Observing a Republican “take on” his party

I wonder if New Hampshire Republicans take exception to this: “Chris Sununu took on own party for women’s health.” That statement is featured in a television ad now running, a week before the election.

screenshot of TV ad, November 2016
screenshot of TV ad, November 2016

Looking at you, GOP. What are you – against women’s health? Why else would your own gubernatorial candidate say he “took on [his] own party” over women’s health? 

Nasty implication there, bordering on a smear of Republicans, if Sununu’s statement is taken at face value.

But let’s be serious. Sununu’s talking about his Executive Council votes to give contracts to Planned Parenthood. That one vote he cast against a contract in 2015 appears more and more like an aberration, wiped from the slate by his do-over last June.

Candidate Sununu now abuses the term “women’s health” the same way his opposite number in the Democratic party does: equating taxpayer money to PP with “women’s health.”

I was at the Executive Council meetings where the last two PP contracts were considered. Neither of the Councilors now running for governor queried the commissioner of health and human services about doing business with a vendor that publicly threatened women with loss of health care if a contract were denied while at the same time spending well over a million bucks on “public policy”, fundraising, and marketing.

Now, both candidates for governor are touting their “women’s health” credentials, debasing the term by using it as code for taxpayer funding of abortion providers. One candidate has now implied that his own party is an obstacle to women’s health – at least that’s how the ad sounds to this independent voter. The other party’s candidate ought to be drafting a thank-you note to Sununu right about now.

It’s not my business how a party’s candidate characterizes his or her own party, since I am what is known in the Granite State as “undeclared.” This ad is a curious thing, though. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s received by voters and by Sununu’s fellow GOP candidates.

Voting records: Hillsborough County state reps, 2015-16

Find below the links to voting records cast by New Hampshire state representatives from Hillsborough County on selected bills on which I’ve reported in the past session, 2015-16. No scores or endorsements – just votes.

VOTE on November 8. Do not be dissuaded by the choices at the top of the ticket, if you share my aversion to the lot of them. Downballot is where policies will be made and enforced, for good or ill. Let’s get to work.

Each hyperlink will take you to the bill’s roll call.

  • HB 1399, requiring licensure of outpatient abortion facilities
  • HB 1570, buffer zone repeal
  • HB 1623, prohibiting abortions for genetic abnormalities (eugenic abortion)
  • HB 1625, limiting post-viability abortions
  • HB 1627, relative to infants born alive after attempted abortion
  • HB 1636, limiting abortions past the point at which the fetus can feel pain
  • HB 1663, prohibiting buying, selling, and experimenting on aborted fetal remains
  • HB 1684, prohibiting the use of public funds, employees and facilities  in assisting or performing abortions
  • HB 194, acknowledging the personhood of the unborn human being
  • HB 560, Griffin’s Law/fetal homicide, as introduced by Rep. Rideout (more on fetal homicide legislation here)
  • HB 670, conscience rights for medical personnel

Former representatives running again

Several ex-representatives from Hillsborough County are trying to get back into office.  Before the 2014 election, I made a compilation of votes similar to the one I’ve posted here, and many of these former reps are listed. Go to the 2014 post “How They’ve Voted” to view or download the Hillsborough County sheet and search for these names (here with district numbers in parentheses):

Mark Warden (8), Win Hutchinson (9),  Steve Vaillancourt (15), Brenda Grady & Bob L’Heureux (21), Shannon Chandley (22), Melanie Levesque (26), Sylvia Gale and Jan Schmidt (28), Michael Balboni (29), Mariellen MacKay (30), Linda Harriott-Gathright & Kevin Brown (36), Andy Renzullo (37).

State Senate incumbents: votes on buffer zone repeal & abortion stats

In 2016, the New Hampshire Senate considered and failed to pass bills that would have repealed the buffer zone law and established an abortion-statistics program at the state level.

The senators who managed to get those votes right and who are running for re-election deserve your consideration. These are bellwether bills: a legislator who opposes them is all but certain to be weak or hostile on the right to life.

