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.

NH GOP CD2 candidates Garcia & Lambert have a voting record on the life issues

New Hampshire’s Second District Congresswoman, Democrat Ann Kuster, has a battle ahead of her next year. There will be at least two Republicans competing to get past the GOP primary and onto the November ballot.

Col. Gary Lambert (photo from Google public profile)

Col. Gary Lambert (photo from Google public profile)

Rep. Marilinda Garcia (photo from marilindagarcia.com)

Rep. Marilinda Garcia (photo from marilindagarcia.com)

Gary Lambert served as state senator from Nashua for one term. His campaign web site highlights his experience as a Marine Corps veteran, but I still think of him as Senator Lambert. Marilinda Garcia is serving her fourth term as a state representative from Salem and is now seeking the CD2 seat. Both candidates’ web sites emphasize economic issues.

So where are they on the right to life? Their Concord records look good, based on votes in 2012. Lambert was on the short end of some Senate votes to shunt aside good bills, indicating his willingness to keep conversations going even when there was no straight-up-or-down vote at stake.

HB 217, fetal homicide (I wrote an overview of the bill here): Lambert and Garcia supported the bill. When Governor John Lynch vetoed it, Garcia voted to override the veto. The House override vote fell just short of the necessary two-thirds.

HB 228, prohibiting the use of public funds for abortion services: Garcia voted yes. When the bill got to the Senate, it was tabled, with Lambert opposing the tabling motion.

HB 1659, Women’s Right to Know (informed consent for abortion): Garcia was absent from the final House vote on the bill, but she earlier opposed a motion to kill it. The Senate killed the bill, with Lambert voting against the Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) motion.

HB 1660, to limit post-20-week abortions: Garcia voted yes. In the Senate, where the bill was sent to interim study and never heard from again, Lambert opposed the interim study motion.

HB 1679, a ban on partial-birth abortion, which passed and is now on the books: Garcia and Lambert supported the bill, and they both voted to override Gov. Lynch’s veto. This one did not affect the legality of abortion overall; it just ruled out the killing of a partially-emerged child as an abortion method. Remember that when abortion advocates start calling Garcia or Lambert “anti-choice.”

HB 1680, abortion statistics: here’s a weird one. Rep. Garcia was the chief sponsor of a bill calling for the collection of abortion statistics. It passed, but it did nothing to bring stats reporting to New Hampshire. It was amended into nothingness.The final bill called on the Health and Human Services committee to set up a subcommittee to advise the General Court (House & Senate) “on the collection of data regarding induced termination of pregnancy statistics.” There was never any follow-up. This paper “win” was therefore not substantive. For what it’s worth, the gutted bill passed both Houses without a recorded roll call (division vote in House, voice vote in Senate).

HCR 31, commending pregnancy care centers that provide life-affirming options without doing abortions: Garcia voted for the resolution in the House, where it passed by a single vote. The Senate passed it on a voice vote.

HCR 41, urging Congress to find the U.S. grant to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England null and void: this was a way for legislators to express their annoyance at the federal government for helping PPNNE get around the state’s decision to reject its Title X contract in 2011. Garcia voted yes, Lambert voted no, and the resolution failed.

I can attest to the calm and respectful manner in which both candidates conducted themselves at the State House during hearings and discussions on these bills. They have the temperament of bridge-builders. It remains to be seen how that holds up during what is sure to be a lively campaign.

 

 

 

Schedule announced for New Hampshire’s March for Life January 2014

New Hampshire Right to Life has just released the schedule for next months’s March for Life in Concord. The date is Saturday, January 18, a few days ahead of the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

9 a.m. at the Concord Landfill on Airport Drive: memorial service for the preborn children whose remains were found discarded in municipal trash years ago. At that time, prolife activists sought and were refused permission to relocate the remains. Every year since, prolife New Hampshire’s observance of Roe has begun with a brief public service at the landfill’s gate.

10 a.m.: Catholic Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church, 72 South Main Street, about a mile south of the State House

11:15 a.m.: rally on the State House plaza. Address is 107 N. Main, but you can just look for the golden dome. Bring a sign if you’d like, or pick one up at the rally.

Jeanneane Maxon of Americans United for Life (courtesy nhrtl.org)

Jeanneane Maxon of Americans United for Life (courtesy nhrtl.org)

11:45 a.m.: march from the State House, proceeding south on Main Street past the Feminist Health Center (an abortion facility), ending at St. John the Evangelist Church

1 p.m.: program at St. John’s parish center. Hot drinks and food will be available. It’s all free, but bring a donation if you can.

