House votes to gut Fetal Life Protection Act

The New Hampshire House has passed HB 224 on a 205-178 roll call, sending to the Senate a bill stripping penalties from the Fetal Life Protection Act and thus rendering FLPA useless. Governor Sununu has indicated he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

The Senate hasn’t scheduled a hearing on HB 224 yet, but that doesn’t matter: contact your senator now. The Senate must stop HB 224 so it never reaches the Governor’s desk.

We have a governor who wants to be able to say he signed New Hampshire’s first abortion rollback in a quarter century – hey, look at me! I’m moderate, not an extremist! – while also rendering that rollback unenforceable. Unregulated induced abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy would once again be state policy, if the governor were to sign HB 224, or even if he were to let the bill become law without his signature. He would be able to tout “moderation” in appearance while being an abortion extremist in practice.

That asinine political gamesmanship will only be called off if the Senate kills HB 224.

The House roll call on the vote is at this link (go to left side of that web page and click under “House roll calls”). Motion was “ought to pass,” so a “yea” vote was a vote to remove penalties from FLPA. All the Democrats present voted Yea, while 16 Republicans joined them. And by the way, the chief sponsor of HB 224 was a Republican.

Repeat after me: pro-life is not spelled G-O-P. Every single senator, regardless of party, needs to hear from constituents on this. The governor is enormously influential with his fellow Republicans. Those Republicans need to be reminded whom they were elected to serve.

There will be a Senate hearing on HB 224 at some point. I’ll report once that’s on the schedule. That will be a good day to take off work, bring the kids, carpool with your friends, tell your pro-life friends in neighboring states what’s going on, and show up for however long it takes to look those five Senate committee members in the eye and tell them you are NOT okay with HB 224.

For its encore, House voted to declare abortion “vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals”

HB 88, the counterpart to SB 181 recently killed by the Senate, was passed by the House today, 199-185. That one was on a division vote, not a roll call, so no rep’s name is associated with a vote. HB 88, titled “relative to reproductive rights,” would prohibit abortion regulations other than the ones already on the books. Right now, FLPA is on the books, with a 24-week abortion limit. If the governor signs HB 224 removing penalties from FLPA, nothing will prevent the performance of abortion at any point in pregnancy. HB 88 calls abortion “vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals,” in case there’s any doubt about the extremism behind the bill.

Ah, but the Senate will kill it, you might be thinking. I do not share such optimism. The Senate killed SB 181, but HB 88 gives the abortion advocates another bite at the apple. If only three senators flip their votes, HB 88 will pass.

Outright repeal of FLPA, HB 271, failed today on a tie vote and was then tabled. (Yes, it was that close.) The threatened constitutional amendment, CACR 2, didn’t come close to the 60% support it needed. As I write this, it’s midday and the House still has its afternoon session ahead, with more votes to come. I’ll edit this post as needed.

Links to roll calls and vote information

The General Court website is the source for this information. I’ve listed the two bills featured in this post first, followed by the rest of the life-issue bills I’ve reported on so far this session. Each bill has its own information page on the General Court website; to find out who voted how, look at the left side of the bill’s page and click underneath “House Roll Calls.” Note that for division and voice votes, there are no names associated with the votes and therefore there’s no roll call.

HB 224, to repeal penalties on late-term-abortion providers under the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA), : the vote was 205-178 on an “Ought to Pass” motion. A Yea vote was a vote to expand abortion by making FLPA unenforceable.

HB 88, as described above, was killed via division vote rather than a roll call. Representatives thus avoided being held accountable for their votes on this bill.

CACR 2, a constitutional amendment to enshrine abortion in the state constitution: the vote was 193-191 on an “Ought to Pass” motion, which is short of the 60% required for a constitutional amendment to pass the House. A Yea vote was a vote to make abortion constitutionally protected.

HB 271, to repeal FLPA altogether: the bill was tabled on a voice vote after an “Ought to Pass” motion was defeated on a tie vote, 192-192. A Yea on the “Ought to Pass” motion was a vote to repeal New Hampshire’s 24-week abortion limitation and thus keep abortion unregulated throughout pregnancy.

HB 582, abortion statistics, was killed on a division vote: 205-177 on an “Inexpedient to Legislate” motion.

HB 591, a “heartbeat bill: prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, was defeated on a 271-110 vote on an “Inexpedient to Legislate” motion.

HB 615, requiring independent audits of “reproductive health facilities” to ensure that no public funds are used for abortion, was tabled on a division vote, 354-29, effectively killing the bill.

