Your presence, sign-ins, testimony all needed in House Judiciary this week

The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee will be in Representatives Hall on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Will you be there to meet them?

This is a long post, and you can thank the folks who scheduled six related bills over two days. Bear with me.

Even if you don’t attend the hearings, sign in now on any bill, before its hearing, to register your opinion to the committee. You can also submit written testimony, whether or not you attend. See the end of this post for How-tos.

All-day sessions are tough for concerned citizens. (They’re tough for reps, too, but the reps knew that when they ran for office.) Better brief attendance than none at all. Judiciary is the committee providing the clearest support for my maxim “pro-life is not spelled GOP,” and it would be a mistake to take any committee member’s vote for granted.

I’m going to stress some of these bills more than others. I’ve linked to each bill’s listing on the General Court website so you can read them for yourself and decide which hearings to attend. On both days, these hearings are scheduled for Representatives Hall in the State House in Concord.

Wednesday, February 9: buffer zone repeal, heartbeat bill, father’s involvement in abortion decision

1 p.m.: HB 1625, buffer zone repeal

The right thing for the committee to do is recommend Ought to Pass on HB 1625 and thereby repeal the odious buffer zone law. Anyone who is sincerely concerned with both the safety of people inside “reproductive health” facilities AND protecting peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights needs to go back to the drawing board, because New Hampshire’s law is flawed in every way.

Search “buffer zone” on this blog and you’ll get an idea of what I think about the current buffer zone law: it protects no one, violates the First Amendment, and sets the state up for expensive litigation it can only lose. It needs to be repealed.

HB 1625 would repeal a 2014 law that allows abortion facility managers to determine the location and timing of zones outside their facilities where certain activities are prohibited. Municipalities may be consulted before a zone is set up, but they do not have veto power. Only an abortion facility manager can decide when and where to post a zone. It makes no difference under the buffer zone law whether the prohibited activities are peaceful or violent, silent or noisy, with or without signs.

Does such a law protect the safety of people in the facilities? Not if can’t be enforced, and thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, it certainly cannot be enforced in its current form. Repealing it is the right thing to do, and that’s what HB 1625 would accomplish.

Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion in McCullen v. Coakley, which struck down a Massachusetts buffer zone law substantially similar to New Hampshire’s (a decision that came out within days of the-Gov. Maggie Hassan’s signing the New Hampshire law), our buffer zone law is unenforceable. Yes, unanimous: even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg knew a stinker when she saw one.

From the McCullen decision: “Respondents assert undeniably significant interests in maintaining public safety on…streets and sidewalks, as well as in preserving access to adjacent healthcare facilities. But here the Commonwealth [of Massachusetts] has pursued those interests by the extreme step of closing a substantial portion of a tradi­tional public forum to all speakers. It has done so without seriously addressing the problem through alternatives that leave the forum open for its time-honored purposes. The Commonwealth may not do that consistent with the First Amendment.” Eventually, a court ordered the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to pay more than $1 million to the attorneys for the pro-lifers whose First Amendment rights had been violated.

Buffer zone supporters in New Hampshire like to point out that the law only allows restriction of use of public spaces within 25 feet of an abortion facility. Funny thing, though: the size of a zone, whether 25 feet or half a mile, was irrelevant to the Court’s decision.

Recall a 2014 letter from the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union (now known as ACLU-NH): “Simply put, embodied within the First Amendment is the principle that occasionally being exposed to messages with which one disagrees is the necessary price we pay to live in a free and open society.” NHCLU was talking about a proposed anti-chalking ordinance in Keene. One would think the same principle would apply to peaceful witness outside abortion facilities – yet NHCLU lobbied in favor of the buffer zone law. Go figure.

Seven pro-lifers went to federal court to challenge the buffer zone law shortly after it was passed. A judge eventually ruled that since no abortion facility had yet posted a zone, there was nothing to litigate. Almost 8 years later, the situation remains unchanged.

Pass HB 1625. Repeal the buffer zone law.

