More on State Budget and Abortion Funding: Keep Those Messages Going

The New Hampshire House will meet later this week, September 18 and 19, with the Senate meeting on the 19th. On the agenda: votes to sustain or override each of the Governor’s 50+ vetoes. At stake is the use of state general funds, i.e. taxpayer dollars, for direct and indirect funding of abortion.

Set out below are the reasons why it’s important to contact state representatives, state senators, and Governor Sununu with the clear unambiguous message: no public funding, direct or indirect, for abortion. That means sustaining the Governor’s veto of the state budget, and fighting to keep abortion out of any subsequent negotiated budget.

Governor Sununu has said reassuring things about direct funding of abortion. That is not the case about indirect funding, in which public dollars go to abortion providers purportedly for non-abortion work. Perhaps you have heard similar messages and non-messages from your own representatives.

At the heart of the matter: the state budget

The abortion funding question arises from Governor Sununu’s veto of the proposed state budget (see this blog’s earlier report). Enough concerned citizens have reached out to the Governor over the summer about this that his office has produced a form letter about it.

Thank you for contacting my office regarding abortion in New Hampshire. As Governor it has always been incredibly important to me to hear directly from Granite Staters on matters of great importance to them.

It is important for you to know that I have always opposed taxpayer funding of abortion, and have supported common-sense measures such as parental notification and the late-term abortion ban. In the past, I also supported legislative actions such as the Fetal Homicide Bill, Women’s Health Protection Act, and the Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act.

Please let us know your thoughts and ideas on this important issue as we move forward, and please do not hesitate to contact my office should you have concerns in the future.

Sincerely,

Christopher T. Sununu, Governor

(The only bill the Governor mentions that he actually signed is fetal homicide. Parental notification was already in place when he was elected, and bills regarding the other policies he mentioned have not made it out of the legislature.)

I’ll send a thank-you to the Governor for his letter. I’ll mention that I expect an equally forthright answer on giving money to abortion providers.

Indirect funding: reinforcing an abortion-first business model

The state budget Governor Sununu vetoed included a dramatic increase in funding for family planning. Has there been some kind of spike in the rate of unexpected pregnancy in New Hampshire? Nope. The increase is about abortion.

The proposed increase is to compensate family planning providers who are also abortion providers and who are losing federal funds by refusing to stop doing abortion work.

Title X (Ten) is a federal family planning program that grants money to states for family planning work, allowing the states to choose the contractors to actually carry out the family planning programs. Title X funds have never been allowed for direct abortion. Beginning last month, under a new federal provision called the Protect Life Rule, no Title X funds may go to abortion providers. The total amount of Title X money is not reduced by the Protect Life Rule. That money is available to contractors who don’t do abortions.

As explained by Cornerstone Action (a nonprofit for which I’m communications consultant), “This recognizes the fact that there is no practical difference between funding abortion and funding abortion providers. Every public dollar that goes to an abortion provider for non-abortion work helps to subsidize the abortion side of the business, by means of overhead such as facilities, equipment, utilities, and staffing.”

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England announced that it would drop out of New Hampshire’s Title X program rather than stop doing abortions. The other two freestanding abortion facilities followed suit, and even a few public health agencies that do not provide abortions joined in, out of a misplaced solidarity with abortion providers.

So much for patients relying on Title X programs. They are elbowed aside as their providers carry abortion work to the head of the priority list.

Cornerstone’s explanation of the Protect Life Rule bears reading in full. Here’s another excerpt:

The Protect Life Rule does not reduce the amount of family planning money coming from the federal government. At the same time, it respects the conscience rights of everyone who recognizes that abortion is not health care and that each abortion ends a human life. 

Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers have had it both ways in the past, providing abortion and federally-subsidized family planning under the same roof. They oppose the Protect Life Rule. Their message to you is, “Shut up and pay. We’ve got a business to run.”

…PPNNE calls the Protect Life Rule a “gag rule,” saying it inhibits communication between patients and providers. In fact, all the new rule inhibits is the ability of abortion providers to use public money, including indirectly, to perform, refer or promote abortion. 

Messages now

I’m going to email the Governor, thank him for his stand on direct funding, and urge him to be just as firm on indirect funding.

I’m going to email or call my senator and representatives, asking them to uphold the Governor’s veto of the state budget. I’ll ask them to oppose any direct or indirect funding of abortion.

