Hearings January 25 on abortion stats and facility audit bills

New Hampshire legislators will soon introduce an abortion statistics bill, HB 582-FN, which will be considered by the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs (HHS) committee. The same committee will also consider HB 615-FN, requiring independent audits of reproductive health facilities. (The “FN” suffix indicates a fiscal note, and those letters may be omitted in references to the bills.) According to the House calendar released yesterday, the bills will have their hearings on Wednesday, January 25 at 2:00 p.m. for HB 582 and 2:45 p.m. for HB 615. Before heading to Concord, check the General Court website, gencourt.state.nh.us, for any updates or cancellations due to weather.

The hearings will be in the Legislative Office Building in Concord, rooms 210-211. See this blog’s Legislative Tool Kit for information about attending hearings and submitting testimony.

Action item: register your opinion on the bills online now, even days before the hearing, and your response will reach all committee members. Use the House Online Testimony form, which lets you record a simple “I support” or “I oppose” on bills. (I’ll be supporting them both.) You may submit written testimony, but it is not required on that form. Your name, position (support/oppose), and any testimony you submit online will be visible to the general public. On the Online Testimony page, enter “January 25” for the date and “House Health Human Services and Elderly Affairs” as the committee, and you will see a drop-down menu with a list of all the bills being heard by HHS that day. Click on the appropriate bill number and then follow the directions on the resulting screen.

Even if you cannot attend the hearing, the advance online sign-in is critical in order to get the committee members’ attention and to encourage the sponsors of the bills.

Regarding HB 582, New Hampshire is one of the few states that does not collect abortion statistics and report aggregate data (not personally-identifying) to the public and the federal Centers for Disease Control. I’m losing track of the number of years the House has considered and rejected this women’s health measure at the urging of abortion advocates. HB 582 is years overdue. Chief sponsor is Rep. Walter Stapleton (R-Claremont), joined by three co-sponsors.

HB 615 would ensure clarity in how Medicaid funds (which includes family planning funds) are used by abortion providers. From the bill’s official analysis: “This bill provides that state funds awarded to reproductive health care facilities shall be limited to the minimum amount necessary for participation in the Medicaid program. The bill also requires state contracts with certain reproductive health care facilities to include provisions indicating that state funds shall not be used to subsidize abortion and that the facility shall undergo an independent audit, the results of which will be provided to the executive council prior to taking action on the contract.” Chief sponsor is Rep. Jess Edwards (R-Auburn), and he is joined by seven co-sponsors.

Legislators to meet for Organization Day December 7

An excerpt from the newsletter I sent to subscribers today:

A year ago, I was standing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court with about 2000 other people, rallying as the Justices heard the arguments in the Dobbs case. I took the photo below that morning, as the bright sky seemed to express all our hopes.

Outside the U.S. Supreme Court the day of arguments in the Dobbs case, 12/1/21

Since then, New Hampshire has passed the Fetal Life Protection Act, then weakened it. The Dobbs decision has overturned Roe, but it didn’t recognize a right to life. 

Against that backdrop, New Hampshire legislators will meet next week for Organization Day, kicking off the 2023 legislative session. Winners of November’s state House and Senate election will take office on Wednesday, December 7, at 10:00 a.m. The day’s session is open to the public and should also be live-streamed. 

Today’s newsletter included a preview of the life-issue legislation coming to the State House in 2023. If you’re not already a subscriber, click on http://eepurl.com/hTBV09 and I’ll make sure you get this and future editions. The occasional email newsletters are a supplement to the blog.

Bill in the works to put abortion in NH Constitution

A New Hampshire legislator has filed a legislative service request (LSR) for the 2023 House session, proposing a state constitutional amendment relating to “reproductive freedom.” If adopted, the measure would lock into the constitution a “right” to abortion, undoubtedly intending to override conscience rights and require taxpayer funding for direct intentional termination of human life.

This kind of thing is perfectly acceptable under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Roe is gone; it was not replaced with recognition of the right to life. States’ rights don’t necessarily advance human rights.

The LSR was requested by Rep. Amanda Toll, a Cheshire County Democrat who won her primary handily. The measure has not yet been assigned a bill number. The LSR is in line with what a state women’s group called for in its 2023 abortion agenda.

The last time a group of legislators tried to shoehorn abortion into the state constitution was in January 2020. The hearing for what was then designated CACR 14 had to be moved to Representatives Hall, since the Judiciary Committee’s room couldn’t accommodate the 150 or so people who showed up. (I reported on the proceedings in “Reps Hall goes pro-life.”) CACR 14 went down to defeat.

Times have changed. Now, people can register their opinions online when a committee hearing is coming. The number of pro-vs.-con is read into the record. The numbers matter, especially for politicians who would like all this pro-life business to Just Go Away, and who will vote whichever way they think will cause them less trouble.

Voters will go to the polls on November 8 to elect state House and Senate members for the next biennium. Not sure who to vote for? Run this LSR past your candidates and listen for something like “no way.”

Buffer zone, conscience bills will get Senate votes May 5

The New Hampshire Senate at its May 5 session is scheduled to act on committee reports recommending passage for buffer zone repeal (HB 1625) and interim study of medical conscience protection (HB 1080).

Find your senator’s contact information at http://gencourt.state.nh.us/senate/members/wml.aspx

Buffer zone repeal got an “Ought to Pass” (OTP) recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 3-2 party-line vote. The House has already passed HB 1625, so if the Senate votes OTP, the next destination for the bill would be Governor Sununu’s desk.

Medical conscience – including the right not to suffer adverse professional consequences for refusing to participate in abortions – got an unfortunate “Interim Study” recommendation on a 4-1 vote from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. An interim study vote by the Senate would kill HB 1080 for this session. Ideally, senators will overturn the Interim Study recommendation and instead adopt an OTP motion.

The Senate session will be live-streamed on YouTube Thursday, May 5 at 10 a.m.

House session May 4-5

The House will have a two-day session next week. Among the bills on the calendar is SB 399, clarifying the ultrasound provision of the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA). It matches HB 1673, which has already passed. SB 399 is on the consent calendar after getting a unanimous 21-0 OTP vote from the House Judiciary Committee.

While this looks like good news, bear in mind that Governor Sununu has indicated his preference for HB 1609, which has already passed House and Senate. HB 1609 clarifies FLPA’s ultrasound provision, but also adds a eugenics exception (for “fetal abnormalities incompatible with life”) to FLPA’s 24-week abortion limitation.

Post header photo of NH Senate chamber: Marc Nozell, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons