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Ellen KolbMarch 31, 2015Leave a comment

Senate fetal homicide bill: notes on a hearing

Today, the New Hampshire Senate’s version of a fetal homicide bill, SB 40, had its hearing at the House Criminal Justice committee. I was only able to stay for the first half-hour, which was enough for me to hear Rep. Geoffrey Hirsch ask sponsor Regina Birdsell, “Isn’t this supported by groups that want to establish personhood?”

The gentleman from Bradford is apparently worried that fetal homicide legislation is a backdoor way to get personhood into the books. Wait – haven’t we been there before? Oh, yes – same committee, four weeks ago, minority worrying about Roe. Someone is actually worried that those sneaky pro-lifers are going to take a bill that refers to wanted pregnancies terminated by the bad actions of a third party (not the mother, whose decisions are absolutely respected under fetal homicide laws), and pervert it into a bill to prosecute women who choose to terminate their unwanted pregnancies.

Senator Birdsell, an even-tempered woman not given to sharp retorts, answered that fetal homicide is not a pro-life/pro-choice issue. She urged the representative that instead of being concerned about groups, he should listen to Deana Crucitti.

She could have said, “C’mon, people – FOCUS!” She has far too much respect for her colleagues and for the institutions of House and Senate to resort to that. It was left to me to mutter the words under my breath – quietly enough, I hope.


 

With two fetal homicide bills under consideration, there will have to be reconciliation at some point. Rep. Leon Rideout, sponsor of Griffin’s Law (HB 560) in the House, testified in favor of SB 40 today. “Knowing Senator Birdsell, I think we can work together and make a very good bill.” SB 40 would go into effect at viability, while HB 560 would be effective eight weeks into pregnancy. Rideout doesn’t like the viability language, but in reply to a question from a committee member, he said he doesn’t think viability “guts” a fetal homicide bill. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

To the suggestion that fetal homicide laws undermine abortion rights, Rideout had a blunt reply. “Calling this pro-life versus pro-choice is BS.” Yes, he abbreviated it. He observed decorum and he made his point.


The Crucitti family was present, and I’m sorry I missed their testimony. I heard Deana Crucitti testify on SB 40 at its Senate hearing a few weeks back, and her story is searing.

Rideout brought three photos of Griffin, his grandson born prematurely but unable to survive for long due to injuries sustained in utero when the car his mother was driving was struck by another vehicle. He put those framed photos on the table in front of him as he testified. “This is the context of what we are talking about today.”

When he returned to his seat, Deana Crucitti quietly asked to see the photos. She looked at them one by one, shook her head gently, and embraced Rep. Rideout as she returned the pictures.


 

An ugly story out of Colorado is in the news: a pregnant woman was assaulted and overpowered by someone who proceeded to cut the preborn child out of the woman’s body. Colorado has no fetal homicide law. There can be no criminal charge in the child’s death, although the assailant will certainly face charges in the assault on the woman.

Yes, that came up in today’s hearing. It will no doubt be mentioned again later this week when Rep. Rideout’s bill has another hearing.


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Ellen KolbMarch 31, 2015Leave a comment

“My heart is with the woman who has had an abortion”

Karen Colageo speaks to 40DFL volunteers.

Karen Colageo speaks to 40DFL volunteers.

CareNet volunteer Karen Colageo was the featured speaker at the closing gathering for Manchester, New Hampshire’s 40 Days for Life winter campaign. She’s been a post-abortion counselor for more than a decade. “I’m here to speak about abortions, not ‘abortion.’ Specific events. Private, emotionally wrenching experiences. The stories you need to hear are the individual testimonies.” The abortions she experienced herself were an important factor in her eventual work. “My heart is with the woman who has had an abortion.”

Colageo is married to a local Lutheran pastor, and her post-abortion-counseling work includes use of a Bible study called “Forgiven and Set Free.” Does that put off some of the women she tries to reach? “It grieves me, really, when nonbelievers avoid the program because it’s a Bible study.” She described one such woman who gave the program a second look after she was unsatisfied with other attempts at post-abortion counseling.  “She came back to me and said ‘I’ve tried everything else; what have I got to lose?'” She found that in her own post-abortion recovery, one oft-heard remark from

Several years after having her abortions, she bore a child whose arrival nudged open a spiritual door. “I had a beautiful baby girl. Despite what I had done, God had entrusted me with a beautiful child, an unmerited gift.” Coming to terms with her earlier abortions was a gradual and difficult process, and Colageo is frank about the religious dimension to her healing as she realized she had taken the lives of her other children. Through her involvement in a church community, she learned about CareNet and sought counseling there, her first encounter with the “Forgiven and Set Free” program. “Finally, someone allowed me to grieve, and applied the healing words of the Gospel to my open wounds. We learned to pray with David [Psalm 51]: ‘a broken, contrite heart, O Lord, you will not despise.'”

She fully accepts the estimate that one in three women will have an abortion by age 45. “Be careful what you say. There are a lot of broken women out there. Condemnation does no good. Women must be saved as well as children. We cannot forget that.” She says about her work, “Women need to know their abortions can be forgiven. They can turn death into life. I’ve seen truly broken women come alive.”

The evening’s gathering also served as a baby shower for four area agencies serving pregnant women and young parents: Birthright, CareNet, the Pennacook Pregnancy Center, and Our Place.

The next 40 Days for Life campaign is scheduled to begin September 23.


 

 

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Ellen KolbMarch 27, 2015Leave a comment

Look for legislative hearing updates via email

A quick housekeeping note: reserving the right to make occasional exceptions, I plan to announce upcoming legislative hearing alerts on the Leaven for the Loaf Facebook page and in email updates, rather than on the blog itself. You can sign up for emails either by subscribing to the blog (look for the sign-up area in the sidebar or footer) or by going to the Facebook page and clicking on “subscribe to blog and newsletter” under the cover photo.

I’ve already sent an email about next week’s hearings. If you missed it, it’s at this link. Thanks for reading.Leaven Logo (800x600) (360x164) (300x109)