version, but after a reconsideration motion by Republican Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), she switched her vote. Result: 14-10.

The Senate tabled SB 436, “access to abortion care.” Passage failed on a 12-12 tie, with Senators Hennessey and Bradley joining Democrats in favoring the bill. (See Senate Journal, February 3, p. 106-7.)

Have you bookmarked your 2022 legislative tool kit? Refer to it whenever you have something to say to your representatives in Concord.

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