As I reported via social media earlier today from the New Hampshire Executive Council chamber, the Council today approved a family planning contract with two abortion providers, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Joan Lovering Center. The vote was 3-2, with Councilor Chris Sununu in the majority. Sununu voted in favor of a PP contract in 2011 but against one last year.
Today’s contract was a second bite at the apple for PPNNE after being denied a contract by the Council last August. Part of the funds under today’s contract are considered retroactive, meaning PPNNE will get taxpayer dollars for this fiscal year despite last August’s Council vote against such funding.
Councilors Colin VanOstern and Chris Pappas joined Sununu in supporting the contracts today. David Wheeler and Joe Kenney said no.
The New Hampshire Executive Council is less than 18 hours away from voting on contracts with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Lovering Center, both abortion facilities. This is a second bite at the current-fiscal-year apple for PP, whose last bid for a family planning contract was rejected by the Council on a 3-2 vote.
Those who want to keep taxpayers free from collusion with abortion providers will rally before the Council meeting. So will those who think reduction in taxpayer funding is an attack on health care (“but they do so much good…!).
According to the 2014 financial report for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England – a report that is part of Wednesday’s contract proposal — PPNNE spent $998,262 on fundraising last year, $1.5 million on public policy work, and $214,000 on marketing and communication.
The PPNNE contract up for a vote on Wednesday is for $539,304. In view of PPNNE’s $20 million overall budget and more than $2.5 million spent on fundraising, marketing and public policy, no one needs to worry that denial of the contract is “defunding.”
That’s not what I’m likely to hear from PP’s partisan’s tomorrow – but it’s the truth nonetheless.
I have a constitutional right to substandard care, as long as abortion’s involved. At least that’s what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Breyer and four of his colleagues think. All women, pro-choice and pro-life alike, have reason to choke on that.
In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Court tossed out hospital admitting requirements for abortion providers and requirements that abortion facilities meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Gosnell must be loving this.
I’m not. I was discouraged for about forty-five minutes, then I got angry. The decision stinks. Even so, I have to deal with it.
I’ll deal with it like this.
Witness. Recommit to 40 Days for Life with its peaceful and decidedly un-political witness to clients and workers at abortion facilities.
Demonstrate. Marches for Life in Washington and in my state capital next January, rallies at the State House: simple ways to remind the Justices and their abettors that they haven’t settled anything.
Demand stats. Keep working for an abortion statistics law. Without reliable stats, people like Justice Ginsburg can chant about how “safe” abortion is. There are no reliable uniformly-collected nationwide public health statistics to back that up. Ask the Centers for Disease Control. Its abortion surveillance reports are full of footnotes about the different figures kept by different states, and about the lack of information from several states including my own.
Protect whistleblowers. If a worker at an abortion facility goes public with concerns about facility conditions, is the worker protected from reprisals? Time to find out.
Remember Gosnell, from grand jury report to verdict. Breyer mentioned the Gosnell scandal in the Whole Woman’s Health decision, only to dismiss its relevance. He has the devil’s own nerve being so cavalier about women’s health.
Fight public funding of abortion providers who with their support of Whole Woman’s Health are in favor of making substandard care a Constitutional right.
A tall order, all that – until I’m reminded that five Supreme Court Justices, including three women, consider women’s health to be less important than the business interests of abortion providers.
Upon my arrival in Texas for the Pro-life Women’s Conference, I checked my messages and learned that it looks like the New Hampshire Executive Council will indeed grant a retroactive contract to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The vote will come on June 29.
I’ve shared that news with some of the women here with me. I added that the pro-PP Councilors liked to emphasize all the “good things” the organization does. One of my listeners in particular, active in Secular Pro-Life, responded thus:
“If a child care contract were up for a vote, and the organization killed only 3% of the human beings who walked in the door, would they approve THAT contract?”
I’m stepping away from my usual beat for a trip to Dallas, Texas and the Pro-Life Women’s Conference hosted by And Then There Were None and the Alice Paul Group. I’ll post updates via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@leaven4theloaf) while I’m on the scene June 24-26, and I’ll add follow-up posts when I return.
