Committee Nixes Conscience Bill, 14-4

(Updated to delete a reference to HB 1680, which will be addressed in a separate post.)

Today’s chapter in the annals of Aren’t-You-Glad-You-Have-a-Republican-Legislature: the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee has voted “inexpedient to legislate” on HB 1787, a bill to provide conscience protections for medical personnel. The committee recommendation will go to the full House next week.

Voting against the motion to kill the bill were four representatives, all Republican: Joseph Hagan of Chester, Gary Hopper of Weare, Kurt Wuelper of Strafford, and Dan Hynes of Merrimack.

Voting in favor of the “inexpedient to legislate” motion: Reps. Claire Rouillard (R-Goffstown), Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), Kathleen Hoelzel (R-Raymond), Robert Graham (R-Milton), Jason Janvrin (R-Seabrook), John Leavitt (R-Hooksett), Janet Wall (D-Madbury), Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham), Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland), Suzanne Smith (D-Hebron), Linda Kenison (D-Concord), Sandra Keans (D-Rochester), Charlotte DiLorenzo (D-Newmarket), and Debra Altschiller (D-Stratham).

HB 1721, to prevent coerced abortions: ITL, 15-3

On the same day, the committee recommended “inexpedient to legislate” on a bill to prevent coerced abortions. The vote was 15-3. Representatives Wuelper, Hopper, and Leavitt voted against the ITL motion.


Conscience bill: what to remember & why to act now

I went to the hearing on HB 1787 yesterday, regarding conscience protections for health care providers who decline to participate in abortion, sterilization, or artificial contraception. I have many pages of notes. I made an audio recording of part of the session. I could give you a blow-by-blow description of everything.

But I won’t today. Not here, not now. There are only two takeaways I want to share with you immediately, knowing that the House Judiciary Committee has put off for another day its vote on the bill. Haven’t contacted them yet? Hop to it, please, before sunrise on February 22:

  1. There are legislators – a substantial number on the committee, actually – who appear to believe that people who won’t do abortions don’t belong in any medical field at all. 
  2. There are legislators who adamantly assert that there is no difference between induced abortion, miscarriage, and the loss of a child as an indirect effect of the direct action of saving a mother’s life (treating a woman for ectopic pregnancy, for example). 

Number two got backing from the ACLU of New Hampshire and from a Dr. Young, a Concord OB/GYN who came to testify against conscience rights. This is the same doctor who at the hearing on the late-term abortion bill testified that in 35 years of practice, he had never seen or heard of a post-18-week abortion on a healthy fetus.

Fortunately, other doctors were present who defended conscience rights and urged legislators to pass the bill. They were questioned closely about how intent could possibly distinguish one kind of pregnancy termination from another. They answered truthfully, but I could see their words falling on stony ground.

Your doctor needs to hear this. Pharmacists need to know about this bill. So do nurses and PAs. For that matter, so do the people working in abortion facilities who really don’t want to be the ones to reassemble the products of conception following an abortion.

I’ll update this post after the committee makes its recommendation.

UPDATE, 2/27/18: The House Judiciary Committee voted “inexpedient to legislate” on HB 1787, 14-4.

NH reps seek conscience protections for medical professionals

Do you want to know who’d like to see coerced abortions in New Hampshire? Come to room 205 of the Legislative Office Building Thursday and see who comes out against a bill protecting conscience rights for medical professionals.

I’m not talking about people who might have questions about the form the bill should take or who might say the bill is unnecessary. I mean watch out for the people who call conscience protections a threat to “access” to contraception, abortion, assisted reproduction, what have you. When you hear testimony about squelching conscience rights in favor of “access,” you’re hearing a pitch for coerced abortions.

There’s more than one way to coerce an abortion. One is to forcibly terminate a woman’s pregnancy, against her will. Another is to force someone to participate in the termination.

Representatives Warren Groen of Rochester and Richard Gordon of East Kingston are proposing HB 670 to prohibit discrimination against health care providers who conscientiously object to participating in any health care services. Violations would be dealt with using civil penalties, not criminal sanctions. “Conscience” is defined in the bill as “the religious, moral, or ethical principles held by a health care provider, a health care institution, or a health care payer…. [A] health care institution or health care payer’s conscience shall be determined by reference to its existing or proposed religious, moral, or ethical guidelines; mission statement; constitution; bylaws; articles of incorporation; regulations; or other relevant documents.”

The bill would protect any individual who may be asked in any way to participate in a health care service. The protection wouldn’t be limited to people with medical degrees or titles. If you’re at all involved in patient care, HB 670 would protect you.

A similar but slightly different bill was tabled in 2012. The chairman of Judiciary at that time told his colleagues that while the language was flawed, the committee favored the idea of such a bill. There was an opposing view, written as a minority report  by then-Rep. Rick Watrous: conscience protections were “anti-patient and anti-business and would inject chaos and uncertainty into New Hampshire health care.”

A preview of testimony this week? Could be.

Conscience: what a burden. Better guard it before someone finds it too inconvenient to tolerate.

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Four ways your tax dollars are funding abortion

In New Hampshire Right to Life’s September 2013 newsletter, Charlotte Antal reported on four government programs that are funding abortion or helping subsidize abortion providers. Her article is extensively footnoted, and it included information new to me about abortion funding in the U.S.

Here’s a brief summary of Charlotte’s findings.

Repeal of the “Mexico City Policy.” For years, that policy halted U.S. funds from going to non-governmental organizations that perform abortions or “actively support” abortion as a means of birth control. Repeal was one of President Obama’s priorities when he was first elected, and he was backed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) among others.

Abortions for undocumented immigrants in custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division of the Department of Homeland Security. This one was news to me. Limited to cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother, abortion is available to female detainees. It’s listed as one of the “pregnancy services” available, on a par with prenatal care.

Insurance premiums under Obamacare include a fee for abortion “services” to be paid by enrollees – all enrollees, regardless of age, sex, family status, or conscientious objection to abortion.

Contracts with Planned Parenthood to be an Obamacare “navigator.” In New Hampshire, PP has a contract worth about $145,000 to assist consumers in five New Hampshire counties to sign up for health insurance. As Charlotte asks, “why are we giving even more tax dollars to the nation’s biggest abortion provider?”

Charlotte’s article gives a glimpse into how hard it is to keep abortion providers away from your pocketbook. This is a constantly shifting area, with policies and laws subject to change at any time. Vigilance is a challenge. My thanks to Charlotte for sounding this particular alert.

Time for NH’s Congressional Delegation to Affirm the First Amendment

The President and the federal department of Health and Human Services, emboldened by the pathetic retreat on this issue by most Republican candidates for office last fall, are still pushing the HHS mandate as part of the “Affordable” Care Act. Cosmetic tweaks have not improved it. If an individual has religious objections to contraception, sterilization, or abortion-inducing drugs, she should not be forced to pay to provide them to anyone. That’s basic First Amendment protection. The HHS mandate, not yet enforced but on the way, violates that. The President is still seeking to put his health plan ahead of the First Amendment.

More action needed? Absolutely.

I recommend for a quick link to New Hampshire’s federal legislators. Tell them to put conscience protections into ANY appropriations bill. No conscience protection? Then cut off funds to enforce the mandate. Senator Ayotte has been very respectful so far of the need for conscience protection; Sen. Shaheen has not. Reps. Shea-Porter and Kuster were not in office last year and so have not been heard from officially on this. Time for them to go on record.

For more background, check out some of my posts from last year on the mandate: It Takes a Village to Kill a Mandate; Mandate Rationale? Try Checking Under the Penumbra; and Go Back to the Drawing Board.