Rep. Rideout: why I’m filing Griffin’s Law

Rep. Leon Rideout (facebook.com/rideout4rep)

Rep. Leon Rideout (facebook.com/rideout4rep)

In New Hampshire, when a pregnant woman loses her preborn child to an act of violence or other wrongful act – a child she wants and has chosen to carry to term – there is no crime. The statutes have nothing to say. It would take a fetal homicide law to change that.

Such laws are in place in other states, and the New Hampshire Supreme Court in the 2009 Lamy case urged the legislature to pass one. The last effort passed House and Senate but fell to Gov. John Lynch’s veto in 2012. Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) is undeterred and is bringing back a fetal homicide bill that he’s calling Griffin’s Law. Why, when a similar bill failed so recently?

Because it’s personal. Griffin was his grandson.

I contacted Rep. Rideout recently and asked him about his bill. Here are excerpts from his written reply.

 On June 4th one of my daughters was involved in an auto accident when another driver ran a stop sign at a high rate of speed into the path of my daughter’s car. She was approximately 7½ months pregnant with Griffin…. [M]y daughter suffered serious injuries….While trying to stabilize her for a Med flight to Dartmouth, Griffin took a turn for the worse and despite an emergency C section and a 40 minute fight to resuscitate Him Griffin succumbed to injuries from the crash.
Current state law does not provide for homicide or manslaughter charges for the death of a child under such circumstances. There is simply no victim, as the Court reluctantly concluded in Lamy. As Justice Duggan wrote for a unanimous Court in that case, “Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.”
Rideout calls Lynch’s veto of the last fetal homicide bill “a black mark forever on his legacy.” Regarding the Lamy case, Rideout says he’s familiar with it, and finds “repugnant” the fact no such bill has been passed in response. “It was clear the Court was asking for the legislature to correct the law’s language….[T]his issue will not go away.”
Rideout’s bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing but is likely to come before a House committee in January.
related posts on the 2012 fetal homicide bill:

NH Reps, what does Ohio know that we don’t?

This week’s news includes the story of three women and one child in Cleveland, Ohio, liberated from years of captivity and abuse at the hands of a kidnapper.  Among the charges likely to be filed against the kidnapping suspect, Ariel Castro, is “aggravated murder.” He allegedly raped the women, and one has told police that when she became pregnant, he beat and starved her until she miscarried. Unlawfully terminating a woman’s pregnancy against her will, “with prior calculation and design,” is aggravated murder in Ohio.

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/09/18145259-prosecutor-will-seek-murder-charges-for-terminated-pregnancies-in-kidnap-case

What would New Hampshire call that act? Assault on the mother, certainly, but prosecutors would have no tools for filing charges for the death of the preborn child. Eleven months ago, the House failed to override John Lynch’s veto of a fetal homicide bill.

In view of the news from Ohio, New Hampshire legislators ought to lay the groundwork for another try at fetal homicide legislation.

 

The Rest of the Veto Day 2012: Partial-Birth Ban is Law, Fetal Homicide Falls Just Short

The House’s override of the HB 1679 veto (partial-birth) augured well for the day. The Senate followed suit a little later, on an 18-5 straight-party-line vote. The bill is due to go into effect next January 1, although I have a sneaking suspicion that someone will try to enjoin it.

This is an enormous victory. I’ve spent enough time in the trenches to know one when I see one.

Fetal homicide, HB 217, fell short on a vote of 201-126. A majority in the House, to be sure, but not quite the two-thirds needed to send it to the Senate. Reps. Kathleen Souza (R-Manchester) and Warren Groen (R-Rochester) argued for the bill today on the House floor. Governor Lynch got spanked today, with several of his vetoes being overturned, so he may be particularly gratified that he managed to make this one stick.

Dominick Emmons and his mother got no justice today. I told their story in an earlier post: http://bit.ly/L2Q3Of

The death of Dominick Emmons led to the Lamy case in which the state supreme court called on the legislature to clean up the state laws regarding the death of a fetus. Most of the legislators were willing to do that, despite Governor Lynch’s veto. The override vote was complicated when RESOLVE, a national support group for families dealing with infertility, teamed up with NARAL to hand out anti-HB217 flyers to legislators this morning.

Huh?

You read that right. After the bill had its Senate hearing but before the original Senate vote, abortion advocates went to work looking for allies. The usual suspects – PPNNE, NARAL – found a threat to Roe v. Wade where none existed, and they managed to whip up fear that a fetal homicide law would stop in vitro fertilization and other forms of assisted reproduction. That WOULD NOT HAPPEN under HB 217, for the simple reason that the bill includes language exempting from prosecution anyone acting with a woman’s consent – even a lab tech discarding surplus embryos (children)  from IVF.

I wonder if some of the pro-life women struggling with infertility know that RESOLVE has made common cause with abortion advocates to fight fetal homicide laws. Next time, sponsors will need to keep that in mind as they build the coalition that will get this legislation over the top next time it’s introduced.

Raise your glass and toast the reps who refused to fall for the fear factor – especially Kathy Souza, who has been promoting fetal homicide legislation for a couple of decades now, since long before she was a state rep. Manchester ward 4 can be proud of her.

Lynch Strikes Again; Vetoes Fetal Homicide Bill

Late Monday afternoon, Governor Lynch vetoed House Bill 217 – the fetal homicide bill, Dominick’s Law. I have blogged about this bill many times, beginning here. In response to the veto, I wrote the following statement today on behalf of Cornerstone Policy Research, where I serve as VP for Government Affairs.