This trip wouldn’t be possible without the support of sponsors of this blog. I’m grateful to my readers for this opportunity.
You can read about the conference at its web site, and you can see from the list of speakers why I’m giving up a weekend to fly halfway across the country. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that what I see here in New Hampshire is all there is to the pro-life movement. As you’ll see from the variety of affiliations among the speakers – Secular Pro-Life, New Wave Feminists, Guiding Star Project, Democrats for Life, BraveLove, to name just a few – there’s much more to the pro-life mission.
Let’s say I’m expanding my comfort zone, not stepping outside it.
I’ll see a few familiar faces in Dallas, including New Hampshire neighbor Darlene Pawlik of Save the 1, who blogs at The Darling Princess. I’m glad she has this opportunity to tell her story to women from around the country.
Pro-life New Hampshire readers have probably already seen the recent alert from New Hampshire Right to Life, warning of an upcoming vote by the Executive Council that might send funds to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, retroactive to what would have been the starting date of the contract that the Council rejected last August. Call your Councilor, says NHRTL, and I second that.
A few thoughts, in no particular order, with links to relevant posts:
The next Executive Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 29 at 10 a.m. at the State House. The agenda for the meeting won’t be posted publicly until just a few days in advance, at which time we’ll find out if the retroactive funding is indeed coming up for a vote. Here is a link to the web page where the agenda will be posted; when you see “June 29” listed as a meeting date, there will be a link to the agenda.
Look up your district here and your Councilor’s contact information here.
Recall that Councilors Joe Kenney, Chris Sununu, and Dave Wheeler voted to reject the PP contract last August. At that meeting, Kenney and Sununu both cited the Center for Medical Progress videos as a factor in their vote. Those videos feature PP employees discussing trafficking in body parts, with a PP medical professional describing her willingness to alter abortion procedures not to provide the best care to women but to extract the most lucrative intact fetal organs.
I was at the August 2015 meeting and heard the discussion that preceded the vote. Sununu said something that got short shrift from some of his colleagues and Governor Hassan: “I’m pro-choice and I support Planned Parenthood, but in my district, women have no [other] choice.” From my report on the meeting: “He unsuccessfully urged Hassan and his fellow Councilors to ‘take a step back’ and support a study of health care options in Sununu’s southeastern New Hampshire district. He said he got calls from constituents who wanted family planning services but not at Planned Parenthood.“
Those constituents need to get on the phone again. Sununu voted in favor of a PPNNE contract in 2011, and against one in 2015. A swing vote, for sure.
Oh, the (in)humanity: In August, Councilor Chris Pappas said it would be inhumane to deny PP its contract. He then expressed reservations about the CMP videos. It was unclear whether he had watched the videos or whether he might flag any part of the content “inhumane.”
Dismissing his colleagues’ concerns about the CMP videos, Councilor Colin Van Ostern (now seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor) called opposition to the August contract “ideology” and the CMP videos “heavily edited.” He has had ten months since then to view the unedited videos, still available online.
Governor Hassan, in an unguarded (but on-the-record) moment at the August meeting, said before the PP contract vote, “I’m sure Planned Parenthood would review its operations if this was voted down.” When the contract was voted down a few minutes later, Hassan’s team was ready with a blistering press release: “It is clear that today’s vote is the result of an ideological and political attack against Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions …The council’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood will hurt the health and economic well-being of thousands of Granite Staters.” No mention there of PP reviewing its operations. Likewise, there was no mention of how the health and economic well-being of thousands of Granite Staters could be hurt by removing only $319,000 from PPNNE’s $20 million annual budget. (Remember, the denied contract was for $638,000 over two years.)
Note that no one on the Council intends to retire from public office this year.
Councilor Colin Van Ostern, a Democrat, is running for Governor. So is Chris Sununu, a Republican.
Councilors Joe Kenney (R), Chris Pappas (D), and Dave Wheeler (R) are running to keep their Council seats.
As for Governor Maggie Hassan (D), she is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Kelly Ayotte.