I know there are other seats, other candidates, and fundamental pro-life policies. Today, my only concern is to list the legislators who supported stats and the First Amendment in the past term in Concord. The Senate had straight up-or-down votes on those two bills.

If you’re not sure who the candidates are in your area, you can check your Senate district number here, and then look at a sample ballot for your town to see the names of the candidates for each office.

Buffer zone

These are the incumbents running for re-election who voted ( via bill #HB 1570) to repeal the buffer zone law, thus respecting your rights and mine to demonstrate peacefully on public property outside abortion facilities. The repeal effort failed on a tie vote.

Jeb Bradley (district 3), Andy Sanborn (district 9), Gary Daniels (district 11), Kevin Avard (district 12), Sharon Carson (district 14), John Reagan (district 17), Regina Birdsell (district 19), and Chuck Morse (district 22). Some House reps who supported the same bill are running for Senate now: James Gray (district 6), Harold French (district 7), Joe Duarte (district 16), and Bill Gannon (district 23).

Reps. French and Gannon are going up against incumbents who voted the opposite way: Sen. Andrew Hosmer vs. French and Rep. Alexis Simpson vs. Gannon.

Bradley is the only senator who supported passage of the buffer zone bill in 2014 and later changed his mind. I’m glad the First Amendment eventually appealed to his better nature.

Note that Kevin Avard is being challenged for his seat by former senator Peggy Gilmour, who voted for the buffer zone law in 2014. Voters gave the seat to Avard later that year. This year’s rematch is fierce and expensive, and it could go either way.

Abortion statistics

Another tie vote doomed an abortion statistics bill (HB 629). The same senators listed above for the buffer zone supported the stats bill: Bradley, Sanborn, Daniels, Avard, Carson, Reagan, Birdsell and Morse. The House passed the bill on a voice vote, so there’s no recorded vote for candidates Gray, French, Duarte and Gannon.

A sobering total

The bills I’ve cited here don’t even assert a right to life. The buffer zone law is about denying First Amendment protections to peaceful pro-life demonstrators, and the repeal bill was an effort to rectify that error. The statistics bill was about public health, particularly women’s health. Tie votes were the best the Senate could muster for them.

The eight incumbent senators and four House candidates for Senate I’ve mentioned cover twelve districts. That’s only half the seats in the Senate. If all these candidates win, things like a stats bill might still die on a tie. If any of these candidates lose, prospects for mischief increase dramatically.

Two other districts to watch

District 18’s Donna Soucy, chief sponsor of the buffer zone law, is being challenged by former Rep. Ross Terrio, chief sponsor of the partial-birth abortion ban that became law in 2012. In district 2, an open seat, former Rep. Bob Giuda is a candidate. He served in the House over a decade ago and had a good pro-life record, including helping to pass New Hampshire’s first parental notification law.

The First Amendment and would-be Sen. Hassan

We’ve seen New Hampshire’s Governor Maggie Hassan in action for two terms. So what would a Senator Hassan look like, if she should prevail over incumbent U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte on November 8?

Look back at one policy decision ratified by Hassan in 2014: the buffer zone law.

Buffer zones and the First Amendment

New Hampshire’s buffer zone law gives abortion facility managers the right to determine whether and where the First Amendment may be exercised within 25 feet from an abortion facility.

Maggie Hassan signed the law despite the fact that a challenge to a substantially similar law from Massachusetts was pending before the Supreme Court. Two weeks after the New Hampshire law was signed, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the Massachusetts law on First Amendment grounds. Hassan continued to defend New Hampshire’s version. She still supports it, even though no abortion facility in New Hampshire has put a zone into effect, as of October 2016. The facility managers know that litigation would doom the New Hampshire law.

Hassan signed the New Hampshire measure into effect even though the Court’s First-Amendment decision on the Massachusetts law was unanimous.