The principal speaker at the program will be Jeanneane Maxon, an attorney with Americans United for Life. I last spoke with her when she came to New Hampshire to testify in favor of the House resolution supporting pregnancy care centers in 2012. Along with the testimony by directors of PCCs in New Hampshire, Jeanneane’s calm and clear presentation to the legislative committee helped to assure that PCCs got the support from the House they deserved. Jeanneane is also on the board of Abby Johnson’s And Then There Were None, the ministry to workers who choose to leave the abortion industry.

Bundle up against the January cold and come to Concord! If the march itself is a problem for you because the weather is bitter or you have limited mobility or you’re traveling with fussy little ones, you can go straight to St. John’s at midday and meet up with the marchers as they arrive.

Photos of 2013’s event here.

Guest Post: Are Legacy Republicans In New Hampshire Nothing But Summer Soldiers and Sunshine Patriots? Thoughts on policy and party by Steve MacDonald

[My thanks go to Steve MacDonald, blogger/editor at GraniteGrok.com, for this guest post. Steve is a pro-life liberty-loving New Hampshire neighbor. I put a question to him: does he see any connection between pro-lifers and libertarians who are disenchanted with the Republican party, where so many such individuals once felt at home? Here’s his reply. I look forward to comments.]

The Republican 80-20 rule doesn’t apply to New Hampshire Libertarians, Conservatives, or anyone that has ever considered themselves aligned with the TEA Party.  You are with the Republican establishment or against them.  “Against them” means failing or refusing to toe any line laid before you by the NH-GOP or the folks with the money and power that yank their pull-strings.

Objecting to the musings of party-mouthpieces is met with varying degrees of outrage.   If you offend enough of the right people you can expect to get a phone call or to be ushered aside at the earliest opportunity for a trip to the proverbial woodshed.

Now to put this in proper perspective, the left is no different, but socialism is a compliance-based world-view that relies on cookie-cutter obedience.  Falling out of formation is not permitted, but almost everything else is.  So as long as you are throwing bricks—real or rhetorical—for the benefit of leviathan-centrally-planned-government it is difficult to go wrong.   But the left always defines the terms, the ruling class always gets better terms, and everyone else is a foot soldier for that cause or its enemy.

On the right the idea of conformance is not to orders and government but to ideals and principles.  The State exists to keep everyone else’s hands off you so that you are free to interpret those principles and ideals within a limited framework of laws that are meant to apply equally to everyone.   We are not foot soldiers of the party but principled idealists who would rather embrace the risks of freedom and liberty than risk the known dangers of an overprotective state.  That a Party existed to represent those ideas at all is more of a testament to the ideas than to the party, but the party has been around long enough and “men” are not angels.

So the so-called party of local control, of limited and efficient government, even right here in New Hampshire,  has turned against its own principles, and we know this to be true.  We know this because the people who are still more devoted to those principles than the party that once existed to defend them are under attack by Legacy Republicans.

Conservatives, Libertarians, even undecided and independent voters who answer the call of the TEA Party are bad-mouthed in public and private for defending the principles the Republican party used to defend for them; and questioning the logic of abandoning them in the nation’s hour of need.

That need connects New Hampshire’s Conservative Republicans and Libertarians, regardless of their individual position on specific social or fiscal issues.

In New Hampshire, the NH-GOP appeared briefly to be a place for them to advance their shared principles.  But as establishment Republicans display an increased willingness to abandon those principles (in pursuit of what I can only assume is the view that there are more votes to be had by doing so) every one of us has to wonder how long it will be before they chase that same chimera on life, guns, speech, local control, or taxes; and who will be remain to stand with us to defend it from them?

And this is not a phase.  In recent years Republican State senators have proposed speech limiting legislation.  They supported an initiative that open the door to federal intrusion through regional planning. Most recently they put low taxes and local control on notice as the State Senate looks for a way to accept some $2.4 billion in Federal money for Medicaid expansion.

This effort to tie us to D.C. is an assault on low taxes, local control, and personal responsibility.  Expansion will remove decision making and chase it down the strings to the nation’s capital.  It will increase taxes to meet rising costs, extracting wealth from an economy that might otherwise evolve to create jobs that allow people to care for themselves and their own.  That will relieve many of the opportunity to strive and climb another rung of the ladder but who will instead drop back into the state’s hammock.

Each act appears self-serving.  It suggests that Republicans are happier carrying the water for the left, even if it is only in tiny buckets at first, than standing up for their own platform.  They have become…

“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot (who) will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; 

The balance of the quote is, of course…

but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

We who stand..?  Mocked by the establishment, often with the rhetoric of those who were once our shared ideological opposites.   We are mocked for defending the Republican Party platform.  Calls for reconciliation look not-surprisingly like the “reach across the aisle rhetoric of the left.”  No one ever reaches over to the right do they?