The list of sponsors for HB 1625 shows an impressive team of veterans as well as first-termers: Reps. Niki Kelsey (R-Bedford), Hershel Nunez (R-Pelham), Tim Baxter (R-Seabrook), Linda Gould (R-Bedford), Walter Stapleton (R-Claremont), Maureen Mooney (R-Merrimack), Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), Mark Pearson (R-Hampstead), Vanessa Sheehan (R-Milford), and Sens. Denise Ricciardi (R-Bedford), Gary Daniels (R-Milford), and Kevin Avard (R-Nashua).

9 a.m.: HB 1181-FN, allowing the biological father of an unborn child to petition the court for an injunction prohibiting the biological mother from having an abortion

The text of HB 1181 runs to four pages plus an indeterminate fiscal note. I am skeptical that it’ll fly, even as a vehicle for challenging Supreme Court abortion precedents. (Dobbs will carry that freight this year.) Sponsors: Reps. Jeffrey Greeson (R-Wentworth) and Walter Stapleton (R-Claremont).

10 a.m.: HB 1477-FN, prohibiting abortions after detection of fetal heartbeat

With multiple efforts pending to gut New Hampshire’s new 24-week abortion restriction, six House reps are putting time and effort into trying to pass a heartbeat bill, which would put the de facto restriction closer to six weeks. HB 1477 would prohibit abortions once a heartbeat is detected in the preborn child, with an exception for danger to the life of the mother or to prevent a serious risk to the mother of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.

If anyone throws the word “extremism” around in association with this bill, I invite consideration of the extremism that has characterized New Hampshire abortion policy since 1997. Parental notification was a long battle that went to the Supreme Court and required a veto override in 2011. It took another veto override to get a partial-birth-abortion ban in 2012. Abortion statistics bills have been stymied by abortion advocates who want the public kept in the dark. The Fetal Life Protection Act, a 24-week limit, has prompted a multimillion-dollar media campaign to mischaracterize the law and demonize its supporters. There’s resistance to anything that moves New Hampshire away from being a state that welcomes abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. That’s extremism.

Whether a heartbeat bill is wisdom or folly, it’s a refusal to be silenced by abortion absolutists. That alone might attract some votes.

Sponsors: Reps. David Testerman (R-Franklin), Walter Stapleton (R-Claremont), Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry), Gail Sanborn (R-Rumney), Terry Roy (R-Deerfield), and Jeffrey Greeson (R-Wentworth).

Thursday, February 10: repealing Fetal Life Protection Act, putting abortion into the NH Constitution, access to “abortion care”

9 a.m.: CACR 18, relating to reproductive medical decisions

The last time abortion advocates tried to enshrine abortion in the New Hampshire Constitution, they poked a bear, and the bear won. Now, they’re back, feeling confident after months of expensive messaging against the Fetal Life Protection Act. Here’s CACR 18, where “CACR” refers to a constitutional amendment:

“Are you in favor of amending the first part of the constitution by inserting after article 2-b a new article to read as follows:…The right to make personal reproductive medical decisions is inviolate and fundamental to the human condition. Neither the State nor any political subdivision shall infringe upon or unduly inconvenience this right.”

No, I’m not in favor, and I’m going to make sure the members of the Judiciary Committee know it.

This is not about “personal reproductive medical decisions.” This is about abortion, forcing you and me to pay for it, and ensuring that no conscience protections will exist for Granite State medical professionals who refuse to be complicit in the direct intentional taking of human life.

Sponsors (and I see that not even one abortion-friendly Republican could be prevailed upon to sign on): Reps. Amanda Toll (D-Keene), Timothy Smith (D-Manchester), Sherry Frost (D-Dover), Rebecca McWilliams (D-Concord), Nicole Klein-Knight (D-Manchester), Joshua Query (D-Manchester), Manny Espitia (D-Nashua), Chuck Grassie (D-Rochester), and Debra Altschiller (D-Stratham). Another sponsor, Stephanie Hyland of Francestown, resigned her House seat in late January.

10 a.m.: HB 1674, relative to reproductive rights

HB 1674, styled by its sponsors an “abortion care act,” “provides that the state shall not restrict a woman’s exercise of her private decision to terminate a pregnancy except as provided in RSA 329:44 [the Fetal Life Protection Act] and RSA 132:32 – 132:36 [parental notification].”

