Rep. Rideout: why I’m filing Griffin’s Law

Rep. Leon Rideout (facebook.com/rideout4rep)

Rep. Leon Rideout (facebook.com/rideout4rep)

In New Hampshire, when a pregnant woman loses her preborn child to an act of violence or other wrongful act – a child she wants and has chosen to carry to term – there is no crime. The statutes have nothing to say. It would take a fetal homicide law to change that.

Such laws are in place in other states, and the New Hampshire Supreme Court in the 2009 Lamy case urged the legislature to pass one. The last effort passed House and Senate but fell to Gov. John Lynch’s veto in 2012. Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) is undeterred and is bringing back a fetal homicide bill that he’s calling Griffin’s Law. Why, when a similar bill failed so recently?

Because it’s personal. Griffin was his grandson.

I contacted Rep. Rideout recently and asked him about his bill. Here are excerpts from his written reply.

 On June 4th one of my daughters was involved in an auto accident when another driver ran a stop sign at a high rate of speed into the path of my daughter’s car. She was approximately 7½ months pregnant with Griffin…. [M]y daughter suffered serious injuries….While trying to stabilize her for a Med flight to Dartmouth, Griffin took a turn for the worse and despite an emergency C section and a 40 minute fight to resuscitate Him Griffin succumbed to injuries from the crash.
Current state law does not provide for homicide or manslaughter charges for the death of a child under such circumstances. There is simply no victim, as the Court reluctantly concluded in Lamy. As Justice Duggan wrote for a unanimous Court in that case, “Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.”
Rideout calls Lynch’s veto of the last fetal homicide bill “a black mark forever on his legacy.” Regarding the Lamy case, Rideout says he’s familiar with it, and finds “repugnant” the fact no such bill has been passed in response. “It was clear the Court was asking for the legislature to correct the law’s language….[T]his issue will not go away.”
Rideout’s bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing but is likely to come before a House committee in January.
related posts on the 2012 fetal homicide bill:

Pick of the Web 12/13/13

Help yourself to a weekend’s worth of links!

A terrible auto collision on I-89 a few days ago has highlighted once again the crying need for a fetal homicide law in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Union Leader reports here on the deaths of two adults and a preborn child who were killed when a man attempted suicide by driving into oncoming traffic. The suicidal man survived the wreck and is facing charges. Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) has introduced a fetal homicide bill for consideration in 2014; more on that here on the blog next week.

I love March for Life’s suggestions for what to do with a bored Member of Congress. Not every suggestion requires being an elected official, so look them over and see what inspires you.

South Africa’s Nelson Mandela has died at age 95. A leader of immense persistence and influence, his renunciation of political violence unfortunately did not extend to a rejection of abortion. Dr. Alveda King recalls him with respect and candor in “How I Failed Nelson Mandela.”

The latest annual report from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is out, showing that PP benefited from half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding in the most recent fiscal year. The Susan B. Anthony List has prepared a fact sheet about the report, and National Right to Life’s Dave Andrusko writes about Five Takeaways From PPFA’s Annual Report.

Anyone who thinks Pope Francis is going to put aside Catholic teaching on respect for life needs to catch up on some reading. Yesterday, he called human trafficking “a crime against humanity … whoever uses and exploits the person, even indirectly, makes himself an accomplice of this abuse.”  Last Sunday, he challenged “throwaway culture” (cultura di scarto). “The victims of such a culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings – the unborn, the poorest people, sick elderly people, gravely disabled people… who are in danger of being ‘thrown out,’ expelled from a machine that must be efficient at all costs. This false model of man and society embodies a practical atheism, de facto negating the Word of God that says: ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.’

The European Parliament narrowly rejected a nonbinding policy that would have promoted abortion as a “right.” The matter is sure to come up again.

Southern New Hampshire food pantries and soup kitchens need our help. You can find opportunities to donate and volunteer at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, Corpus Christi food pantry in Nashua, New Horizons in Manchester, and the New Hampshire Food Bank.

Five reasons (so far) to watch NH legislators in 2014

New Hampshire State HouseJanuary’s still three months off, and as of this writing 355 proposals for bills have been filed in Concord. The complete list of these LSRs, or legislative service requests, is here.  It’s always interesting to get a preview of coming attractions. This is a simple list of sponsors and topics; the texts of the bills haven’t been prepared yet. Other sponsors will undoubtedly sign on to these proposals later in the drafting process.