Some of them might come back at me and tell me this is about health care. No, it isn’t. It’s about abortion, and abortion is not health care. Any provider who says it can’t provide family planning services because of a loss of Title X funds needs to be reminded that it lost those funds because it put abortion first in its business model.

 

The state budget – and what comes after

You need to get out on those sidewalks outside where abortions are happening. Abortions aren’t going on in the halls of Congress. Abby Johnson once said this to a room full of New Hampshire activists. Another time, in a very brief exchange with me, she was impatient when I mentioned the political work to which I’m drawn. “Politics isn’t going to end this,” she said, “this” meaning abortion and all its detritus.

And yet I stay involved in politics. I know what happens when we concede the arena to politicians unwilling to accept or defend the right to life. More than once, I’ve heard “how did we get here?” from stunned neighbors who have just realized how abortion-friendly is our state’s political culture.

One vote at a time, that’s how. Course correction will come the same way.

So what does this have to do with the state budget? First, the last budget proposal was not encouraging as far as the right to life and conscience rights are concerned. Second, I need to remember that passage of an abortion-friendly state budget will need to be met with something more than hand-wringing.

Year in and year out, the budget is dominated by health and human services spending. Yet without a systemic commitment to the right to life – not something assigned as a privilege, but recognized as a right – then all the spending is just so much vote-buying, swaying with the vagaries of political fashion.

I see much online cheering for the final implementation of the federal rule barring abortion providers from getting Title X family planning funds. At the risk of being the skunk at the garden party, I’ll remind you that the proposed state budget passed by the New Hampshire House and Senate includes a dramatic increase in family planning money from state general funds, to offset any loss of federal funds to abortion providers who are also Title X contractors.

And then there’s the line in the House/Senate budget that repeals the previous prohibition on the use of state general funds for abortion.

Yes, Governor Sununu vetoed that budget. He never cited the abortion language as a reason, although he found plenty else to complain about. Reports on recent budget negotiations include nothing about removing the abortion language.

The Governor does not have line-item veto power in New Hampshire. It’s all-or-nothing when it comes to the budget. I am sure neither the Governor nor any of his staffers will dispute me when I say that he unlikely to veto a budget over abortion funding, if negotiations resolve all his other concerns.

(Pending a resolution of the budget impasse, the state is operating on a continuing resolution that basically continues spending at the same level on the same items as the last budget, which expired on June 30. The government is not shut down.)

So here we are, in the political position New Hampshire pro-lifers know best: underfoot. This brings me back to that sharp reminder I got from Abby Johnson: politics isn’t going to end the carnage – not by itself, anyway. I’m not suggesting taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion providers is unimportant. I am saying that whatever the state budget eventually looks like, good or bad, the most important pro-life work is going to go on without regard to any negotiations at the State House.

After the state budget is signed, pregnancy care centers are still going to be going about their business. They need volunteers, board members, executive directors, medical staffers. They need diapers and wipes and car seats and office supplies. You don’t need to vote for that. You can just do it.

After the budget is signed, we’re still going to have – eventually – a loved one or a neighbor or a child’s classmate who’ll face pregnancy and won’t know where to turn. You can be a voice of hope. You don’t need to sport an “I voted” sticker to do that.

After the budget is signed, bigotry against people with disabilities will still be real and dangerous. The attitude “better dead than disabled” will need pushback over and over again. Babies diagnosed in utero with disabilities will be at risk of “termination” on those grounds alone. You can demonstrate how to affirm human dignity, particularly if you’re living with disability or an adverse diagnosis. You might want to share your story with one of your elected officials, because nothing beats a personal story to get a message across.

After the budget is signed, you might still be called to be a peaceful pro-life witness in a public place. You might be called to put your professional skill at the service of life-affirming ministries. You might be called to a routine of prayer that’s new to you.

Imagine all this going on regardless of who’s in charge at the State House or who’s rallying outside a hearing. Now open your eyes: it’s all happening.

Let’s encourage each other.

How hard is it not to fund abortion providers?

I don’t want to fund abortion providers by way of my tax dollars. Health care, yes; abortion, no; and there’s no such thing as avoiding the commingling of dollars when health care and abortion go on in the same building. Perhaps you agree.

