Anticipating Senate vote, Sununu says he’d veto buffer zone repeal

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.

A door that shouldn’t be opened

Opponents of New Hampshire’s new 24-week abortion limitation – that is, fellow Granite Staters who support abortion through all nine months of pregnancy for one or another class of preborn children – finally resorted to what has always proven to be the most effective way of influencing life-issue policy: a personal story.

A Brookline woman is to give birth shortly to a child who is not expected to survive outside the womb. She stepped forward to tell her story, hoping that compassion would lead to weakening of the Fetal Life Protection Act. A heartbreaking situation, to be sure: the woman is pregnant with twins, only one of whom is deemed healthy. News reports indicate that the mother is now in the hospital awaiting delivery of her children. One of the children will go straight to NICU. The one who is reported to be medically compromised will be wrapped in a blanket and held by her parents until she passes on.

Ex-Governor Northam of Virginia explained the standard back in 2019: “There may be a fetus that’s non viable. If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” In the New Hampshire case, the discussions have already ensued.

The Brookline mother told her story to New Hampshire policymakers, who amended HB 1609 to add an FLPA exception for certain fetal anomalies. Governor Sununu supports the exception. “I do not live in extremes on either side of the issue.”

The same Union Leader article quotes Robert Dunn, public policy director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, a gentleman who frequents the same sort of legislative hearings that draw me. “This would be the first time New Hampshire would designate a particular category of children to be liable for abortion, and that’s a door we don’t think the state should open.”

Remember, the Brookline mother had no abortion. She is simply urging that the option be there for someone else.

Mr. Dunn, speaking for Bishop Peter Libasci, is gently reminding us what that option means.

header photo: Charlie Griffiths/pexels.com

More life-issue votes from March 12 session

In addition to rejecting a born-alive bill, the New Hampshire House on March 12 also rejected HB 1678-FN, the prenatal nondiscrimination act. The bill would have imposed sanctions on an abortion provider performing an abortion solely for reasons of sex selection or fetal genetic anomaly such as Down syndrome. The roll call on HB 1678-FN was 193-101 on an “inexpedient to legislate” motion. Because the motion was ITL, a “yea” vote on the roll call was a vote to kill the bill.

The House voted to send the assisted suicide bill, HB 1659-FN, to interim study. The move effectively kills the bill for this year. A subcommittee of House Judiciary is likely to meet one or more times before the end of 2020 to develop an interim study report, advising future legislatures whether to consider such a law. Opponents of assisted suicide legislation will need to show up at those yet-to-be-scheduled subcommittee sessions.

Also on March 12, the New Hampshire Senate voted “ought to pass” along party lines (Democrats in the majority) on SB 486-FN, an abortion-insurance mandate bill. The bill now goes to the House.

Related: the March 12 votes were previewed here.

House, Senate Votes coming March 11 and 12

The New Hampshire House will vote on more than 300 bills in a two-day session March 11 and 12. The Senate will meet the same days, with a somewhat less formidable agenda.

Don’t let them say they never heard from you.

If you have time Please MAKE the time to let your reps and senator know how you’d like them to vote on the bills I mention below. Don’t assume someone else or some organization will get the message across for you.

Look up your House member here. From there, you can link to a rep’s contact page. If you’re telephone shy (I am), send an email, but do it before Tuesday the 10th. They’re going to be slammed with messages.

Look up your Senator here. From there, you can link to a contact page. There’s an office number where you can leave your message.

Senate: SB 486, abortion insurance mandate

SB 486 will force some health insurance plans that cover maternity benefits to cover abortion as well. Committee recommendation is “ought to pass,” party-line vote. Thumbs down on that: SB 486 deserves an “inexpedient to legislate” vote.

Testimony at the hearing affirmed that most health insurance policies written in New Hampshire already cover abortion. That’s not enough for abortion advocates. They say “parity” demands that abortion coverage be mandated, since abortion is health care, too.

Only it isn’t.

For another view, you can read Planned Parenthood’s glowing endorsement of the bill.

House: HB 1659-FN, assisted suicide

A committee has recommended Interim Study (IS) on the assisted suicide bill. Ordinarily, I might be content with IS on a dangerous bill. Not this time. Now is the time for an emphatic NO to anything that implies assisted suicide is state-approved medical care. I’m going to ask my reps to vote “inexpedient to legislate” on HB 1659-FN.

By the way, you can skip the FNs when you communicate with your reps. It’s a designation for “fiscal note.” The bill number alone will be enough to confirm what bill you’re talking about.

I have heard both in committee and in casual conversations that some supporters of the bill are irritated that it’s being called an assisted suicide bill. They prefer the official title, “relative to patient directed care and patient’s rights with regard to end-of-life decisions.” I’ll continue to call the bill what it is: assisted suicide legislation.

I posted statements of some opponents of the bill here and here.

House: HB 1675-FN, born-alive infant protection

How can a committee recommend that a born-alive bill be killed? We’ve already seen the Senate kill such legislation this year, but couldn’t the House get it right?

Not if House members heed the Judiciary Committee’s “inexpedient to legislate” recommendation. Brace yourself for the anti-HB-1675 speech from committee chair Rep. Marjorie Smith (D-Durham).

So here we are: I am going to ask my state representatives to toss out the committee recommendation and instead vote “ought to pass” on HB 1675-FN.

House: HB 1678-FN, eugenic abortion

A few minutes after voting ITL along party lines on the born-alive bill, the Judiciary Committee also gave thumbs down to HB 1678-FN, which would penalize abortion providers who provide an abortion strictly for reasons of sex selection or genetic anomaly. One Republican, Ned Gordon of Bristol, joined the committee Democrats in voting ITL, so now this recommendation can be touted as “bipartisan.”

