“…this movement is so incredibly important. The way we win, and we will, is important. How we react, how we speak, how we reach out…it matters. How we love matters. Love well.”
~~~Abby Johnson (Facebook, @abbyjohnsonprolife)
~~~Abby Johnson (Facebook, @abbyjohnsonprolife)
During the debate preceding the recent vote on the fetal homicide bill, one New Hampshire state representative made her way to the House gallery to hand me a thick bundle of stapled papers. She pointed out the top page to me, and then left without further comment to take her seat on the House floor.
The bundle was an amendment to a Commerce bill that had just been voted on. The topic was trusts, basically property, and the protection and conveyance thereof. Check out the words that pass without controversy when the subject is trusts.
Ironically, at the moment I read that, a representative was making a speech cautioning that a fetal homicide law would confer personhood on the fetus. No word on whether she takes issue with the term “unborn person” as it applies to trust law.
Legislation addressing unborn victims of violence is not personhood legislation. If it were, with nearly 40 states and the federal government having one or another form of a fetal homicide law, Roe v. Wade would have been kicked to the curb long ago.
The irony meter jumped up another notch as the omigosh-not-personhood politician at the microphone switched between “fetus” and “baby” as she spoke against the bill.
I’d like to think she’s teetering on the edge of a revelation, for all her thus-far adamant abortion advocacy.
Two weeks after voting to retain SB 66, the New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee has reconsidered its decision. Now, the fetal homicide measure will go to the House with a bipartisan committee recommendation of Ought to Pass with Amendment.
SB 66 in its current form would allow prosecutors the option of filing a homicide charge against anyone whose bad actions cause the death of a preborn child at 20 weeks’ gestation or later, if that death occurs against the will of the mother.
The next House session is June 1, and SB 66 will probably get its House vote that day. The message I’ll send my reps before that session is simple: support the committee recommendation on SB 66.
I’ll keep this post short, or at least not-too-long, because I need to get busy sending thank-yous to the twelve committee members who approved the bill. Two of them switched positions since the last go-round.
Notes and observations from the committee session of May 23:
The OTP/A vote was 12-8. The twelve: Reps. David Welch, Frank Sapareto, Dennis Fields, Bob Fesh, John Burt, Dennis Green, Kathleen Hoelzel, Carolyn Matthews, Jody McNally, Dave Testerman, Scott Wallace, and Roger Berube.
Reps. Wallace and Berube voted OTP/A after voting against SB 66 two weeks ago.
Rep. Berube is a Democrat, and he was treated to a snarky remark from a Democratic colleague before a brief party caucus, insinuating that Berube didn’t have to join in. He briskly shot back, “I’ve been a Democrat as long as you have.” And that put an end to snarky remarks uttered within hearing of the public.
Hoelzel and Matthews were sitting in for absent committee members Larry Gagne and Bonnie Ham.
Some Democrats on the committee objected to Rep. Burt’s reconsideration motion, with Rep. Laura Pantelakos saying “I feel very railroaded here today.” Reps. Renny Cushing and Shannon Chandley warned that the reconsideration vote had inadequate public notice. Neither Cushing nor Chandley commented on the fact that the public area of the hearing room was packed, with an overflow crowd trying to listen in from the doorway.
Rep. Cushing, a longtime legislator, said he had “no recollection” of the Criminal Justice committee reconsidering a two-week-old vote. Rep. Berube, another House vet, flatly disputed him, saying there had been reconsiderations on other bills “many a time.”
Rep. Pantelakos has always viewed fetal homicide legislation through the lens of abortion advocacy. She unsuccessfully attempted during the May 23 committee session to amend SB 66 into a be-kind-to-pregnant-ladies bill: enhanced penalties for killing a pregnant woman. “I’ve always wanted to find something to do for these people,” she said, using “these people” as a reference to families like the Crucittis and the Kenisons. Had Pantelakos’s amendment been adopted, her “something to do for these people” wouldn’t have applied to any assailant who killed a child but left the mother alive.
There is still a second fetal homicide bill, HB 156, in the same committee under “retained” status. Before the May 23rd debate on SB 66, Chairman Welch announced the names of the reps who will serve on a subcommittee to study HB 156: Chandley, Gagne, Burt, Ham, Sapareto. Rep. Pantelakos raised her hand and asked to be added. Welch agreed. HB 156 has an 8-week provision compared to SB 66’s 20-weeks, referring to the point in pregnancy at which the law might apply. As a retained bill, HB 156 won’t come before the full House until 2018.