So we are at an impasse.  The NHGOP and the GOP have a platform.  A menu of social and political dishes, advertised outside the door.   But they are selling something else inside.  In the free marketplace of ideas, people who hunger for limited government, local control, and personal responsibility, will find someplace else for their ideological custom, and they will take their money and their votes with them.

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How Ray Burton taught me math

A visitor to my home state of New Hampshire could be forgiven this week for wondering about the flags at half-staff. An extended observance of Veterans’ Day? The loss of another Granite Stater on an overseas battlefield? No. Ray Burton has died, after 18 terms on the Executive Council, representing the northern two-thirds of New Hampshire.

Think about that: he won eighteen state-level elections. He was a county commissioner for good measure. He knew how to run and win and serve.

I learned from watching him. The principal lesson: if you can’t do math, don’t bother making noise about how much you want to be elected in order to … fill in the blank: enact pro-life legislation, get that road built, raise or cut that tax, fight to keep a piece of land open for recreation. Obvious? Not to me, when I was a younger and less seasoned activist. I thought just Doing the Right Thing would sweep all political considerations before it.

Twenty-some-odd years ago, I was working in a certain organization with legislative goals we pursued with equal parts passion and naïveté. Some policy initiative we favored – I forget which one – was shot down in the Executive Council. One of the offending votes had been cast by that darn Ray Burton, before he was a legend. We grumbled to each other and said,”Why can’t we find someone to run against him?” I can only plead youth and inexperience. A less charitable observer might simply say to me “you were an idiot.”

  • With one exception, no one at that meeting lived in the North Country, which to us meant anything north of Concord. Come to think of it, Burton’s district stretched almost that far south, while extending northward clear to the Canadian border.
  • No one in the room knew how many votes had been cast in Burton’s district in the previous election. We didn’t know who his opponents had been, in either the primary or the general.
  • None of us, including the sole Grafton County resident among us (who was a relative newcomer to New Hampshire), knew anything about why voters supported Burton.
  • None of us had met Ray Burton.

Needless to say, Councilor Burton had nothing to fear from us. Quite apart from our collective ignorance of his district, we had no math skills. We didn’t know how many votes he had garnered or how many votes it would take to get all that, plus one. After that, I learned how to study election results and do the arithmetic.

All of you who are passionately pro-life and yearn for more pro-life elected representatives, trust me on this, because each generation has to learn it anew: Understanding the absolute fundamental dignity of each human life is basic – but to translate that into public policy, learn to count.

I said that math was the principal thing I learned from the Councilor. That was a couple of decades before I actually met him. Then, I learned more. starting with this: he was pro-North Country. It didn’t matter to the vast majority of his constituents whether he was pro-anything else. He knew his people, and he covered an astounding distance every year to stay familiar with his district. His constituent service was second to none. Moreover, he liked people in a way few officeholders can honestly claim to do.

I worked on my first statewide campaign in 2010 for gubernatorial candidate John Stephen. I remember the first time I was sent to a meeting as the sole representative of the campaign –  a GOP meeting in Wolfeboro. Every face in the room was new to me. I was beyond nervous. I was shaking in my shoes, notwithstanding the fact that I was about the same age as most of the people at the meeting. (In fact, I was a generation older than most of my co-workers.)

Ray Burton was the evening’s featured speaker. When he arrived, he made the rounds of all the party regulars in the room, all very familiar to him. Then he approached me, offering a greeting and a handshake, seeing I was new in town.

In those few moments of conversation, he put me at ease and managed to treat me as though I were the only person in the room. Since his death, I have heard other people talk about similar encounters. When Councilor Burton spoke with you, he spoke with you. Amazingly to me, after that first meeting in Wolfeboro, he remembered my name every time we ran into each other during the campaign.

Campaign staff members put up with all kinds of attitudes from all kinds of people when we’re on the road for our candidate. That’s part of the job, and we know it, and we take it in stride. The only thing I ever had to take in stride on the campaign trail from Councilor Burton was the same courtesy he showed everyone. He always, and I mean always, had a cheerful greeting and a kind word for me and my colleagues. He kept a gimlet eye on how we were doing our jobs, mind you, but he was always gracious at the same time.

Councilor Burton had challengers, of course. He liked to say that he always ran as though he were five votes behind. Other Republicans were sometimes moved to run against him in the primaries. Some of them even managed to hold him to under 80% of the vote.

Yup, he was pretty good at math.

Some of his votes drove me nuts. He never voted thoughtlessly, though. The interests of the people of District One were his only concerns, for more than thirty years. I should have known that all along – even twenty years ago.

