House committees give thumbs down to funding, conscience bills

The New Hampshire House will vote on a pair of pro-life bills Wednesday (2/18/15) that received inexpedient-to-legislate votes in committee. One involves keeping tax dollars away from abortion providers; the other would provide legal protection to health care workers who refuse to participate in abortion or any other procedure to which they conscientiously object.

Anyone who thinks the NHGOP is a pro-life party needs to pay attention to this.


 The funding bill, HB 677,at least got a minority report. Rep. Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford) of the Judiciary committee summed it up neatly: “The minority believes public funds going to these organizations indirectly supports abortions violating the conscience rights of taxpayers.” Two of his fellow committee members agreed with him; fourteen didn’t. The majority report was written by Republican Charlene Takesian of Pelham. You may recall that during the House hearing on the buffer zone bill last year, Rep. Takesian suggested that handing a leaflet to a woman could be an act of violence.

The conscience bill, HB 670, fared worse, getting a unanimous inexpedient-to-legislate vote in the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee. No minority, so no minority report. Yet another Republican, John Fothergill of Colebrook, stepped up to write the committee report, quoted in full here:

The intent of the bill is to protect the right of all healthcare providers, healthcare institutions and health care payers. The committee felt the protection offered was too broad involving individuals as well as institutions. Most professional groups have a code of ethics which provide guidelines to address conscientious objection and offer a better balance between patient rights and provider rights. Finally, the committee did not feel the bill adequately protects the employer.

Without a minority report, the conscience bill goes on the consent calendar, where it will be lumped in with other unanimously-reported bills that will be voted on in one bloc. No one will point out that rejecting this bill means that coercing people to participate in abortion remains perfectly legal in New Hampshire.

“The committee did not feel the bill adequately protects the employer.” Let that one resonate for awhile. Check your consciences at the office door, folks.

Both of the committee majority votes were bipartisan. Quick – which party has the pro-life platform? No one can tell from these votes.

Surely anyone who ran on a pro-life platform should defend conscience rights. Surely anyone who claims to be pro-choice should respect the choice not to facilitate abortions. That’s not what happened in committee, though, and that doesn’t augur well for next Wednesday’s results.