State budget conferees restore abortion funding restriction

House and Senate conferees working on the New Hampshire state budget for 2022-23 have agreed to include a restriction on abortion funding, according to news reports. The compromise language adds a 24-week limit on abortions.

The funding restriction, originally passed by the House, was later rejected by the Senate Finance Committee before being restored to HB 2 by the full Senate. It would apply to state general funds awarded though contracts with the department of health and human services.

The language does not prevent state funds from going to abortion providers for non-abortion services, such as family planning programs.

The 24-week abortion limit was added to HB 2 by the Senate after HB 625 was tabled.

Here’s the official summary of the proposed budget language as it currently stands: “[This budget} Prohibits the distribution of state funds awarded by the department of health and human services to a reproductive health care facility for provision of abortion services, and prohibits a health care provider from performing an abortion if the gestational age of the fetus is at least 24 weeks.”

The provisions are part of HB 2, the “trailer bill” that goes along with the principal budget bill, HB 1. It is not unusual for the trailer bill include measures that for one reason or another failed to pass as free-standing bills.

Budget negotiations continue this week in conference committee. House and Senate will meet on June 24 to vote on the resulting budget. Once approved by both chambers, the budget will go to Governor Chris Sununu.

Sununu has expressed support for the language restricting abortion funding and late-term abortions.

Senate committee strips abortion funding language from budget bill

As reported by Adam Sexton of WMUR, the New Hampshire Senate Finance Committee has voted to remove proposed state budget language requiring family planning contractors to keep abortion work financially and physically separate from contractors’ other business.

The House language rejected by the Senate committee was reported in this blog last month. Its stated purpose was “[i]n order to ensure that public funds are not used to subsidize abortions directly or indirectly.”

The House language was included in HB 2, the so-called “trailer bill” that is a companion measure to HB 1. Together, the bills will form the state budget for the biennium beginning July 1.

The disputed language is different from provisions included in past state budgets to prevent state funds from being used directly for elective abortions. Such provisions are similar to the Hyde Amendment in the federal Health and Human Services budget.

The Senate Finance Committee will eventually make a recommendation to the full Senate on HB 2, which is likely to contain over a hundred provisions applying to various budget areas.

House and Senate will eventually have to settle their differences before submitting a budget to Governor Chris Sununu by the end of June.

No Senate votes yet on 2021 life-issue bills

Since committee hearings on March 30, the New Hampshire Senate has not yet scheduled votes on bills regarding born-alive protections (HB 233) and a 24-week limit to abortion (HB 625).

GOP Senator calls restriction on eugenic abortion “a bridge too far”

HB 625 met resistance at the March 30 Senate Judiciary hearing from a Republican senator. Sen. William Gannon (R-Sandown) noted that the bill contains no exception for preborn children diagnosed with “severely fatal abnormalities.”

Following testimony in favor of HB 625 by one of its co-sponsors, Sen. Gannon challenged him. “I have a problem – it’s a bridge too far without it for me, sir. You don’t have any exception for severely fatal abnormalities which I think would be cruel to a mother and father in the situation.”

Video of the hearing is on YouTube, with Sen. Gannon’s question at time stamp 2:40:00.

[Update: Please see Sen. Gannon’s comment below, responding to this post.]

A reader has shared with me an email she received several weeks ago from Sen. Gannon regarding the bill, in which the senator stated that only ten GOP senators will accept the bill as passed by the House. In the email, he did not name the senators. The current membership of the Senate is 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

The bill contains an exception for medical emergencies that would threaten the life of the mother or would cause her “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

Diocese: don’t send message that “some lives are less worth living than others”

Robert Dunn, director of the office of public policy for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, sent out a call to action on April 20, urging supporters of HB 625 to contact their senators.

“To summarize [the Diocese’s] position: State law should not send the message that, based on certain characteristics, some lives are less worth living than others. All children have the right to life and to a recognition of their human dignity. If we want society to respect and value the child who is homeless, or the child at the border, or the child without access to health care, or the child with disabilities, then it is essential that society also respect and value the child in the womb as well. Please contact your Senator…to respectfully urge a vote to pass HB 625 without any amendments that would water down the bill.” (Emphasis in the original.)

Cornerstone: watch out for amendments

Cornerstone Action published a commentary on April 27 entitled “Protect the Late-Term Preborn: Don’t Let Amendments Sabotage HB 625.”

While favoring amendments from Sens. Regina Birdsell and Harold French – the texts of which were not part of Cornerstone’s post – the organization warned against other proposals, including an exception for eugenic abortions.

“If HB 625-FN is to pass and fulfill its moderate mission of protecting late-term preborn life in the state, it will need informed and educated support for the original bill and the proposed Birdsell and French amendments. Any other amendments could endanger the bill and its effectiveness.”

(While I am no longer a lobbyist, I formerly represented Cornerstone at the State House.

The next Senate calendar will be published this evening.

House-passed budget contains language to bar abortion funding

The New Hampshire House has passed a budget with language “to ensure that public funds are not used to subsidize abortions directly or indirectly”. The proposed budget now goes to the Senate for consideration.

While New Hampshire has long protected taxpayers from most abortion funding (there are exceptions), the new House language calls for complete physical and financial separation of abortion from family planning. This would mean that an entity seeking a contract with the state to provide family planning services – say, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England – would not be eligible unless its abortion business were set up as a separate entity.

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Senate Committee to hear life-issue bills March 30

The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary committee will hold hearings on Tuesday, March 30 on two life-issue bills, HB 233 and HB 625.

The hearing on HB 233, to protect infants who survive attempted abortion, will be at 1 p.m. A hearing on HB 625, to limit late-term abortions, will follow at 1:30. Hearings are still being held remotely, via Zoom videoconference. Members of the public can register online in advance to testify . The same sign-in process is used to register support or opposition without providing testimony.

I described the bills and their course through the House in “House passes two life-issue bills, overturning committee reports.

Members of the public may view the Senate Judiciary hearing using the following links:

  1. Link to Zoom Webinar: https://www.zoom.us/j/91687899729
  2. To listen via telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
    1-301-715-8592, or 1-312-626-6799 or 1-929-205-6099, or 1-253-215-8782, or 1-346-248-7799, or 1-669-900-6833
  3. Or iPhone one-tap: US: +13017158592,,91687899729# or +13126266799,, 91687899729#
  4. Webinar ID: 916 8789 9729