That’s what Governor Hassan thinks of the First Amendment as it applies to nonviolent pro-life demonstrators. Now she wants to become Senator Hassan, with power to confirm (or refuse to confirm) nominees to federal judgeships, including Supreme Court seats.

Dodging the First Amendment 

I reported in 2014 on the form letter I received from Hassan’s office two months after I and many other people had petitioned her not to sign the bill into law. An “assistant director of citizen services” wrote back.  Hassan wouldn’t even reply over her own signature. No skin off my nose, to be sure, but I caught the dismissal.

My 2014 post includes the full text of the letter from Hassan’s assistant. Not once in the letter did the assistant director of citizen services mention the First Amendment. No mention of the Supreme Court. No mention of the Masasachusetts law or the grounds on which it had been invalidated.

Watch your language

The 2014 letter is echoed in some of the language on Hassan’s Senate campaign web site (which has a high enough search ranking already without my linking to it): all-purpose terms, equally available for misuse whether the topic is nonviolence or a Senate seat.

The following bullet points are taken directly from my 2014 post reacting to the letter from Hassan’s assistant. Listening to 2016’s campaign messages, nothing’s changed.

  • “Critical health services.” In other words, cancer screening and contraception and abortion are all “critical.” Huh? The intentional direct taking of human life has nothing to do with “health.”

  • “Access…privacy…safety.” No mention that laws are already on the books against blocking access, against harassment including invasion of privacy, against violence. That was what doomed Massachusetts’s original buffer zone law – the failure to enforce existing laws first.

  • “Affordable access to basic health care coverage is critical to the economic security of women and families.” Knowing that abortion is part of what Hassan defines as “health care,” she’s saying – excuse me, her assistant is saying – that kids are disposable if they come up short in a woman’s cost-benefit analysis.

  • “…without fearing for their safety…” In the fantasy world occupied by the Governor and supporters of the buffer zone law, people standing in silent witness outside an abortion facility are no different from people entering an abortion facility bent on murdering the employees….In the real world, peaceful witnesses have just as much reason to fear violence as do an abortion facility’s employees.

A Seat in the Balance

I have heard from many people of good will who want me to reconsider my adamant refusal to support either major presidential candidate. The shape of the Supreme Court is the usual argument.

I understand the concern. Note well, though, that presidents can only nominate judges. The Senate confirms, or refuses to confirm. It’s the firewall against presidential whackery from any party’s standardbearer.

That’s why I think New Hampshire’s Senate race is at least as important as the presidential one – more important, actually, for those of us who have no top-of-the-ticket preference.

Candidate Hassan made a ceremony out of signing the buffer zone law, and now she wants a seat in the body that confirms jurists who will rule on First Amendment cases.

This is one race where I have no problem making a choice.

Three, not two, on the ballot for Governor

The ads on television and online might leave you thinking there are only two people running for New Hampshire Governor: Democrat Colin Van Ostern and Republican Chris Sununu.

There is a third candidate on the ballot: Rep. Max Abramson of Seabrook, running as a Libertarian.  The Big Two aren’t worried about him. Still, there he is. I have not interviewed him. He has a voting record from his term as state rep, though. Rep. Abramson:

  • supported repeal of the buffer zone law (HB 1570, 3/9/16)
  • voted against “inexpedient to legislate” motions on bills to restrict post-20-week abortions (HB 1328, 3/9/16), to make abortion facilities meet the same standards as ambulatory care facilities (HB 1399, 3/9/16), to prohibit abortions on the grounds of genetic abnormalities (HB 1623, 3/9/16), and to keep taxpayer money away from abortion providers (HB 677, 2015)
  • supported a ban on post-viability abortions (HB 1625, 3/9/16)

Incumbent Executive Councilors Van Ostern and Sununu deal in contracts, not bills, so their voting records can’t be compared to Abramson’s. We know that Planned Parenthood has endorsed Mr. Van Ostern, and that both he and Mr. Sununu have voted to send our money to PP and other abortion providers.

(You DID know that, right?)