The cost of the buffer zone law, so far

A postscript to yesterday’s New Hampshire House committee vote on buffer zone repeal, HB 589: Rep. Gary Hopper (R-Weare) read aloud to his fellow committee members a communication he had received from Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice in response to a query from him about what the state has spent so far defending the buffer zone law.

He read the letter aloud in a meeting that was open to the public; he posted it today on Facebook; his correspondent is a state employee; the topic was state business. Sounds like quotable stuff to me. So here is Deputy AG Rice to Rep. Hopper, as posted by Rep. Hopper this morning:

…So far, the Department has devoted 313.75 hours of attorney time in defending the buffer zone law, which equates to $43,611.25 (313.75 hours x $139.00/hr). We do not track the time that support staff devotes to any particular case so I cannot provide a cost for that. As far as future costs, that will depend on what the plaintiffs chose to do. If they appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court, we would file an objection, which I would estimate would involve approximately 40 hours of attorney time at $139/hr, or $5560 in cost. If the US Supreme Court accepted the appeal, the Department would likely devote several hundred hours on the appeal. I am unable to better estimate the amount of time required.

The plaintiffs could opt to refrain from further litigation unless and until a buffer zone is actually being considered. At this point, I cannot estimate if or when that would occur, or the amount of time that this office would spend on the litigation.

Recall that in the Supreme Court’s McCullen v. Coakley decision overturning a Massachusetts buffer zone law, taxpayers not only covered the cost for the state to defend an ultimately unconstitutional law but were later on the hook for $1.2 million in plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.

I’m sure Massachusetts’ costs started small. Look where they ended up.

Buffer zone repeal House committee vote, 2017

[Update, 2/22/17: the original version of this post listed Rep. Jordan Ulery as absent from the hearing. Rep. Dan Hynes has advised me that Rep. Ulery is no longer on the Judiciary Committee. I regret the error.]

The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee is sending this year’s buffer zone repeal bill to the House floor with an Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) recommendation. I was present for the vote, and there is some dispute over whether the vote was 10-7 (which is how I tallied it) or 9-8 (which is how the clerk reported it) for ITL on HB 589.

One representative sounded to me like he voted “nyet” on the ITL motion, with the clerk mishearing that as “yes.” (Short “e” came through clearly even if the consonants didn’t.) I believe that was Rep. Jason Janvrin (R-Seabrook), although I could be mistaken; I was looking down at my tally as the roll was being called. If I discover I’m in error about Rep. Janvrin’s intention, I will correct this post.

Any errors in the tally below are mine, and I would appreciate corrections.

The debate was long and produced no new information, although it allowed several reps to reiterate tiresome misinformation. I’ve attended and written about every hearing on the buffer zone and attempts to repeal it, and if you want to know how buffer zone fans defend their law, help yourself to the coverage.

Voting today IN FAVOR of ITL, therefore recommending that the repeal bill be killed: Reps. Claire Rouillard (R-Goffstown; acting committee chair today), Sandra Keans (D-Rochester; committee clerk), John Leavitt (R-Hooksett), Janet Wall (D-Madbury), Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham), Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland), Linda Kenison (D-Concord), Charlotte DiLorenzo (D-Newmarket), Mary Jane Mulligan (D-Hanover).

Unclear vote, which I might have misheard as explained above: Rep. Jason Janvrin (R-Seabrook).

Voting AGAINST the ITL motion, therefore supporting the repeal bill: Reps. Gary Hopper (R-Weare), Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), Robert Hull (R-Grafton), Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford), Robert Graham (R-Milton), Dan Hynes (R-Merrimack), John Mullen (R-Middleton).

Absent for the day was Chairman Rep. Joseph Hagan (R-Chester). Rep. Mullen was seated on the committee for the day to replace Rep. Hagan. [This post originally listed Rep. Jordan Ulery as absent; that was an error. Rep. Ulery is a former, not current, member of the Judiciary Committee.]

40DFL local opening events

The Spring 2017 40 Days for Life campaign begins on March 1, with kickoff events taking place next weekend.

Greenland, New Hampshire

Kickoff rally Sunday, February 26, 2 p.m. For more details, register for vigil hours at the Greenland 40 DFL page. The campaign takes place outside the Lovering Center.

Hand-embroidered sweater worn by one of the Greenland 40DFL volunteers.

Concord, New Hampshire

Kickoff event Saturday, February 25, 5:30 p.m. (following 4:00 Mass) at St. John the Evangelist Church activity center. (Christ the King Parish), 72 S. Main Street.

Beth Gaby
Beth Gaby, campaign leader for 40DFL Spring 2017 in Concord.

The official opening of 40 Days for Life will be at midnight on March 1, the very first hour of the worldwide campaign. (Or you could think of it as the end of the last evening of February.) Area Knights of Columbus will be praying from midnight to 1 a.m. To join them or to select your own vigil hours. sign up at the Concord 40DFL page. The campaign takes place outside the Equality Center, formerly known as the Feminist Health Center.

The Worcester, Massachusetts 40 Days for Life team is having its kickoff event on Sunday, February 26, in Medway, MA. Guest speaker will be Dr. Anthony Levatino. He is a physician, a lawyer, and a former abortion provider.

Worcester 40DFL Spring 2017


Update: N.H. Senate Passes Amended Fetal Homicide Bill

The New Hampshire Senate today passed SB 66 on a 14-10 vote. The measure is a fetal homicide bill that would give prosecutors the option of filing homicide charges against anyone whose bad actions cause the death of a preborn child against the mother’s wishes. As introduced, SB 66 could have been used only for fetal deaths after viability, but the Senate amended the bill today to change “viability” to 20 weeks’ gestation.

The bill’s legislative docket indicates that there was a roll call, but the results had not been linked at the time of this posting.

A New Hampshire House committee last week retained another fetal homicide bill, HB 156, which bars further action on the House version for now. The House bill would have made fetal homicide charges possible for deaths of preborn children at 8 weeks’ gestation or later. It is likely that the Senate bill will now go to the same House committee that retained HB 156.

40 Days for Life podcasts

Did you know that the international 40 Days for Life team has a weekly podcast? Whether you’re a 40DFL veteran or someone who’s not yet familiar with the project, you’ll find something in the archives to inform and inspire you.

Here’s a sample: “10 Ways to Raise Awareness”


Bill status update

Update on bills I’ve been following:

Buffer zone repeal (HB 589) and a post-viability abortion ban (HB 578): The House Judiciary Committee will vote on these two bills Tuesday afternoon, February 14. The committee can recommend Ought to Pass (and I hope they do), or Inexpedient to Legislate. The committee recommendation will then go to the full House at a later date. You can send a brief Ought to Pass email – better yet, two emails, one for each bill – to the Judiciary Committee at

I plan to attend the committee meeting on the 14th. Keep an eye on the Leaven for the Loaf Facebook page, where I’ll report on the votes as soon as they’re cast.

Fetal homicide: The House bill (HB 156, Griffin’s Law) had its public hearing in the Criminal Justice committee on February 7, and the committee has taken no public action since then. The Senate bill (SB 66) will get a vote in the full Senate Thursday, February 16.

Abortion statistics (HB 471), which had a public hearing February 7, is still awaiting action in the House Health Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee.

a Granite State pro-life blog by Ellen Kolb