And so what? Again, I’m going to ask my reps to flip the committee report and instead vote “ought to pass” on HB 1678-FN.

Keep At It

In a spirit of peace and persistence, in spite of the likely math, make the calls or send the emails. The legislators are burdened with a huge agenda (a self-imposed burden, to be sure), and debate fatigue is sure to go along with it. They’re getting paid a hundred bucks a year to process all that information. Help them out with your short & sweet message. Thank them for their service.

Remember – don’t let them say they never heard from you.

Looking to 2020: State Legislation

More than a thousand bills have piled up, awaiting hearings in the 2020 session of the New Hampshire General Court – or legislature, to use a less exalted term. Another bill to be voted on is a holdover from this year, which deserves your notice.

Anti-Trafficking Bill To Be Voted On In January

The retained bill is HB 201, which will get a House vote in early January. It seeks to increase the allowable penalty for adults buying sex from minors. It should not have been held over – “retained” is the technical term. Passage last spring would have been the right outcome. Survivors of juvenile sex trafficking supported the bill with compelling testimony. One of them will be a familiar name to longtime readers: Darlene Pawlik, who was an absolute showstopper who called out nonsense when she heard it.

I’ll make a long, infuriating story short, with a note that an organization called Decriminalize Sex Work has hired New Hampshire lobbyists to advance its agenda: HB 201 was retained by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. After consideration this past fall, the committee voted to recommend Ought to Pass on the bill. The full House is likely to vote on that recommendation on January 8 or 9. Good excuse for contacting your state reps, in my humble opinion: YES on the OTP motion for retained bill HB 201.

Thumbs up to chief sponsor Rep. Linda Massimilla (D-Littleton) and her co-sponsors, and to Rep. Nancy Murphy (D-Merrimack) who wrote the committee OTP recommendation for her colleagues.

No Hearings Yet

For all the bills described below, there are no hearings scheduled yet. Watch this blog and its related Facebook page for updates as the House and Senate calendars are published. As it happens, all these bills will start in the House Judiciary Committee, even if their subject matter might seem to fit better elsewhere. Such decisions are made by finer minds than mine.

Enshrining Abortion Into N.H. Constitution

Watch out for CACR 14. This is a proposed constitutional amendment, which in order to pass will have to get a three-fifths vote in the House, three-fifths in the Senate, and then two-thirds from voters in next November’s general election. The governor has no substantive say in the process. Here we go:

“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.”

It doesn’t say “abortion.” It doesn’t have to, in order to place abortion squarely into the New Hampshire constitution as a protected right – a right “inviolate and fundamental.”

You’ll forgive me if I shout at you about this one. Silence implies consent to the amendment’s corollary: that there is no inherent “right” to life, only a privilege to be conferred by others. Now that’s discrimination.

Sponsors: Reps. Timothy Smith (D-Manchester), Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham), Catherine Sofikitis (D-Nashua), Sherry Frost (D-Dover), Heidi Hamer (D-Manchester), Chuck Grassie (D-Rochester), Arthur Ellison (D-Concord).

Born-Alive Infants Protection

HB 1675 (chief sponsor Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien, R-Derry) seeks to assure medically appropriate care and treatment for any infant born alive following an attempted abortion.

The bill would be a step toward making New Hampshire a bit less Gosnell-friendly. I look forward to reporting on who supports it and who opposes it at the hearing.

Assisted Suicide

After two years of trying to “study” assisted suicide via end-of-life related bills, advocates of assisted suicide have come out with a straightforward bill. HB 1659-FN has nine co-sponsors, led by Rep. Catt Sandler (D-Somersworth). The analysis in the heading of the bill says it “allows a mentally competent person who is 18 years of age or older and who has been diagnosed as having a terminal disease by the patient’s attending physician and a consulting physician to request a prescription for medication which will enable the patient to control the time, place, and manner of such patient’s death.”

You might wonder “what’s with the FN in the bill number?” FN means “fiscal note,” and it’s attached to any bill that is expected to cost money. Such bills go to the Finance Committee for a closer look (and a second full-chamber vote) if they pass the full House or Senate after the first committee is done with it.

While we’re on the subject: the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, whose USA affiliate is headed by former New Hampshire legislator Nancy Elliott, is a good source of information. I’ll cite others as HB 1659 makes its way through the legislative process.

Prenatal Non-Discrimination

The co-sponsors of HB 1678-FN think that Down syndrome, genetic abnormalities, and being an undesired sex shouldn’t call for a death sentence. The bill would prohibit abortions performed solely for one or more of those reasons. Chief sponsor is Rep. Abigail Rooney (R-Milton).

The bill calls for a limited penalty for violations by the abortion provider: liability for damages, and revocation or suspension of medical license if the provider has one. This is not a let’s-jail-abortionists bill. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone tries to say otherwise. Further, no penalty would attach to the mother of the child, and her anonymity in any ensuing civil action would be protected.

Heartbeat Bill

Into this Gosnell-friendly state comes HB 1475-FN, sponsored by Rep. Dave Testerman (R-Franklin) and Rep. Walt Stapleton (R-Claremont). It would prohibit abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat.

Parental Notification

HB 1640-FN (chief sponsor Rep. Werner Horn, R-Franklin) would repeal the judicial-bypass provision of the New Hampshire law requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortion.

If this bill should pass and be signed by Governor Sununu, it would pose a challenge to U.S. Supreme Court rulings on parental-involvement-in-abortion laws dating back to 1976. See the testimony of Americans United for Life on a Florida parental involvement law from March 2019.

So – ready to roll? I’ve already picked out my favorite parking space near the Legislative Office Building. It’s going to get a workout in 2020.