Our state government doesn’t care, with all political parties in on the action. Abortion providers are so embedded in the state Department of Health and Human Services and in the Executive Council that the conscience rights of abortion resisters are in the toilet.

This is much on my mind this morning as I discover that the Executive Council and DHHS pulled a fast one recently. At the last Executive Council meeting, there was a contract item for renewal and supplemental funding of family planning contracts. That’s always a feed bag for abortion providers, so I clicked on the contract to check out the details. (You too can do a deep dive into any Council agenda; just click on the hyperlinked number next to any agenda item to get a look at the full contract in question.)

What I found was that numerous contractors had their contracts renewed – but the ones with abortion providers were not included. Hooray, right?

Wrong. I missed a “late item” added to the agenda after the public posting of the original.

How late was the late item? The day before the actual Council meeting. What was the late item? Adding the abortion providers back into the contract renewal. Contract extension amounts: $179,800 to the Equality Center in Concord, $222,896 to the Lovering Center in Greenland, and $548,000 to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Speculate as you please on why that item was posted “late.” The contract extension passed.

State money or federal? Makes no difference as far as which of my pockets is picked. As the contract says, “Source of Funds: 52% Federal Funds from the Office of Population Affairs; US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, and 48% General Funds.” General Funds refers to money from the New Hampshire state budget.

This week’s Executive Council meeting includes an agenda item giving even more money to abortion providers, this time for HIV intervention programs. It’s another contract renewal and extension, with the funding source listed as 17% federal and 83% “other funds.” (How’s that for transparency?) If the Council approves the contract extension, the Equality Center will get an additional $150,000 while PPNNE will get an additional $242,500.

Would anyone be denied authentic health care services if abortion providers were excluded from the contract process? Only if abortion providers refuse to change their business model, which relies on mislabeling abortion as health care.

The latest PPNNE audited financial statement I’ve seen online is dated May 24, 2018, covering the year ending December 31, 2017. Amount spent on public policy: $1,626,944. Marketing and communication: $209,744. Fundraising: $1,165,984.

That’s three million dollars for non-clinical promotional work. The state contracts are peanuts by comparison. But neither PPNNE nor any other abortion provider will let you off the hook. Neither will the commissioner of DHHS or the Executive Council. You’re funding abortion providers whether you want to or not.

As for elections having consequences, this is all happening regardless of which party has a majority or holds the corner office. I’m looking forward to seeing if the Republican governor re-appoints the DHHS commissioner when his term expires next January.

I’m also wondering whether that Republican governor will sign a state budget soon that repeals an existing prohibition on state funds being used for abortion. He vetoed the first attempt at a budget a couple of weeks ago, citing umpteen reasons but not mentioning abortion funding. Hmmm.

As for subsidizing abortion by way of giving money to abortion providers, taxpayers are going to have a hard time divesting. A key question in any public policy debate is who wants it more? Victories are going to come piecemeal. The big ones won’t come from Executive Council votes. They’ll come from making abortion providers ineligible for your money when contracts are put out to bid in the first place.

You’ll Be Paying for Abortion, If Proposed State Budget Passes

New Hampshire House and Senate conferees trying to agree on a state budget have agreed on one thing: everyone who pays taxes in New Hampshire will be funding unrestricted abortion if this budget passes.

The conference committee has OK’d the removal of budget language which in past budgets has limited the use of state funds for abortion.

The N.H. Senate voted to repeal language limiting abortion funding, and a House-Senate conference committee has endorsed that move.

House and Senate will vote on a state budget proposal June 27. The Governor will then decide whether to sign or veto the budget. A veto would likely lead to a legislative continuing resolution, basically a state-spending holding pattern, until agreement is reached on a new budget.

Governor Sununu has expressed in every way available to him that he will veto the budget as it currently stands, due to new taxes and excessive spending. He has not mentioned abortion funding as a reason for a possible veto.

Abortion funding is not a bargaining chip. It’s a dealbreaker. Perhaps no one has told him so yet. His office number is (603) 271-2121. The budget isn’t on his desk yet, but it’s coming.

House and Senate members need to get the same message before June 27.

Hyde amendment language

The language at risk of repeal in New Hampshire is based on the federal Hyde Amendment, which has been added to every federal Department of Health and Human Services budget since 1976. This funding limitation has prevented the use of federal DHHS funds for abortion, with exceptions for pregnancies from rape and incest.