In other words: there might be a 24-week abortion limit, but don’t even think of making it 23 or 22 or 21, and don’t try to regulate dispensation of abortion drugs, and definitely don’t even think of requiring an abortion provider to have medical credentials.

That’s another big Nope from me.

Sponsors: Reps. Alexis Simpson (D-Exeter), Megan Murray (D-Amherst), Lucy Weber (D-Walpole), Mark Page (D-Exeter), Marjorie Smith (D-Durham), Jerry Knirk (R-Freedom), Mary Hakken-Phillips (D-Hanover), Jacqueline Chretien (D-Manchester), Karen Ebel (D-New London), and Sens. Rebecca Perkins Kwoka (D-Portsmouth), Rebecca Whitley (D-Hopkinton), and Suzanne Prentiss (D-West Lebanon).

1 p.m.: HB 1673-FN, repealing the Fetal [Life] Protection Act

I get a twinge of amusement from a bill that fails to name correctly the law it’s trying to repeal. The statutory reference number in HB 1673 is to the Fetal Life Protection Act, which this repeal bill calls the Fetal Health Protection Act. But in any case, this bill has the virtue of brevity, even if its substance is undesirable: this bill may be known as the women’s health privacy act, and the Fetal [Life] Protection Act is hereby repealed.

The chief sponsor , Rep. Marjorie Smith of “there is no such thing as an abortion up until birth” fame, is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. The bill’s co-sponsors are Reps. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton), Alexis Simpson (D-Exeter), Debra Altschiller (D-Stratham), Amanda Toll (D-Keene), Cam Kenney (D-Durham), Amanda Bouldin (D-Manchester), Katherine Rogers (D-Concord), Kate Murray (D-New Castle), and Sens. Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua), Rebecca Whitley (D-Hopkinton), and Tom Sherman (D-Rye).

What you can do about these bills – starting right now

Sign in electronically before the hearing.

For each of these bills, you can record your opinion online anytime before the hearing, even days in advance. On the General Court website, go to the page “online testimony submission” – and even if you have no written testimony to submit, SIGN IN to register your support or opposition to a bill. You’ll need to fill in one bill at a time, submit the form, and then go back to the Online Testimony Submission page and fill it out again for the next bill for which you want to register an opinion.

Why is this important? First, it lets the committee know what you think, in the easiest possible format for you. Second, the number of people signing in online makes a big impression. At a recent life issue bill – another attempt to repeal FLPA – a thousand people signed in “opposed,” while sixteen hundred people signed in “support.” Those numbers hit the media, and they will sway some legislators.

Screenshot of House Online Testimony Form. Note that you can simply sign “support” or “oppose” without uploading any written testimony.

Submit written testimony before the hearing.

If you have a statement to make, but you can’t attend the hearing, this is your chance to go public. You can submit testimony using the same Online Testimony Submission form mentioned above. On Step 4 of the electronic form, you can upload your written testimony in PDF format only.

What you submit online will be available for public viewing. Your personal story may be the one that reaches someone who’s wavering on the defense of human life.

Attend the hearing.

If you can’t attend a full day of hearings, you can come for part of the day. I have responsibilities that will keep me from being in Reps Hall for all of two days, but any appearance is better than none. Here’s where you can hand in written testimony that’s not in electronic form; hand it to anyone at the committee table and that person will be sure to get it to the committee clerk.

You will sign in using a “pink card,” which is what House committees use to keep track of who testifies. Those will probably be available on tables outside Reps Hall. Fill one out for each bill and hand the cards to anyone at the committee table. You’ll need to give your name, town, whether you support or oppose the bill, and whether you wish to speak.

You do not have to give spoken testimony. If you feel nervous about that, watch and listen as others testify. That’ll give you a sense of what it’s like, and maybe next time you’ll be confident about stepping up to the mic.

If you have a chance to speak, you will probably have a limit of three minutes. Be clear, brief, and courteous. Don’t just read your written testimony (committees hate that); summarize it by speaking about the strongest points. And here’s my tip from a few decades of experience as a lobbyist: if you are speaking AND submitting written testimony, don’t hand in your written testimony until AFTER you speak. The reps should be looking at you when you speak, not scanning a paper you gave them.

