But Wait, There’s More

[Update, 2 p.m.: According to a source present at the hearing, the committee voted “inexpedient to legislate” on this bill immediately after the hearing. The bill is likely to go to the full House on February 7.]

[Edited 1/24/18 to clarify the distinction between parental consent and notification.]

Just when you think you’re on top of all the life-issue bills in Concord, something else turns up. Comes now a measure that would nullify the parental notification law for abortion – and would eliminate the need for parental consent for cosmetic surgery, setting a broken bone, or anything else that health care professionals consider “treatment” – for minors 16 years of age and older. HB 1503 will be heard Wednesday, January 24, at 10 a.m. at the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs (HHS) Committee, room 205 of the Legislative Office Building (LOB) in Concord.

The hearing is open to the public, and comments may be emailed to the committee at HHSEA@leg.state.nh.us.

HB 1503 is sponsored by Rep. Caleb Dyer (L-Pelham).

“A health care provider shall obtain the independent consent of any minor 16 years of age or older who undergoes any elective or non-elective medical procedure. For the purposes of this subdivision, “health care provider” means any person, corporation, facility, or institution either licensed by this state or otherwise lawfully providing health care services….This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.”

New Hampshire’s parental notification law for abortion would be effectively nullified by HB 1503. The judicial-bypass provision of that law would be moot with the passage of a law giving 16- and 17-year-olds the authority to provide consent on their own.

The law doesn’t single out abortion. Nor does it explain just where parents would fit in at all: would a parent be financially responsible for procedures to which a minor child consents?

Whatever the sponsor’s intent, he has added another item to my watch list.


A few other hearings of note, all on January 31, 2018 (Wednesday):

  • HB 1787, relative to conscience rights for medical professionals, House HHS, 1:15 p.m., room 205 LOB
  • HB 1680, relative to abortions after viability, House Judiciary Committee, 10:00 a.m., room 208 LOB.
  • HB 1721, relative to coerced abortions.

Not yet scheduled: SB 490, establishing a committee to “study” end-of-life issues.

Charlie Gard’s Human Rights

And now for something completely different, after a month filled with New Hampshire posts.

Read this from Aleteia: “Charlie Gard case raises questions about medical treatment and parental rights.”

Charlie Gard is an infant who at this writing is in a hospital in London, England. He was born severely ill with a “rare, fatal condition” (quoting the Aleteia post).

Charlie’s parents want to bring him to the United States for an experimental therapy. They are prepared to pay for the treatment. There’s just one catch: the hospital won’t release their baby to them, and the hospital’s been backed up by the European Court of Human Rights.

Time to let the little tyke “die with dignity,” say the experts. Reportedly, the hospital is now free to remove whatever life support is being used for Charlie’s benefit.

I believe that there is such a thing as burdensome care, and no one has a moral obligation to accept it. I also believe that when a government tells parents that they can’t take their sick child for care at a facility that’s not under the control of that government, something’s very wrong.

I have to wonder: if the parents wanted to hasten their son’s death via active euthanasia, would the hospital and the Court be resisting them?

This is a terrible situation, though I won’t say “terrible case” because Charlie’s a child, not a case. No happy outcome is likely, by any earthly measure. Aggravating the situation is the fact that it’s now been established that in England, a government-run health care facility can deny custody of a disabled child to parents who are willing and able to seek treatment for that child.

That’s enough to give government-run health care a bad name. One may hope such decisions would never be made here. I suspect Charlie’s parents didn’t think it would happen in England.

Parental notification, if it’s OK with the school

I’m not a gambler. If I were, I’d bet heavily that a certain guidance counselor from Farmington will be getting an award this year from at least one abortion advocacy group. The New Hampshire Supreme Court has placed her in the spotlight by ruling in her favor in a wrongful-termination case.

From the April 10 New Hampshire Union Leader, “Judge Says Abortion Decision is Flawed”:

In November 2012, [guidance counselor Demetria] McKaig was working with a pregnant 15-year-old student and her boyfriend, who told her they wanted to terminate a pregnancy. McKaig suggested that the student tell her mother, but she refused, saying she was fearful for her safety.

Under a state law that took effect in January 2012, pregnant girls under 18 seeking an abortion must notify their parents or get a judge’s approval for the procedure.

McKaig contacted the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union for assistance in preventing the girl’s mother from finding out about the pregnancy, even though Farmington High Principal Matt Jozokos ordered school staff to inform the mother.

McKaig’s contract was non-renewed for insubordination, breach of student confidentiality and neglect of duties.

But the state’s highest court agreed with the state Board of Education’s conclusion that “to avoid insubordination, McKaig was required only to discuss her disagreement with the principal, which she did.” 

