Governor Signs Fetal Homicide Law as Families Look On

Sarah and Griffin’s Law has been signed. I was determined to see this happen, in person. I wouldn’t believe it otherwise.

Gov. Chris Sununu signs Sarah and Griffin’s Law, June 30, 2017, as chief sponsor Sen. Regina Birdsell (green blazer) watches.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed SB 66 on June 30, and now the fetal homicide measure will be known as Sarah and Griffin’s Law. It will go into effect January 1, 2018.

At that time, prosecutors will have the option of bringing a homicide charge against a person whose violent actions cause the death of a preborn child at or after 20 weeks’ gestation, against the will of the mother.

Fetal homicide was one of the first topics I tackled on this blog. I haven’t shut up about it, actually. The state Supreme Court’s 2009 plea in the Lamy case has never been far from my mind. Overturning a drunk driver’s homicide conviction for killing a child who died from injuries sustained in utero by the drunk driver’s actions, the Court told the legislature it would have to update state law in order for such a charge to stick.

Finally, the legislature and a governor have answered the Supreme Court with something other than “meh.”

Moms Deana Crucitti & Ashlyn Rideout (front); dads Nathan Crucitti & Daniel Kenison (rear middle & right) after SB 66 was signed into law.

The families of Griffin Kenison and Sarah Crucitti were at the Governor’s side as he signed the law. Their extended families, children included, filled the Executive Council chamber. Some held photos of Griffin and Sarah.

Sarah’s mother Deana Crucitti and Griffin’s mother Ashlyn Rideout embraced before the ceremony. I started to take a photo of them and then backed off.  In the middle of that crowded room, it was an unmistakably private moment.

Three generations of Griffin’s family were there, including “Grammy Shirley,” who told me with deep emotion three years ago “we’re on a crusade.” 

It was a year ago yesterday that then-Executive Councilor Sununu switched his vote and voted “Yea” on a state contract with abortion providers – a contract that the Council had rejected with his help a few months earlier.

It’s been seven months since a concerned pro-life Republican challenged the self-identified “pro-choice” gubernatorial candidate Sununu, asking him what pro-life initiatives he could support. The candidate responded by writing that he could support five in particular. (Text of the letter is at the bottom of this link.)

Fetal homicide was #1 on the list.

I give him credit for keeping his word.

I give credit to Leon Rideout, Sen. Regina Birdsell, Rep. Kathy Souza (who has worked for a fetal homicide bill for more than 20 years), and all the legislators who co-sponsored fetal homicide bills over the years.

I give credit to Ovide Lamontagne, who last year elicited Chris Sununu’s written support for fetal homicide legislation.

I give credit to retired Supreme Court Justice James Duggan, author of the Lamy decision, who placed the ball squarely in the legislature’s court eight years ago.

I give most of the credit to the families who lost their children and who came to Concord again and again to tell their stories.

When former Rep. Leon Rideout, Griffin’s grandfather, introduced a fetal homicide bill in 2014, I covered the hearings. There I met family members including Griffin’s aunt Robin. We spoke today after the signing.

“I didn’t think I’d live to see this day,” I told her. I wasn’t kidding.

She gave me a no-nonsense look. “Shame on you.” She wasn’t kidding, either.

Lesson learned: never give up.


 

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