The Presidential Range, seen from Lancaster: Ray Burton territory. Photo by Ellen Kolb.

The Presidential Range, seen from Lancaster: Ray Burton territory. Photo by Ellen Kolb.

Chemical abortion scores in court

Women’s health is going up against chemical abortion in courts this week. Health is taking a hit.

Courts to abortion providers: we’ve got your back 

Iowa’s Sue Thayer, former PP manager, is reporting today that an Iowa judge just granted an emergency stay on a new Iowa law that would have required a physician to be present with a woman on whom an abortion is being performed. The law, which would have blocked “telemed” chemical abortions, was to have gone into effect tomorrow. The case is Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Inc. v. Iowa Board of Medicine. (“Heartland,” indeed. Orwell, call your office.)

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to a lower-court ruling that overturned an Oklahoma law regulating the use of chemical abortion. The law would have required that abortion providers adhere to FDA protocol limiting chemical abortion, using drugs rather than surgery, to 49 days of pregnancy. The case is Cline v. Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice. 

Meanwhile, in Texas …

The new four-part Texas law made famous by a state senator’s effort to filibuster it to death is being challenged piecemeal. So far, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed the law to go into effect. (See Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services v. Abbott.)

The most immediate effect of the Texas law seems to have been triggered by the law’s requirement that a physician performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. Over a dozen abortion facilities have reportedly closed down as a result of that provision. Abby Johnson, another ex-PP-manager, calls this a “Texas Size Victory.”

New Hampshire implications

Challenges to the manner of use of chemical abortion in New Hampshire have been administrative and judicial so far, not legislative.

As reported here in early September, pro-life physicians and civil liberties attorneys have urged the New Hampshire Boards of Medicine and Nursing to investigate Planned Parenthood’s advertising of chemical abortions through 63 days of pregnancy instead of the FDA protocol’s 49 days. As attorney Michael Norton from Alliance Defending Freedom said at that time,

No matter where people stand on abortion, everyone should agree that Planned Parenthood must abide by established FDA protocols for using a potentially dangerous drug. This includes requiring a licensed professional to personally meet with women and examining them before prescribing abortion-inducing drugs which pose serious health risks, and limiting the length of time it can be used…. [It is] important to hold healthcare providers to appropriate standards of care for women in New Hampshire in connection with the provision of drugs which result in abortions.

The October 29, 2013 edition of the New Hampshire Union Leader carried a front-page article reporting that New Hampshire Right to Life and two individual citizens from Cheshire County have gone to court over chemical abortions administered by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. At issue: the 49-day limit, the right of PPNNE to prescribe any drug whatsoever in the absence of a state contract, and the practice of distributing the drug for at-home use rather than for administration in a physician’s office.

New Hampshire is in a different judicial circuit than Oklahoma, and so ruling on that state’s chemical-abortion law is not binding here. It does not augur well, though, when the U.S. Supreme Court lets a lower court throw out the Oklahoma law. This will no doubt have a chilling effect on efforts to regulate chemical abortions and monitor their effects on women’s health.

Chemical abortion: the wave of the future?

While I’ve been concerned that the lessons of Gosnell are already being forgotten in some quarters, late-term abortion restrictions are gaining ground in several states. If there’s one thing the Gosnell trial will be remembered for, it’ll be the images of those babies he tried to abort and then “snipped.” They looked just like … babies.

Chemical abortion, on the other hand, is much neater. The preborn children look less like children. The mother can’t feel the baby yet, as early in pregnancy as abortion drugs are supposed to be administered. The pills can be sent home with the mother, even in defiance of the law. Telemed abortions, in which a provider teleconferences with a mother before remotely unlocking a drawer to give the mother access to abortion pills, requires much less overhead than a surgical abortion facility. The drugs are relatively cheap. The mother bleeds and sheds her child into pads or her toilet at home, keeping the abortion-drug provider from having to deal with medical “waste.”

Now there’s a business model. No wonder abortion advocates go to court to fight regulations on chemical abortions.

(Fact: one of the nurse practitioners on staff at the abortion-providing Lovering Center in Greenland, New Hampshire did her Ph.D. dissertation on “Women’s Experience with Decision-making with Medication Abortion.”)

Medication/chemical; potato/potahto. Ironically, women’s experience with the outcome of “medication abortion” is something neither academic medicine nor public health can pin down, at least not in New Hampshire. No one collects reliable statistics on how many women choose drug-induced abortion or how many women experience poor outcomes as a result. The number of chemically-induced attempted abortions that “fail” and are then followed up with surgical abortion is a mystery as well. Abortion providers lobby against stats bills, and call opponents “anti-choice” for wanting data.

How is that not putting politics ahead of women’s health?