I take Governor Chris Sununu to task now and again, and he seems determined to keep giving me ample material. When he gets something right, I ought to give him a nod.
Without ceremony, he recently signed a pile of more than fifty bills. Somewhere in that pile was HB 576, expanding eligibility for access to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s victims’ compensation fund. Now, survivors of juvenile sex trafficking will be allowed an extended period of time to make a claim on the fund.
I wrote recently about Darlene Pawlik’s testimony in favor of the bill. A survivor herself, she urged legislators to get behind the measure. “Having access to the victims compensation fund could be more than just a way for a young person to have expenses paid for….It is the fact that people cared enough to set up such a fund which really makes a difference.”
The bill was held over from the 2021 legislative session. The six sponsors, led by Rep. Linda Massimilla (D-Littleton), had to keep this one on their colleague’s radar in the middle of 2022’s new crush of bills. Persistence paid off.
The final legislative report on HB 576 was written by Sen. Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry): “This bill will amend the provisions of the Victims’ Compensation Fund by permitting claims for victims of human trafficking to be filed at anytime and eliminating the consideration of contributory negligence in claims based on sexual abuse or human trafficking. The passage of this bill will recognize the long-term victimization and ramifications that occur as a result of this type of abuse, giving victims the time they need to come to terms with their trauma without. deadline for claims looming over their recovery.”
Quick passage of HB 576 should have been a no-brainer, but sometimes the legislative process creaks a bit. Seeing this bill get over the finish line is immensely satisfying. I had the pleasure of playing a small role by working with the bill’s chief sponsor, with whom I may never again agree politically – but whose advocacy for trafficked kids comes straight from the heart.
According to Union Leader State House reporter Kevin Landrigan, Governor Chris Sununu has said he would veto the buffer-zone repeal bill if it reaches his desk. That bill, HB 1625, is scheduled for a Senate vote on Thursday, May 5. I’ll be watching to see if normally pro-life and pro-First-Amendment senators vote against the bill after they’ve heard the veto threat.
The report follows Sununu’s remarks earlier this week in the wake of the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion in the Dobbs case that he remains “pro-choice.” On his official website, he has posted the following statement: “As a pro-choice governor, I am committed to upholding Roe v. Wade, which is why I am proud of the bipartisan bill headed to my desk this year that expands access. So long as I am governor, these health care services for women will remain safe and legal.”
The “bipartisan” bill to which Sununu was referring is HB 1609, which adds a eugenics exception to the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA), New Hampshire’s recently-enacted 24-week abortion limitation.
Abortion statistics bills have been defeated numerous times in the New Hampshire legislature. This is so in spite of strong efforts by pro-life activists who want to ensure that stats collection will respect the privacy of individual women. Nope, can’t be done, say stats opponents.
Which brings us to a tweet today from the State House reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader.
That’s something to keep in mind the next time an abortion statistics bill is introduced. The same “Democratic leaders” (and any likeminded Republicans) calling for COVID-19-positive stats “which wouldn’t invade personal privacy” could explain their aversion to abortion stats subject to the same privacy protections.
At a minimum, I would think that the extent of post-abortion morbidity and mortality would be something worth tracking. That hasn’t gained much traction in Concord yet.
Maybe COVID will prompt some reconsideration about what it takes to collect and report aggregate public health data that protects individual privacy.
Update, 7/8/21: I am indebted to an attorney well-versed in pro-life policy who called me out on claiming that the language cited below would expire in two years. Instead, I’ll try for more clarity: it’s possible that it might not survive the next budget process. More about that below, in boldface.
For the first time since 1997, New Hampshire has a law limiting late-term abortion. Well, we’ll have one as of next January 1, and it may only be good – I said “may” – until the expiration of the budget on June 30, 2023. Still, after nearly a quarter-century, the Granite State will move ahead past the era of unregulated abortion.
I wondered if flipping the House and Senate would make a difference. Turns out it did.
It has taken me a couple of weeks to process this news. It’s stunning to me, as someone who was an activist even before 1997, to see this victory. Our pro-choice governor kept the word he gave in 2016. Pro-life reps worked to get pro-life language into the budget, after the Senate stalled a freestanding bill that would have done the job. Some pro-life budget conferees – who were Republicans, as it happens – wouldn’t let the provision be tossed out during budget negotiations.
We still don’t have abortion statistics, or a requirement that only medical personnel provide abortions (remember that the next time someone tells you abortion is a private “medical” decision), or conscience protection for health care workers who choose not to participate in the direct intentional termination of human life.
We can bet that the pro-life provisions in this budget will be up for debate and rejection in two years when the next budget is crafted. We can bet that the people promoting unregulated abortion will be fighting back, and in fact are doing so already.
So who wants it more? Do pro-life Granite Staters want to build on this victory?
Continue reading “Pro-life policies in state budget: victory with an expiration date (UPDATED)”
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, has won a third term. The same election flipped the House and Senate from Democrat to Republican majorities, subject to a few Senate recounts.
Will this yield any pro-life legislation?
You may recall that when Sununu ran for Governor the first time, he ran an ad touting his “pro-choice” position, but later said that he supported certain common-sense measures: fetal homicide legislation, Women’s Health Protection Act (standards for operation of abortion facilities), healthcare freedom of conscience, a late-term abortion ban, and buffer zone repeal.
(From 2016: A concerned Republican and Sununu’s reply)
After two terms, he has signed a fetal homicide law. None of the other measures he mentioned has even made it to his desk. It’s possible that a Republican majority in House and Senate will make a difference. After all, the Republican majority during Sununu’s first term did manage to pass that fetal homicide law, with the help of four Democrats and one Libertarian.
“Pro-life” isn’t spelled G-O-P. Neither is “First Amendment,” for that matter, as I recall repeated failures to repeal the buffer zone law. Even so, maybe some of those common-sense measures mentioned by the Governor might have a chance in 2021.