Protecting Obamacare at all costs: Shea-Porter, free pills, and religious liberty

Originally published on this blog October 1, 2013. It remains timely, with Ms. Shea-Porter on the ballot once again next Tuesday.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH1). Facebook photo.
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH1). Facebook photo.

On the How They’re Doing in D.C. scoreboard, I hereby give a point to Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter for answering her mail promptly. I then deduct ten for the content of her message.

As a resident of New Hampshire’s First Congressional district, I emailed Shea-Porter as a “government shutdown” loomed, involving funding for the president’s health care law. I told her that voting to fund government operations while withholding funding from Obamacare was fine with me. Her reply was in my inbox a few short hours later.

From the desk of CSP

Here’s the relevant portion of her message. I’ve added some bold-face emphasis.

“Last weekend, the House of Representatives voted on a Continuing Resolution that contained multiple provisions that had nothing to do with keeping the government operational. That version of the bill, which I voted against on September 29th, included a provision that would allow any employer or insurer to refuse to cover any health care services they might object to.  This would give unprecedented control over personal healthcare decisions to employers and insurers, allowing them to deny coverage for important women’s preventive health services, including HPV testing to prevent cervical cancer, domestic violence screening and counseling, and birth control.”

Like the president whose water she’s carrying, she conceded no good will to people like me who see the down side of the “Affordable” Care Act. That makes her next sentence a punch line, albeit a lousy one.

“I stand ready to work with my Republican and Democratic colleagues on finding common ground and getting things moving here in Washington.” 

I guess the First Amendment doesn’t qualify as common ground.

One of these things is not like the others … 

Note her email’s smooth blend of HPV testing, domestic violence counseling, and birth control. All are “women’s preventive health services,” according to Shea-Porter, reading from the HHS playbook. That term is the source of the HHS mandate, that outrage against the First Amendment, beside which Obamacare’s other flaws pale in comparison.

When the Department of Health and Human Services came up with regulations (in excess of 15,000 pages so far) to enforce the ACA, it defined certain “preventive” services required to be included in every health insurance plan. Those preventive services are to be provided at no cost to a covered individual, meaning no co-pay, meaning in turn that the costs are actually shared by everyone enrolled in the plan.

HPV testing is a way to monitor for cervical cancer (although it can’t prevent it, contrary to what CSP wrote; perhaps she meant Gardasil injections). So far, so good. Domestic violence counseling can prevent injury to women. Still good, although it is a puzzle to me why such counseling isn’t classified as preventive service for men as well. And that brings us to the third example of a “preventive” service cited by my congressional representative: birth control for women. It can prevent pregnancy, which under the psychedelic terms of the ACA is right up there with cancer and violence on the list of Things To Be Prevented. Men’s fertility doesn’t rate the same level of caution under the law.

My religion, among others, holds as an article of faith that human life is sacred and that fertility is not a disease. There is a sharp and clear line between contraception and health care. Further, my religion holds that contraception and abortion-inducing drugs are not only not health care but are evils to be rejected. A law that mandates that I help provide those things for other people, on pain of fines or other sanctions, is therefore an attack on my First Amendment right of religious liberty. This is true whether I am acting as a private individual or as a business owner.

If only the President and Secretary Sebelius hadn’t insisted on that “preventive” designation, we wouldn’t be having our disagreement. Up until that mandate, I had no constitutional problem with my neighbor buying her own birth control pills, since she didn’t reach into my pocket for help paying for them. Under Obamacare, such a live-and-let-live attitude is no longer consistent with public policy. In the President’s world, as in Shea-Porter’s, free birth control for women is on the same level as caring for my sick child or my ailing elders.

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“Unprecedented control”

In Shea-Porter’s view, it’s imperative that employers with religious objections to contraception be forced to subsidize it anyway. She thinks that affording such people freedom of conscience would amount to “unprecedented control” over a woman’s health care decisions.

Forcing an employer to pay for birth control pills is an “unprecedented control” of its own.