By vetoing HB 217, the fetal homicide bill, Governor Lynch has managed to get three things wrong at once. He has misread the bill, he has ignored the reasonable concerns of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and he has done what he can to make sure that drunk drivers and abusive partners are not held responsible for actions that put an end to a woman’s wanted pregnancy. 

The first concern the governor stated in his veto message was that the bill would allow the state to prosecute a pregnant woman for causing the death of the fetus. This is absolutely false. The first full paragraph of the bill is very clear: the bill does not apply to any act performed by a pregnant woman, or any act done with her consent, that causes the death of a fetus. This concern was raised and addressed repeatedly in the legislative hearings on this bill. 
The New Hampshire Supreme Court in the 2009 case State v. Lamy was forced to overturn a drunk driver’s conviction for causing the death of Dominick Emmons, whose premature birth was triggered by injuries sustained by his mother in the collision, and whose death two weeks later was a result of the trauma he sustained. The unanimous decision of the Court included a plea to the legislature: “Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.” The legislature did just that, and now Governor Lynch is inventing excuses to block this needed legislation.
Finally, while a woman has the legal right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, a woman’s choice to carry a pregnancy deserves respect and legal protection as well. Just as “viability” has no bearing in New Hampshire on the right to terminate a pregnancy, “viability” should have no bearing on the right to carry a pregnancy to term. Anytime a pregnant woman loses her baby against her will due to another’s wrongful act, a crime has been committed and the state should have the tools to respond accordingly. The family of Dominick Emmons surely knows that, the New Hampshire Supreme Court knows that, and the New Hampshire House and Senate know that. Governor Lynch’s refusal to bring New Hampshire law on this subject into the 21st century can best be met with an override.

Friday Assortment: Run for Office, Wait for Vetoes, Watch the Court

If you want to run for state office as a member of a political party later this year, you have until 5 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, June 15) to file. The primary election will be held on September 11, and the general election follows on November 6. What’s your pleasure? State rep, maybe? Two bucks and a trip to your town clerk to fill out the paperwork will make you a candidate. Prospective delegates to the GOP state convention register with town clerks as well, with no filing fee. Other offices – state senate, executive council, county offices, governor, Congress – must file at the Secretary of State’s office in Concord. Filing information   is here.

A special note to my Republican readers: running to be a delegate to the state convention costs you nothing, and winning a seat requires nothing more than a couple of meetings. If the party platform matters to you, this is a job for you.

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Governor Lynch has begun plowing through the pile of bills on his desk, and he has found his veto pen. An education tax credit bill is the latest victim. The fetal homicide bill still awaits action. The House and Senate are scheduled to meet on June 27 to deal with vetoed bills.

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The current U.S. Supreme Court session will end in a couple of weeks, with a ruling expected on some aspects of the president’s health care plan. The unlikeliest outcome is that the plan will be struck down altogether. If that happy event comes to pass, the HHS mandate will be dead. The Court could find the plan constitutional in all aspects (perish the thought), or constitutional in part. In either of those situations, the lawsuits against the mandate will continue, challenging its inherent religious liberty violation.

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A “Fortnight for Religious Freedom” begins next Thursday, June 21, and ends on Independence Day, July 4. Organized by Catholics who have been moved to action by the mandate, the two-week observance is for anyone who’s ready to pray, study, and act to defend our First Amendment heritage. Find more information  here.

Decisions: Lynch & Bass

The fetal homicide and partial-birth abortion bills would not die, despite grueling journeys through the New Hampshire House & Senate. Look up the dockets for these bills on the state web site sometime. A number of tales are hidden behind those dry factual entries.

And so, at long last, Governor Lynch will get these bills. I am telling every pro-life person I know to get those calls and emails going. The number is 271-2121, where I’m sure a very polite individual is waiting to take our calls. Lynch’s pleasant and understated persona is not enough to make me forget that he vetoed parental notification (and overriding that veto was one of the proudest moments for the legislative class of ’10). He has not made direct veto threats on either fetal homicide or partial birth, but on the latter, it’s a real stretch for me to believe he’ll support it.

As for fetal homicide, if Lynch can’t be persuaded by the state Supreme court’s Lamy case, he just can’t be persuaded.

The success of these bills so far is great news, and it shows what can be done with legislators who can think straight. As for the governor, we live in hope. What will he do?

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In Congress today, a bill called PRENDA came up for a vote, and fell short of the two-thirds that it needed. PRENDA stands for Pregnancy Nondiscrimination Act, and it was written to ban sex-selection abortions. PP hates the bill, and the president has weighed in against it as well. When the dust settled this afternoon, only seven Republicans had voted against the bill. One was Charlie Bass, New Hampshire’s own Congressman from the Second District.

Bass is avowedly pro-choice, and has been for as long as I can remember. I used to testify in front of his committee when he was a state senator. But refusing to frown on sex selection? Really? Worldwide, most of the preborn children killed for being the “wrong” sex are girls. There’s a war on women for you.

This won’t help him in November, of course, since Ann Kuster will get the pro-Roe vote. Kuster’s mother, the late Susan McLane, served with Bass in the state senate years ago. McLane and Bass were both “pro-choice” Republicans. It is some kind of rough justice that pits McLane’s daughter against Bass now.