It took two tries to get New Hampshire’s parental notification law in place without legal challenge. It has a judicial bypass provision to keep the U.S. Supreme Court happy.  If an abortion-vulnerable pregnant young woman who is still a minor is afraid “mom’s going to kill me” – whether or not that fear is well-founded – she can go to a judge. Abortion providers will be glad to help. The judge does not have the role of giving permission for the abortion. Instead, the judge makes a determination whether or not the minor is mature enough to make her own decision.

If a judge rules that the minor is not mature enough, she can always go to another judge.

In the Farmington case, the parental notification law was not at issue. The quarrel was between the school and the counselor whose contract was not renewed. The court on a 4-1 vote found in the counselor’s favor.

Let the record show that Justice Robert Lynn declined to endorse the result. “Because I cannot join the bandwagon of political correctness that provides the only justification for the majority’s decision, I respectfully dissent,” he wrote.

“Privacy” cloaks many things about this case, this pregnancy, this abortion. Was statutory rape involved? Was sexual or domestic abuse involved? If the pregnant young women feared for her safety at home, should a child abuse report have been filed? There is a state law that anyone who suspects child abuse is supposed to report it to DCYF. Did the counselor do that on her way to the ACLU-NH office?

Passage of the parental notification law was a hard-fought and necessary victory. It’s about parental rights and the safety of pregnant adolescents, though, not about the right to life. And as the Farmington case implies, the law leads to troubling questions about the “counseling” some pregnant students receive at public expense.

Free Dissociation: NH Minors, Tanning, & Abortion

This afternoon, the New Hampshire House passed a bill (HB 136) to prohibit tanning facilities from tanning persons under 18 years of age. The vote was 199-162, and the measure now goes to the Senate. From the HHS committee’s Ought to Pass recommendation:

The committee considered three aspects. First was the safety of tanning and the preponderance of data which shows tanning to be unsafe. The business aspect was considered, but the industry itself, assured us it was only between 0.5-2% of their business. Finally, parental rights were discussed at length and the benefits of preventing children under 18 from tanning are similar to the benefits of attempts to minimize their exposure to tobacco.

So the House voted for a policy that says never mind if parents say it’s OK – the use of commercial tanning establishments by minors is so dangerous that it needs to be illegal. Minors aren’t mature enough to decide for themselves.

How many of the reps who voted for HB 136 think that minors are mature enough to make their own decision about abortion? Access to abortion but not to tanning … a jarring picture to me, but apparently not to everyone.

Here are the 37 reps who OPPOSED New Hampshire’s parental-notification-for-abortion law when it passed in 2011 (the override vote, 6/22/11) but SUPPORTED today’s tanning-booth bill.

Cheshire County: Cynthia Chase (D-Keene), Henry Parkhurst (D-Winchester), Bruce Tatro (D-Swanzey), Lucy Weber (D-Walpole)

Coos County: William Hatch (D-Gorham), Robert Theberge (D-Berlin), Yvonne Thomas (D-Berlin)

Grafton County: Susan Almy (D-Lebanon), Sharon Nordgren (D-Hanover), Suzanne Smith (D-Hebron), Charles Townsend (D-Canaan), Andrew White (D-Lebanon)

Hillsborough County: Jean Jeudy (D-Manchester), Pat Long (D-Manchester), Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsborough), Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua)

Merrimack County: Helen Deloge (D-Concord), June Frazer (D-Concord), Mary Gile (D-Concord), David Kidder (R- New London), James MacKay (D-Concord), Dick Patten (D-Concord), Chip Rice (D-Concord), Stephen Shurtleff (D-Penacook), Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord)

Rockingham County: Jacqueline Cali-Pitts (D-Portsmouth), Patricia Lovejoy (D-Stratham), Laura Pantelakos (D-Portsmouth)

Strafford County: Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham), Naida Kaen (D-Lee), Judith Spang (D-Durham), Peter Schmidt (D-Dover), Dale Sprague (D-Somersworth), Janet Wall (D/R, Madbury)

Sullivan County: John Cloutier (D-Claremont), Raymond Gagnon (D-Claremont), Andrew Schmidt (D-Grantham)

(Belknap & Carroll Counties managed not to have anyone on the list.)

NH Bill to protect assault survivors’ parental rights will soon become law

Leaven for the Loaf carried a report eleven days ago about SB 253, a New Hampshire bill to prevent rapists from seeking custody or visitation rights to their children conceived by rape. The testimony of rape survivor Shauna Prewitt, who chose life for her baby, testimony was still fresh in legislators’ minds when House and Senate conferees sat down recently to iron out their differences with the bill. I’m happy to report that SB 253 looks like it will be law soon. The amended language is not yet online but should be available shortly via the bill’s web page.

Thirty-one states allow rapists to sue for custody. That list will be cut to thirty within a few weeks.

There were six co-sponsors of SB 253, led by Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua). The two I find most interesting, considered side-by-side, are Sens. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) and Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry.) Soucy is of course the prime legislative mover of the soon-to-be-signed buffer zone bill. Carson was the Senate’s most impassioned critic of the buffer zone bill as an attack on the First Amendment.