Unmentioned by committee members on May 23, except for one oblique reference to “these people”: Griffin Kenison, Sara Crucitti, Dominick Emmons. Unmentioned: the Lamy case, which underscored the need for New Hampshire to join the dozens of other states that have fetal homicide laws. Unmentioned: the option of seeking an advisory opinion from the New Hampshire Supreme Court about the text of a fetal homicide bill.
But the committee did get around to OK’ing SB 66. That’s good enough for one day.
“A Safe Harbor for Mother and Child.” Step by step, St. Gianna’s Place is on the way to becoming a shelter for pregnant and parenting women. Administrative details are in place: a board of directors; nonprofit tax status. Now comes the work of acquiring a house, most likely in Londonderry, New Hampshire.
St. Gianna’s is taking shape one step at a time, guided by board members and an increasing number of supporters. One of those supporters, Lynn, hosted me and several other women for coffee recently so we could meet Maria Szemplinski of the St. Gianna’s Place board.
Maria talked about the planned home and about the people whose vision has brought the project this far. She told us about the need for more shelter beds in our area: “our Calcutta is right here,” she said, evoking Mother Teresa. She talked about other shelters in the region and how their staffs have been generous in sharing their advice and experience with the St. Gianna’s team.
So what’s next? We asked Maria what we could do.
One obvious answer: fundraising. That wasn’t what Maria led with, though. She asked us to consider what our gifts might be.
I knew some of my fellow guests slightly, and had met others for the first time that morning: a student active in pro-life work at her school, people with experience working with at-risk youth, an adoptive parent. These were women with full lives, hardly in need of another project, but all of them eager to offer practical assistance to pregnant and parenting women. I was in a room full of potential mentors and teachers.
Our hostess was meeting one of St. Gianna’s most urgent needs by welcoming us for an information session. Spreading the word is critical to attracting the material support the project needs. Maria and her fellow board members welcome opportunities to speak with any person or group who’d like to learn more.
Maria made it clear that even at this stage, the St. Gianna’s board is on the lookout for people with the skills to work with women who want educational guidance, job training, and parenting skills.
Eventually, it will be time to furnish and equip the house that will serve as the shelter. There will be ongoing needs for food, baby supplies, and building maintenance.
There will be – there is – work for everyone who wants to make the shelter happen and help it thrive.
Learn more about St. Gianna’s Place, about the woman whose life and example inspired the project, and how to contact the St. Gianna’s Place team for more information. Watch the St. Gianna’s Place Facebook page for updates.
Facebook’s On This Day feature served up a blast from the past today. I wrote a certain post five years ago, on International Women’s Day, a month before starting this blog, This was before I went freelance, and at that time I was working for New Hampshire’s Cornerstone Action.
I had just spent a day at the State House monitoring some life-issue votes. There were a lot of “Trust Women” stickers being sported by women who didn’t trust me. The tone at the State House hasn’t changed appreciably since then, through changes in party majorities.
By the way, by the time that 2012 session was over, New Hampshire had a partial-birth abortion ban. It wasn’t easy, and it required an override of John Lynch’s veto. Nevertheless, it was done.
You can find the full post at Granite Grok.
On Women and Trust
The hallways in the state house were lined on Wednesday with people sporting stickers emblazoned with the slogans “Trust Women” and “Stop the War on Women.” Such exhortations give me pause, inasmuch as I’m a woman, and none of my sticker-clad fellow citizens seemed inclined to trust me.
Imagine, if you will, a band of citizens bearing stickers saying “Trust Men.” Passersby would immediately think “trust men to do what?” The men wearing such stickers would be laughed out of the state house. Women wearing such stickers would have my pity, along with my fervent hope that some serious consciousness-raising would take place before the next election.
So back to trusting women. Many of Wednesday’s citizens bearing the “Trust Women” message also held signs for NARAL Pro-Choice NH and Planned Parenthood. Aha. Now I get it: the stickers are telling elected officials to trust the women who support so-called pro-choice policies. Other women are not invited to the trustfest….
I was called a neanderthal this morning at the state house by someone who saw that I was not there to support the bogus “Trust Women” campaign. I was asked “how can you call yourself a woman?” I’ve spent 30 years in the thick of civic engagement, and it takes more than being outnumbered & verbally abused to make me go away. Still, it’s telling that a fellow citizen can look at me and see not a woman or a neighbor but a neanderthal. Civility, anyone?
Head to Granite Grok for the full post.