I take from this that Shea-Porter believes free pills must somehow trump religious liberty. Perhaps I take too dim a view.  HHS Secretary Sebelius, when asked about the HHS mandate last year, couldn’t square it with religious liberty beyond saying, “I’m not a lawyer and I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of the constitutional balancing tests.” Madam Secretary is apparently not the only Washington denizen who has trouble with nuance. The difference between health care and health coverage, between choice and mandate, between cancer screening and fertility suppression: all are lost on my congressional representative.

“Extreme measures”

“We should start by passing a clean Continuing Resolution that funds the government, without attaching extreme measures to defund, delay, or erode the ACA.”

So what extreme measures might those be? Or are all measures extreme that interfere with Obamacare? Is there a moderate measure I can ask for – common ground, if you will – that will persuade Shea-Porter to give the First Amendment its due vis-a-vis the HHS mandate?

There was no time in our brief email exchange to explore those questions. I suspect she considers all opposition to ACA “extreme,” but again, I may be taking too dim a view.

This I know: the HHS mandate seeks to make every American complicit in the suppression of women’s fertility as a public health priority. Free pills on the house, so to speak. That’s extreme.

The shutdown

My email from Shea-Porter came just a short time after President Obama claimed “The Affordable Care Act is moving forward….[it] is a law that voters chose not to repeal last November.” Voters who stayed home last November 6, for whatever reason, have much to answer for. But here we are.

The government is “shut down” as I write, meaning no PandaCam or hikes in Yosemite, although the microphones in Washington seem to be operating at full power. Each party blames the other.  As an independent voter, I am weary of that. What is absolutely clear to me is that Obamacare partisans like my congressional representative are fully committed to putting the HHS mandate ahead of every other priority in the budget.

In her email, Shea-Porter defended the HHS mandate without calling it by name. She added insult to injury by ignoring the good faith of people who have religious objections to it. She professes the Catholic faith, as do I. She is following her conscience without recognizing my right to follow my own.

I’ll support any measure that forces reconsideration of Obamacare. Its carveouts are unacceptable; it chills expansion of small businesses; its early cost estimates are already looking ridiculously low. Any one of those issues should be enough to trigger delay and reappraisal. Important as they are, none of those flaws are as bad as the HHS mandate. It must be torn up, thrown out, disavowed. I refuse to choose between health care and the First Amendment. I want them both and I won’t settle for less.

Another defensive election race: Governor

Walt Havenstein ( photo)
Walt Havenstein ( photo)

One office, two candidates, both self-identified “pro-choice.” Welcome to New Hampshire’s 2014 election. I’m not thinking about the Senate race, though. This is about Maggie Hassan and Walt Havenstein and who’s going to be the next Governor of the Granite State.

Hassan: see “buffer zone” and “EMILY’s List.” There’s more, but that’s plenty.

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I had a chance to ask Walt Havenstein one question recently: if a repeal of the buffer zone law were to land on his desk, would he sign it? His answer was yes.

There was no time for followup questions in the situation. Would he sign a Massachusetts-style repeal-and-replace, or would he just be happy with straight repeal? A lot would depend on what passed out of the House and Senate first, I imagine. All I could take away from our one Q & A was a sense of relief and the knowledge that he hasn’t been conditioned to put the wishes of abortion providers ahead of the First Amendment.

I’m casting my vote in this race as a defensive one, as I plan to do in the Senate race, because the incumbents need to be retired. Defense feels pretty good when its success means stepping away from a law so awful that even the people who sponsored it and fought to pass it aren’t willing to demand its enforcement. Just get the wretched law off the books.

NH CD2: Kuster uses graveyard theme to accept pro-abortion group’s endorsement; pro-life women speak out for Garcia

Call this a tale of two press conferences. This week, a pair of endorsements came out in the Second Congressional District race between incumbent Ann Kuster and challenger Marilinda Garcia. Quite a contrast.