Hearings this week: “Access to Abortion Care Act” and attacks on Fetal Life Protection Act

Three abortion-advancing bills will get a hearing this week in Concord. On January 18, the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee will hear HB 1609, gutting the recently-enacted Fetal Life Protection Act (FPLA). On January 19, in the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear one bill that would repeal FPLA outright, and another that would make abortion throughout pregnancy a statutory right enforceable in court.

New Hampshire’s 24-week abortion limitation hasn’t even been in effect for three weeks, and even that’s too long for these legislators. Mark your calendars. Plan to attend, or sign in remotely, or submit written testimony – or go for the trifecta by doing all three. You can attend the hearing without speaking; your presence will have impact. Spread the word about the need for remote sign-ins from people who can’t attend the hearings!

Reminder: “FN” simply means that the bill has a fiscal note, indicating an effect on state spending. You do not have to include those letters when communicating with a legislator about the bill.

HB 1609, weakening the Fetal Life Protection Act

Hearing: Tuesday, January 18, 2022, 9:50 a.m., Legislative Office Building rooms 210-211, House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee. You can sign in online TODAY to register your opposition to the bill, following the directions on the House website at this link.

Six Republicans have introduced HB 1609, weakening FLPA, presumably making it more palatable to Governor Sununu. It would repeal the ultrasound requirement in FLPA, and add exceptions to FLPA’s 24-week limit to allow late-term eugenic abortion as well as late-term abortion of children conceived in rape or incest.

In an attempt to sweeten the bowl of mush, the sponsors added a provision calling for the collection of abortion statistics. I’ve told people for years that if the legislature ever passes a stats bill, I’ll go away happy. HB 1609 isn’t my idea of a stats bill.

The six Republicans who are co-sponsoring the measure with no help from Democrats are Reps. Dan Wolf (R-Newbury, chief sponsor), Brodie Deshaies (R-Wolfeboro), James Allard (R-Pittsfield), John Graham (R-Bedford), Bonnie Ham (R-North Woodstock), and Joseph DePalma IV (R-Littleton).

Repeat after me: “prolife” is not spelled G-O-P. A bill that makes the intentional termination of human life more readily available is not a prolife bill.

SB 399-FN, repealing the Fetal Life Protection Act

Hearing: Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 1:00 p.m., State House room 100, Senate Judiciary Committee. You can sign in online TODAY to register your opposition to the bill, following the directions on the Senate website at this link.

The sponsors for some reason are calling SB 399 “repealing the fetal health protection act” when the law they’re attacking is clearly named “fetal life protection act.” Go back to page 14 of HB 2, the budget trailer law, if you don’t believe me. But I digress.

You’ll recall that the Fetal Life Protection Act, limiting abortions in New Hampshire to 24 weeks, went into effect January 1. SB 399 would repeal it. It’s a 3-line bill, deceptively nicknamed by the sponsors the “Reproductive Health Privacy Act,” and it would go into effect immediately if passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor. Sponsors are all ten of the Senate’s Democrats, led by Sen. Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua). House co-sponsors are Reps. Marjorie Smith (D-Durham), Alexis Smith (D-Exeter), Amanda Bouldin (D-Manchester), Katherine Rogers (D-Concord), and Renny Cushing (D-Hampton).

Side note: Another effort to repeal the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA) is on hold. Abortion advocates on the House Judiciary Committee took a “retained” bill from 2021 (HB 622), threw out its language, and replaced it with language repealing FLPA. When that stunt reached the full House on January 7, the bill was tabled. Stay tuned; it’ll be back.

SB 436-FN, “relative to access to abortion care”

Hearing: Wednesday, January 19, 2022, 2:00 p.m. (right after the hearing on SB 399), State House room 100, Senate Judiciary Committee. You can sign in online TODAY to register your opposition to the bill, following the directions on the Senate website at this link.

SB 436 goes like this: “It shall be the public policy of New Hampshire that, because it is vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals, the state shall not restrict or interfere with an individual’s exercise of their private decision to terminate a pregnancy except as provided in RSA 329:44 and RSA 132:32-RSA 132:36.”