Essentially, that has been the New Hampshire policy. Children conceived in violence can be aborted at public expense, but New Hampshire taxpayers have not yet been ordered to pay for abortions in other circumstances.

Abortion advocates have worked diligently for years at state and federal levels to undermine Hyde Amendment language, saying that it restricts health care access for poor women.

Anyone opposing restrictions on public funding for abortion is therefore adopting the fiction that abortion is health care. That goes for anyone who votes for a budget containing abortion funding, even if it’s a “compromise” budget.

sununu’s past funding decisions

As Executive Councilor, Chris Sununu voted in 2011 and 2016 to give family planning contracts to abortion providers including Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the Equality Center in Concord, and the Lovering Center in Greenland. Calling himself pro-choice, he drew a distinction: no to compelling taxpayers to fund abortion directly; yes to funding abortion providers for non-abortion work.

In August 2015, Sununu voted against a state contract with PPNNE, expressing concerns over revelations of some PP affiliates’ commerce in body parts from aborted fetuses. Ten months later, in an unprecented do-over on the same contracts, he flipped, saying that PP was no longer under investigation.

Elections have consequences?

There is no elected New Hampshire Democrat on the state level who supports restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortion.

Then again, there is no elected New Hampshire Republican on the state level who has announced that she or he will vote against the proposed budget for the reason that public funding for abortion is inconsistent with respect for human life, authentic health care, and conscience rights.

Hyde saves lives

Looking at the federal Hyde Amendment, Secular Pro-Life celebrated the amendment’s 40th anniversary in 2012. Its #HelloHyde campaign highlighted the people who were born, not aborted, when their mothers were covered by Medicaid.

The Hyde Amendment’s life-saving impact is hard to overstate. Both supporters and opponents agree that the Hyde Amendment has prevented over a million abortions. The disagreement, sad to say, is over whether that’s a good thing.

http://www.hellohyde.org/1-in-9/

more funding = more abortion

In April of this year, Michael J. New, Ph.D. of the Charlotte Lozier Institute wrote about Maine’s move to fund abortion with state dollars. He observed something that holds true anywhere public money is used for abortion.

There is a considerable amount of debate among scholars about various aspects of abortion policy. However, when it comes to the issue of taxpayer subsidies, there is a very broad consensus among both pro-life and pro-choice researchers that funding abortion through Medicaid significantly increases abortion rates. In 2009, the Guttmacher Institute–which was Planned Parenthood’s research arm until 2007–published a literature review on the research about public funding of abortion. They found that 19 of 22 studies found taxpayer funding of abortion increases the incidence of abortion.

https://lozierinstitute.org/hundreds-of-innocent-lives-depend-on-the-maine-state-legislature/

Update: Again, N.H. House says No to abortion statistics

The naysayers are still saying Nay. Given an opportunity to include abortion statistics in a bill regarding collection of health care data, the New Hampshire House ran in the other direction this week. The underlying bill, SB 111, came up for a hearing last month, when an employee of the executive department requesting the bill visibly blanched when a committee member proposed an amendment: adding abortion statistics to the mix.

The executive department requesting the bill was the Department of Health and Human Services. I can only imagine the Commissioner’s reaction to the SB 111 public hearing.

Have no fear, Mr. Commissioner. SB 111 was passed by the House this week without any pesky amendments.

Left unaddressed is the question of why so many representatives who think abortion is health care don’t want to include it in a health care data collection program. But I digress.

There was a roll call on the abortion-statistics amendment. The amendment failed, 135-211. Here’s the link to the roll call, with a “Nay” vote being a vote against the collection of abortion statistics. The heading on that roll call page says “SB 111 Roll Call,” but it’s a vote on the amendment, not the underlying bill.

The underlying bill passed on a voice vote, free of amendments.

I respect and thank the representatives who co-sponsored the amendment: Reps. Walt Stapleton (Sullivan County district 5), William Marsh (Carroll 8), Mark Pearson (Rockingham 34), Charles McMahon (Rockingham 7), Joseph Guthrie (Rockingham 13), Dennis Acton (Rockingham 10), Edward DeClercq (Rockingham 8), and John Fothergill (Coos 1). In addition, Rep. Bill Nelson (Carroll 5) gave an eloquent speech on the floor of the House to introduce the amendment.