Abortion. Rep. Kathleen Souza (R-Manchester) is proposing bills regarding licensure of abortion facilities and collection of abortion statistics. An aside: A post I wrote recently mentioning the lack of a stats bill in NH drew an objection from a reader, who said I had no statistics about abortion’s effect on women to support my concern that we need statistics to measure abortion’s effect on women. Got that?

Death penalty. Rep. Robert “Renny” Cushing (D-Hampton), whose father was murdered in 1988, is once again introducing a bill to repeal the death penalty in New Hampshire. I oppose the death penalty, after years of being ambivalent about it. I have attended hearings on death-penalty bills before, and I am always struck by how many abortion advocates oppose the death penalty and how many defenders of the unborn support it. Time after time, the most consistent voice, defending the right to life for preborn children as well as for condemned murderers, comes from representatives of the Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

Another Dominick’s Law? Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) has an LSR to “include ‘fetus’ in the definition of ‘another’ for the purpose of certain criminal offenses.” Another fetal homicide bill, perhaps? If so, recall that in 2012, only a last-minute desperation move by abortion advocates prevented an override of Gov. Lynch’s veto of a similar bill.

Suicide. Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter) wants to see suicide prevention programs in schools. Rep. Tim O’Flaherty (D-Manchester) has submitted a pair of LSRs relative to suicide, including one to create an affirmative defense for a person who aids or assists someone to commit suicide. Interesting juxtaposition there.

Establishing a committee to study end-of-life decisions. Rep. Charles Weed (D-Keene) is back. Recall what one of his colleagues had to say the last time Weed sponsored an “end-of-life” bill.

Stay tuned for more clues about the 2014 session. At this point, no LSR has been posted online about repealing New Hampshire’s parental notification law.

 

 

 

 

The Rest of the Veto Day 2012: Partial-Birth Ban is Law, Fetal Homicide Falls Just Short

The House’s override of the HB 1679 veto (partial-birth) augured well for the day. The Senate followed suit a little later, on an 18-5 straight-party-line vote. The bill is due to go into effect next January 1, although I have a sneaking suspicion that someone will try to enjoin it.

This is an enormous victory. I’ve spent enough time in the trenches to know one when I see one.

Fetal homicide, HB 217, fell short on a vote of 201-126. A majority in the House, to be sure, but not quite the two-thirds needed to send it to the Senate. Reps. Kathleen Souza (R-Manchester) and Warren Groen (R-Rochester) argued for the bill today on the House floor. Governor Lynch got spanked today, with several of his vetoes being overturned, so he may be particularly gratified that he managed to make this one stick.

Dominick Emmons and his mother got no justice today. I told their story in an earlier post: http://bit.ly/L2Q3Of

The death of Dominick Emmons led to the Lamy case in which the state supreme court called on the legislature to clean up the state laws regarding the death of a fetus. Most of the legislators were willing to do that, despite Governor Lynch’s veto. The override vote was complicated when RESOLVE, a national support group for families dealing with infertility, teamed up with NARAL to hand out anti-HB217 flyers to legislators this morning.

Huh?

You read that right. After the bill had its Senate hearing but before the original Senate vote, abortion advocates went to work looking for allies. The usual suspects – PPNNE, NARAL – found a threat to Roe v. Wade where none existed, and they managed to whip up fear that a fetal homicide law would stop in vitro fertilization and other forms of assisted reproduction. That WOULD NOT HAPPEN under HB 217, for the simple reason that the bill includes language exempting from prosecution anyone acting with a woman’s consent – even a lab tech discarding surplus embryos (children)  from IVF.

I wonder if some of the pro-life women struggling with infertility know that RESOLVE has made common cause with abortion advocates to fight fetal homicide laws. Next time, sponsors will need to keep that in mind as they build the coalition that will get this legislation over the top next time it’s introduced.

Raise your glass and toast the reps who refused to fall for the fear factor – especially Kathy Souza, who has been promoting fetal homicide legislation for a couple of decades now, since long before she was a state rep. Manchester ward 4 can be proud of her.

One More Day to Press For Overrides

Share, link, re-post, if I may be so bold: One more full day remains in which to email and call New Hampshire state representatives and senators before they take up Governor Lynch’s numerous vetoes on Wednesday morning. The fetal homicide and partial-birth-abortion bills have already made history by getting to the governor’s desk. Overriding his vetoes will put these bills into law, where they belong. Failure to override will mean delay, not defeat, since both bills will surely return in future sessions for however long it takes to enact them.

The outcome remains uncertain, in my estimation. Abortion advocacy groups have mobilized their clients and supporters. Their bitter opposition to these bills is ironic and irrational, since neither bill prevents abortion. (Getting around a partial-birth ban is simply a matter of choosing another abortion method.) I won’t unpack those arguments today, having done so at length in earlier posts.