But wait, there’s more: “An individual injured as a result of a violation of this chapter shall have a private right of action in superior court against the state for injunctive relief arising from the violation. In addition to any injunctive relief awarded, the court may award costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to an injured person who prevails in an action brought under this chapter.”

So… if the state protects the First Amendment rights of peaceful prolife witnesses outside an abortion facility, does that constitute “interference” with termination of a pregnancy? Will the state get sued for not stopping peaceful prolife witness?

If SB 436 were to be enacted, would an individual seeking a late-term abortion be able to sue the state because FLPA is on the books?

Abortion advocates heard the uproar when they tried to enshrine abortion in the New Hampshire constitution a couple of years ago, and they backed off. Now, they’re trying to get the job done via statute.

Go on record any way you can

Refer to the tool kit for this legislative session, my modest attempt at a guided tour of how to testify in person and communicate online with your reps. Time to put it to work.

Current Covid precautions at the State House and Legislative Office Building include encouragement of mask use.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear challenge to Roe on December 1

The state of Mississippi enacted a law in 2018 restricting abortion after 15 weeks’ gestation. It was challenged in court (of course). The case, called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments are scheduled for December 1, with a decision to be handed down in 2022. The Court will be asked to rule on whether states may enact any pre-viability abortion restrictions.

This gives the Court a chance to overrule Roe and Casey. It also gives the Court a chance to affirm them.

For all the recent agitation that has accompanied the nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justices, no one knows how Dobbs will come out.

I’ll be traveling to Washington, DC on December 1 to stand outside the Supreme Court beside pro-life activists from around the country urging the Justices to let the Mississippi law stand. Discount airfare, one-day trip, pack a lunch: no sweat. For me, it’ll be like the March for Life seven weeks early.

For those staying closer to home, a coalition of Christian groups is organizing an online prayer event to be held on November 18 at 8 p.m. Eastern time. From the event’s invitation:

Join Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians across the country coming together online to pray for the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. This is the case that could could overturn Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in all 50 states. This historic online gathering will bring together Christians across denominations. Together, we will pray for a just outcome that protects millions of preborn babies and their mothers. Jesus says, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Join us!

Find the flyer for the November event at prayfordobbs.com. There’s also a printable information sheet about the Dobbs case. Share freely.

One needn’t be Christian to recognize the right to life, and groups like Secular Pro-Life are supporting the Mississippi law. There’s room for everyone to urge the Court to move past Roe.

Senate Committee to hear life-issue bills March 30

The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary committee will hold hearings on Tuesday, March 30 on two life-issue bills, HB 233 and HB 625.

The hearing on HB 233, to protect infants who survive attempted abortion, will be at 1 p.m. A hearing on HB 625, to limit late-term abortions, will follow at 1:30. Hearings are still being held remotely, via Zoom videoconference. Members of the public can register online in advance to testify . The same sign-in process is used to register support or opposition without providing testimony.

I described the bills and their course through the House in “House passes two life-issue bills, overturning committee reports.

Members of the public may view the Senate Judiciary hearing using the following links:

  1. Link to Zoom Webinar: https://www.zoom.us/j/91687899729
  2. To listen via telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
    1-301-715-8592, or 1-312-626-6799 or 1-929-205-6099, or 1-253-215-8782, or 1-346-248-7799, or 1-669-900-6833
  3. Or iPhone one-tap: US: +13017158592,,91687899729# or +13126266799,, 91687899729#
  4. Webinar ID: 916 8789 9729

House passes two life-issue bills, overturning committee reports

In all the years I’ve been an advocate for life-issue legislation, I’ve seen very few days when the New Hampshire House has produced two victories – but here we are.

Despite the efforts of the Judiciary Committee, the House on February 24 passed HB 625, to restrict abortions after 24 weeks’ gestation, on a 191-160 roll call vote. (I’ll add a link to the roll call once it’s posted on the General Court website.) Later, after a Democratic effort to deny a quorum, the House passed HB 233, to protect infants surviving attempted abortion. That vote was 181-49, on a division vote.

That born-alive vote has some stories behind it.

The session was not open to the general public except via livestream. What follows is drawn from reports by credentialed media, my communication with House members, and relevant social media posts.

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