In New Hampshire’s First Congressional district, incumbent Frank Guinta is facing former Member of Congress Carol Shea-Porter. This is the fourth time the two have gone head-to-head for the seat, with Shea-Porter holding a 2-1 edge.
Looking strictly at his pro-life record, Guinta has voted to keep taxpayers out of the abortion industry’s business, with exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest (Hyde Amendment language). The National Right to Life Committee has endorsed him. On his campaign web site, he writes “I believe in the sanctity of life and will work to make sure all children have the ability to grow up surrounded by their parents’ loving attention.”
Then there’s Carol Shea-Porter. She’s an EMILY’s List favorite, which speaks volumes. And in 2013, refusing to vote to weaken the Obamacare HHS/contraceptive mandate, she was willing to let the government shut down instead.
Recall her letter to me from 2013, which stands up pretty well as a guide to her attitude towards religious liberty and what constitutes health care. The subject was the potential government “shutdown,” her support for Obamacare, and her insistence on defending its provision that women are broken and need to be fixed via “preventive” contraceptive converage. She had (has?) no problem forcing employers who provide health insurance to employees to be involved in those employees’ decisions regarding contraception.
From the 2013 post, with excerpts from Shea-Porter’s letter set off in quotation marks:
Here’s the relevant portion of her message. I’ve added some bold-face emphasis.
“Last weekend, the House of Representatives voted on a Continuing Resolution that contained multiple provisions that had nothing to do with keeping the government operational. That version of the bill, which I voted against on September 29th, included a provision that would allow any employer or insurer to refuse to cover any health care services they might object to. This would give unprecedented control over personal healthcare decisions to employers and insurers, allowing them to deny coverage for important women’s preventive health services, including HPV testing to prevent cervical cancer, domestic violence screening and counseling, and birth control.”
Like the president whose water she’s carrying, she conceded no good will to people like me who see the down side of the “Affordable” Care Act. That makes her next sentence a punch line, albeit a lousy one.
“I stand ready to work with my Republican and Democratic colleagues on finding common ground and getting things moving here in Washington.”
I guess the First Amendment doesn’t qualify as common ground.
…In Shea-Porter’s view, it’s imperative that employers with religious objections to contraception be forced to subsidize it anyway. She thinks that affording such people freedom of conscience would amount to “unprecedented control” over a woman’s health care decisions.
Forcing an employer to pay for birth control pills is an “unprecedented control” of its own.
I take from this that Shea-Porter believes free pills must somehow trump religious liberty. Perhaps I take too dim a view. HHS Secretary Sebelius, when asked about the HHS mandate last year, couldn’t square it with religious liberty beyond saying, “I’m not a lawyer and I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of the constitutional balancing tests.” Madam Secretary is apparently not the only Washington denizen who has trouble with nuance. The difference between health care and health coverage, between choice and mandate, between cancer screening and fertility suppression: all are lost on my congressional representative.
One more thing: if Carol Shea-Porter wins in 2016, she’ll be entitled to a lifetime Congressional pension at her own option once she’s halfway through her term. That seems odd recompense for her support of the HHS mandate.