Here’s the link to Cornerstone Policy Research’s message about the bills, including where to find contact information for representatives: http://bit.ly/Mp1YnG 

I’ll be in the House gallery Wednesday at 10 a.m. to listen to the debates, and maybe do some last-minute lobbying. The House and Senate sessions will also be streamed online; look for the link on the left side of the House/Senate home page at gencourt.state.nh.us. I warn you, though, sometimes the demand gets ahead of the bandwidth, making the feeds somewhat unreliable on busy days. I’ll be on Twitter (@nhflatlander) to comment during the debate, and I’ll post vote results here.

School choice & voter ID will be up as well, and those are both important policy initiatives. First things first, though. Let’s get the life issues in order.

 

Lynch Strikes Again; Vetoes Fetal Homicide Bill

Late Monday afternoon, Governor Lynch vetoed House Bill 217 – the fetal homicide bill, Dominick’s Law. I have blogged about this bill many times, beginning here. In response to the veto, I wrote the following statement today on behalf of Cornerstone Policy Research, where I serve as VP for Government Affairs.


By vetoing HB 217, the fetal homicide bill, Governor Lynch has managed to get three things wrong at once. He has misread the bill, he has ignored the reasonable concerns of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and he has done what he can to make sure that drunk drivers and abusive partners are not held responsible for actions that put an end to a woman’s wanted pregnancy. 

The first concern the governor stated in his veto message was that the bill would allow the state to prosecute a pregnant woman for causing the death of the fetus. This is absolutely false. The first full paragraph of the bill is very clear: the bill does not apply to any act performed by a pregnant woman, or any act done with her consent, that causes the death of a fetus. This concern was raised and addressed repeatedly in the legislative hearings on this bill. 
The New Hampshire Supreme Court in the 2009 case State v. Lamy was forced to overturn a drunk driver’s conviction for causing the death of Dominick Emmons, whose premature birth was triggered by injuries sustained by his mother in the collision, and whose death two weeks later was a result of the trauma he sustained. The unanimous decision of the Court included a plea to the legislature: “Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.” The legislature did just that, and now Governor Lynch is inventing excuses to block this needed legislation.
Finally, while a woman has the legal right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, a woman’s choice to carry a pregnancy deserves respect and legal protection as well. Just as “viability” has no bearing in New Hampshire on the right to terminate a pregnancy, “viability” should have no bearing on the right to carry a pregnancy to term. Anytime a pregnant woman loses her baby against her will due to another’s wrongful act, a crime has been committed and the state should have the tools to respond accordingly. The family of Dominick Emmons surely knows that, the New Hampshire Supreme Court knows that, and the New Hampshire House and Senate know that. Governor Lynch’s refusal to bring New Hampshire law on this subject into the 21st century can best be met with an override.

Friday Assortment: Run for Office, Wait for Vetoes, Watch the Court

If you want to run for state office as a member of a political party later this year, you have until 5 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, June 15) to file. The primary election will be held on September 11, and the general election follows on November 6. What’s your pleasure? State rep, maybe? Two bucks and a trip to your town clerk to fill out the paperwork will make you a candidate. Prospective delegates to the GOP state convention register with town clerks as well, with no filing fee. Other offices – state senate, executive council, county offices, governor, Congress – must file at the Secretary of State’s office in Concord. Filing information   is here.

A special note to my Republican readers: running to be a delegate to the state convention costs you nothing, and winning a seat requires nothing more than a couple of meetings. If the party platform matters to you, this is a job for you.

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Governor Lynch has begun plowing through the pile of bills on his desk, and he has found his veto pen. An education tax credit bill is the latest victim. The fetal homicide bill still awaits action. The House and Senate are scheduled to meet on June 27 to deal with vetoed bills.

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The current U.S. Supreme Court session will end in a couple of weeks, with a ruling expected on some aspects of the president’s health care plan. The unlikeliest outcome is that the plan will be struck down altogether. If that happy event comes to pass, the HHS mandate will be dead. The Court could find the plan constitutional in all aspects (perish the thought), or constitutional in part. In either of those situations, the lawsuits against the mandate will continue, challenging its inherent religious liberty violation.

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A “Fortnight for Religious Freedom” begins next Thursday, June 21, and ends on Independence Day, July 4. Organized by Catholics who have been moved to action by the mandate, the two-week observance is for anyone who’s ready to pray, study, and act to defend our First Amendment heritage. Find more information  here.