Kuster stands in front of symbol of death to accept abortion advocates’ endorsement

NARAL-NH has endorsed Ann Kuster for re-election. That was altogether predictable. What I couldn’t have predicted is that a member of Congress would think it clever to stand in front of a skeleton figure while accepting an endorsement for her abortion advocacy. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I need say no more about this.

Congresswomen Ann Kuster (D-NH) accepts NARAL endorsement, 10/20/14.
Congresswomen Ann Kuster (D-NH) accepts NARAL endorsement, 10/20/14. Photo from Cornerstone PAC press release

Pro-life women join Women Speak Out PAC to support Marilinda Garcia

A couple of days ahead of the Kuster spectacle, Women Speak Out PAC announced a $50,000 independent-expenditure ad buy in support of Marilinda Garcia. Women Speak Out PAC is a partner of the Susan B. Anthony List, which is dedicated to electing pro-life women and promoting pro-life legislation at state and federal levels. Three New Hampshire women from the Second Congressional District spoke at a press conference kicking off the ad campaign. They are pushing back on Ann Kuster’s pro-abortion message.

Marilyn Musgrave, representing Women Speak Out PAC, called Garcia “a strong young woman who is courageous, who opposes taxpayer funding of abortion, who knows that banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy is the compassionate thing to do.”

College student re Kuster: “By  refusing to protect the next generation, she is hurting my generation.”

Sarah Koski
Sarah Koski

Sarah Koski is a college student and a voter in Ann Kuster’s district. She wonders if she even registers on Kuster’s radar. “Ann Kuster and her friends have fabricated this lie that somehow leading a successful life as a young woman is completely incompatible with being a pro-life conservative Republican. This is untrue. I am one of many women who respect the sanctity of life at every stage. Ann Kuster does not represent me.

“She says that she cares about us and that she’s going to protect our rights. But in reality, she treats me like I lack the capacity to have a life outside of myself. That’s not the kind of representation that I want. We know that abortion kills innocent children. We also know that it hurts women. We need to make sure that we band together and make sure that we reveal this truth about Ann Kuster: by refusing to protect the next generation, she is hurting my generation. I think it’s high time that this demeaning attitude towards women come to an end.”

Koski is looking forward to entering the post-college job market. She has started giving serious consideration to what paycheck deductions are about. Just what, she wonders, are our representatives doing with that money? “Ann Kuster’s fiscal record is very clear. As it pertains to abortion, she voted against the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act. Which means that she’s in favor of letting my money be used to fund abortions on demand. I’m not alone in this concern. The majority of Americans, 72% of Americans, believe that we should not allow our tax money to go towards funding abortions on demand. 72% agree that it is wrong for my representative to take my money and use it to fund something that I fundamentally disagree with and find immoral. The good news is that we have the opportunity to change that this November. We have an opportunity to send a new voice to Washington. And I sincerely hope you will join me in that effort.”

Garcia “would be a champion for life … Ann Kuster is not our champion.”

Margaret Carnahan at podium with Karen Testerman (dark jacket), Christine Peters (center), and Rep. Jeanine Notter (right front)
Margaret Carnahan at podium with Karen Testerman (dark jacket), Christine Peters (center), and Rep. Jeanine Notter (right front)

Margaret Carnahan of Concord is one CD2 voter who is tired of being represented by an abortion extremist. “I cannot say [Kuster] represents me. When the opportunity came for the Congresswoman to show a compassionate way to protect unborn babies five months and older in the womb, she chose not to support that legislation” – the Unborn Child Pain-Capable Act, a post-20-week abortion ban. “Worse, she voted no, she would not protect unborn babies, even though the babies were old enough to recognize their mothers’ voices and to feel pain.Carnahan spoke of a friend’s child born at 30 weeks. “One pound thirteen ounces. When I went to the NICU and saw all the micro-preemie babies, my heart went out to them. We saw one little boy named Jacob, born at 22 and a half weeks gestation. He was fighting for life. What we learned from seeing Jacob and Isabella is that a baby looks when outside the womb the same as when inside the womb – a complete living human being. I saw the tenacity to live. They needed a protector and a champion to speak on their behalf.