The following bills were killed on voice votes (no roll call, no count) on “Inexpedient to Legislate” motions: HB 346, a born-alive infant protection bill, and HB 562, informed consent for abortion;

Life-issue bills are headed for NH House; Senate defeats pro-abortion bill

The New Hampshire Senate on March 9 killed a bill to declare abortion  “vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals.” SB 181 died when the Senate voted 14-10 to support an “inexpedient to legislate motion.” The vote was along party lines, with all ten Democrats in the minority. The same ten senators had co-sponsored the measure.

Now is a good time to thank your senator, if she or he is one of the fourteen Republicans. Their votes killed SB 181.

Other bills heading to the House floor; watch out for HB 224

If you don’t have time to read any further, at least read this: tell your state representatives to vote inexpedient to legislate on HB 224-FN, repealing penalties from the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA). Find your representatives’ contact information on the General Court website.

On the House side, nine life-issue bills await action. The full House, coming up against its “crossover” deadline, will meet in at least three sessions between March 16 and 23 to consider committee recommendations.

The Judiciary Committee tied 10-10 on four bills proposed by abortion advocates, meaning those bills will go the full House without a recommendation. The committee voted to recommend “inexpedient to legislate” on three bills with pro-life sponsors. (See descriptions of all these bills in this blog’s February 25 post.) Those bills are not on the calendar for the March 16 House session, so they will not come up for a vote until the following week.

That gives you time to reach out to your state representatives. The recent Senate vote tells me that sweeping pro-abortion measures, even if passed by the House, won’t make it past the Senate. Abortion-friendly measures masquerading as “moderate,” however, pose a much bigger threat. That means representatives need to hear loud and clear to vote inexpedient to legislate on HB 224-FN, which would repeal penalties from the Fetal Life Protection Act. Those penalties – civil, not criminal – apply to abortion providers who illegally perform abortions post-24-weeks. Without the penalties, the Fetal Life Protection Act becomes unenforceable.

I won’t buy any excuses from a representative – or a governor, for that matter – who supports gutting FLPA now after supporting it when it passed in 2021. A vote to pass HB 224 will be a vote to return New Hampshire to keeping abortion effectively legal through all nine months of pregnancy.

The same batch of bills coming out of Judiciary includes, among other things, a born-alive infant protection act (HB 346-FN) and and outright repeal of FLPA (HB 271-FN).

Don’t forget the HHSEA stats and audit bills

I’m still waiting to hear what the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs (HHSEA) committee will do on two other bills, covered on this blog in January. HB 582-FN is an abortion statistics bill, and HB 615-FN calls for audits of reproductive health facilities to ensure that public funds are not being directly used for abortion. Both bills deserve support.

All committee recommendations must go to the full House shortly, so the House will vote on both of those bills soon. They are not on the March 16 House calendar.

More from House calendar, week of March 15

The New Hampshire House will meet on Tuesday, March 15, for what may turn into a three-day session given the number of bills on the calendar. I’ve written about some bills passing through the Judiciary Committee, as well as a conscience bill out of Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs. Those bill’s are on the week’s agenda.

Identify and contact your representatives

For any or all of these bills, you can contact your representatives before Tuesday’s session. Email is quick, but it’s also the most common. Most reps will get more than a thousand emails this week. Make your point in the subject line: identify yourself as a constituent when you write to your own reps, cite the bill number, and include “please vote [ITL for inexpedient to legislate or OTP for ought to pass].” As an example, in emailing my own reps about buffer zone repeal, I’d make the subject line “[name of town] resident, please vote OTP on HB 1625.” The legislators might not have time to read more than that. That’s what happens when several hundred bills come up in the same week.

Conscience protection for medical professionals, HB 1080

The recommendation from the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee is Ought to Pass (OTP) on HB 1080, protecting medical professionals who choose not to participate in abortion, sterilization, or artificial contraception services. The vote was 11-10 along party lines with Republicans in the majority, so there will certainly be a debate on the House floor. Voting Ought to Pass on conscience protections ought to be easy, but this bill faces stiff opposition.

Putting abortion into the NH Constitution, CACR 18

CACR 18 is a proposed amendment to the New Hampshire constitution “providing that the state shall not infringe or unduly inconvenience the right of reproductive medical decisions.” “Inconvenience”??? Even the Judiciary Committee with its abortion-friendly majority was taken aback by this one. The committee recommendation is Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL). The House ought to agree. Because this is a proposed constitutional amendment, a two-thirds OTP vote by the full House will be necessary to advance it. A high bar, for sure, but take nothing for granted. Push for the ITL.

Heartbeat bill, HB 1477

HB 1477 would prohibit abortion in most cases after detection of a fetal heartbeat. Judiciary Committee recommendation: ITL on an 11-10 vote with one Republican joining Democrats to make the difference. In order to pass HB 1477, the House needs to overturn the committee recommendation and then vote OTP.

Buffer zone repeal, HB 1625

I’ve written at length about this bill and the deeply flawed report from the Judiciary Committee that recommended “inexpedient to legislate.” My own recommendation: overturn the committee report, and vote Ought to Pass on HB 1625, repealing New Hampshire’s unenforced buffer zone law that seeks to discourage peaceful prolife witness outside abortion facilities.

Gutting the Fetal Life Protection Act, HB 1673

This one is similar to HB 1609, which regrettably has already passed the House. New Hampshire’s Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA), a 24-week abortion restriction, has been in effect only a short time. HB 1673 as passed by the Judiciary Committee would render it meaningless. The committee’s recommendation on an 11-10 vote is “ought to pass with amendment” (amendment #2022-0730h), a version that would weaken FLPA. The House ought to overturn that recommendation and instead vote for the committee minority’s recommendation to pass the bill with another amendment (#2022-0688h) that simply clarifies FLPA’s ultrasound provision. In brief: support the minority report on HB 1673.

The sponsors of HB 1673 revealed their intentions in the original version of the bill, calling it a repeal of FLPA. Now, the chief sponsor has put her name on the majority’s amendment. It would apparently serve her purpose. ‘Nuff said.

“Relative to reproductive rights,” HB 1674

Judiciary has recommended ITL on an 11-8 vote. The committee got this one right. HB 1674 would establish that NH “shall not restrict or interfere with an individual’s exercise of their private decision to terminate a pregnancy” except as already provided in law. This is meant to prevent New Hampshire from enacting new abortion regulations even if the Supreme Court kicks Roe to the curb. This one definitely deserves an ITL.

Postscript: fathers’ role in abortions, HB 1181

HB 1181, which would have given biological fathers a right to seek a court injunction to prevent the abortion of their children, was sent to Interim Study by the House earlier this month. This effectively kills the bill. It is not one of the bills on the House calendar for the coming week.

Buffer zone repeal, 2022: House to vote week of March 15

Amidst an extremely long agenda on the New Hampshire House calendar for next week, buffer zone repeal – HB 1625 – awaits action. The Judiciary Committee on a 12-9 vote is recommending “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL). The full House in its multi-day session will vote on the bill sometime between Tuesday, March 15, and Thursday, March 17.

Identify your representatives by checking the House roster by town. Click on each name to find contact information. As them to overturn the Judiciary Committee’s ITL recommendation on HB 1625, and instead support a motion of “ought to pass” (OTP). You may find that you belong to two districts, and if that’s the case, contact all the representatives listed. If you send email, be sure your subject line is clear, since that may be the only thing a rep has time to read: “From a constituent: please vote OTP on HB 1625.”

Why HB 1625 deserves special attention

There will be other life-issue bills on the House calendar, and I will address those in a separate post. Why single out buffer zone repeal for special attention? Certainly the First Amendment implications are important, but there’s another reason. The committee’s majority report recommending ITL contains two falsehoods. Any representative supporting the ITL recommendation will be embracing them.

I cast no aspersions on Rep. Mark Paige (D-Exeter), who wrote the majority report. He may have depended on unreliable sources. All the more reason to clear up the false information.

New Hampshire’s buffer zone law threatens the right of peaceful pro-life witnesses to be present on public property outside abortion facilities. The law has never been enforced since its 2014 passage. Nevertheless, it remains a stain on our statutes.

No, the buffer zone law was NOT drafted to follow Supreme Court guidelines

From the Judiciary Committee’s minority report, which is printed in the House calendar and may be the only thing most reps read about HB 1625: “…the drafters of our current buffer law carefully crafted it after the [U.S. Supreme] Court decided McCullen, thus with particular knowledge of the constitutional limits of buffer zone laws.”

That is four-alarm nonsense.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCullen v. Coakley, striking down the Massachusetts buffer zone law on which New Hampshire’s law was based, was handed down on June 26, 2014. (You can read the case itself and my commentary written at the time the case was decided.)

New Hampshire’s buffer zone law was introduced on December 17, 2013, passed by the House in February 2014, passed by the Senate in May 2014, and signed by then-Governor Maggie Hassan on June 10, 2014. That’s 16 days before the Supreme Court handed down McCullen.

The governor and every legislator knew perfectly well that the McCullen case was pending in the Court. They enabled the New Hampshire buffer zone law anyway.

So much for being “carefully crafted” after McCullen.

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