“Ann Kuster is not our champion and she is not a protector of the unborn child. She does not reflect our values. She does not reflect our compassionate heart. Marilinda Garcia would be a champion for life, who would reflect a woman’s heart towards life.”

“I’m beginning to think a little bit differently about what our daughters face”

New Hampshire women who vote pro-life have a message for Ann Kuster.
New Hampshire women who vote pro-life have a message for Ann Kuster.

Christine Peters of Amherst is the mother of four. She says her daughter’s about to become a teenager, “so I’m beginning to think  little bit differently about the issue of Planned Parenthood [whose PAC backs Kuster] and choice and what my daughters face for messaging that’s being targeted toward them.” She added that her own experience as a CareNet crisis pregnancy center volunteer broadened her pro-life perspective. “I began to change how I thought about it. It became a little less about the babies – although I’m in favor of saving babies – and more about those women who are facing crisis pregnancies. When you look at Ann Kuster, you cannot call her pro-choice. She is 100% pro-abort. There is no choice for women who walk into Planned Parenthood. That is the war on women and our unborn. Send extremist Ann Kuster into retirement and give Marilinda Garcia a chance to reflect a view that will prepare the way for our daughters, giving them the choices they really truly need.”

For more information about Women Speak Out PAC, go to You can read more about the Susan B. Anthony List at



How they’ve voted: 2014 state senate & state rep candidates


Here for your consideration: a list of all the candidates for New Hampshire General Court (House & Senate), along with how they voted on selected life-issue bills going back to 2003. The eleven PDF documents cover the state senate races plus House races in all ten counties. This is not a complete listing of life-issue bills, and this is not a list of endorsements.  I have not surveyed candidates for their comments. This is strictly about votes.

If you don’t know the district in which you reside, call your town or city clerk or consult the Secretary of State’s web site. The same sources can also provide you with a sample ballot before the election so you can look at your choices before Election Day, November 4.

I’ve compiled this information from online records ( and I’m responsible for any errors in transcription. Please email me ( if you spot a mistake.

State Senate: [gview file=””%5D

Belknap County: [gview file=””%5D

Carroll County: [gview file=””%5D

Cheshire County: [gview file=””%5D

Coos County: [gview file=””%5D

Grafton County: [gview file=””%5D

Hillsborough County: [gview file=””%5D

Merrimack County: [gview file=””%5D

Rockingham County: [gview file=””%5D

Strafford County: [gview file=””%5D

Sullivan County: [gview file=””%5D

Poll result: The natives are restless

A hundred and sixteen people chimed in on Leaven for the Loaf’s unscientific poll about the U.S. Senate race. It’s fair to say that no consensus emerged.

If the election for U.S. Senate were held today, for whom would you vote?

  • Scott Brown 31.03%
  • Jeanne Shaheen 1.72% (two whole votes!)

And that leaves 67.25% who are not going to back either of the major candidates. It’s a close race, if the real polls are to be believed. Someone’s going to be sorry about not attracting those pro-life votes. Or maybe – and this might be a stretch – someone’s already getting ready to whine about how social conservatives cost the Republican a seat.

(Just a thought: If social conservatives in general and pro-lifers in particular are truly valued by a candidate, they won’t be treated as scapegoats.)

How about the two-thirds of poll respondents who didn’t pick Shaheen or Brown?

  • Write in an unspecified pro-life candidate: 22.41%
  • Write in an unspecified candidate for an issue other than life: 12.93%
  • Leave that spot on the ballot blank: 6.9%
  • Other (specified): 25%

Interesting collection of “others”: 16 votes for John Stark (the gang at GraniteGrok will be happy to hear this), 3 votes for John Langdon (ditto), 4 for Bob Smith, two “write in None of the Above,” two “holding my nose” (but then voting for whom???), one for Russ Payne, and one “hate Brown, hate Shaheen more.” Make of that what you will.