N.H. House Votes Approaching

Update: a heavy House agenda and a session-shortening snowstorm have moved the votes on these bills to Wednesday, March 21, 2018. This will be the second delay for the vote. The deadline for the House to act on the bill is close of the business day on March 22.

Tuesday, March 6, begins what might be a three-day session for the New Hampshire House. The representatives have an agenda that’s about 150 pages long. And yes, there’s a snowstorm in the forecast, as if the schedule weren’t already dicey enough.

Among the bills to be voted on are HB 1680, the Viable Fetus Protection Act; HB 1787, conscience rights for medical professionals; HB 1707, abortion information/informed consent; HB 1721, a ban on coerced abortions.

No, it’s not too late to email your reps. Many of them have smartphones that they use to to check email and text messages during the House session.

Today’s civics lesson: Find your state representatives’ email address via this link on the General Court (legislature) web site. There are phone numbers for each rep as well; some are cell numbers and some are landlines. If you recognize a cell number, use it for a text message Tuesday morning, March 6. Don’t call at unsocial hours (some people have to be reminded of that).

Send a separate message for each bill. In an email, pack the basic message into the subject line in case that’s all the rep has time to read. When writing to your own district’s reps, be sure to mention your town. A subject line might be “Yes on HB 1680, from a [town name] resident.” Keep the message short and courteous (again, some people need to be reminded; present company excepted, I’m sure).

I’ll be monitoring the House session online, and you can, too, if you’re so inclined. Look for the Streaming Media link on the General Court web site.

Committee Nixes Conscience Bill, 14-4

(Updated to delete a reference to HB 1680, which will be addressed in a separate post.)

Today’s chapter in the annals of Aren’t-You-Glad-You-Have-a-Republican-Legislature: the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee has voted “inexpedient to legislate” on HB 1787, a bill to provide conscience protections for medical personnel. The committee recommendation will go to the full House next week.

Voting against the motion to kill the bill were four representatives, all Republican: Joseph Hagan of Chester, Gary Hopper of Weare, Kurt Wuelper of Strafford, and Dan Hynes of Merrimack.

Voting in favor of the “inexpedient to legislate” motion: Reps. Claire Rouillard (R-Goffstown), Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), Kathleen Hoelzel (R-Raymond), Robert Graham (R-Milton), Jason Janvrin (R-Seabrook), John Leavitt (R-Hooksett), Janet Wall (D-Madbury), Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham), Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland), Suzanne Smith (D-Hebron), Linda Kenison (D-Concord), Sandra Keans (D-Rochester), Charlotte DiLorenzo (D-Newmarket), and Debra Altschiller (D-Stratham).

HB 1721, to prevent coerced abortions: ITL, 15-3

On the same day, the committee recommended “inexpedient to legislate” on a bill to prevent coerced abortions. The vote was 15-3. Representatives Wuelper, Hopper, and Leavitt voted against the ITL motion.

 

On Pain, Viability, and Votes

On the agenda this week: two bills addressing mid- and late-term abortions. One bill is federal, and it fell short on a procedural vote in the U.S. Senate. The other bill is getting its hearing this week (January 31, 10:00 a.m.) before a New Hampshire House committee, a year after a similar bill was tabled in the House.

The opposition by abortion advocates is predictable, as is the split among pro-lifers.

Federal: the “Pain-Capable” Bill

The U.S. Senate failed this week to advance a so-called “Pain-Capable” bill, which would have limited abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy, the point at which preborn children can feel pain. As if the very title of the bill weren’t enough to calm fears that it might actually confer personhood on anyone (it was written to be merely a limitation on abortion), the bill contained exceptions for children conceived through rape and incest.

The point of those exceptions is anyone’s guess. They provided no tactical advantage of which I’m aware, and they infuriated rape survivors and their children.

We were treated to the disedifying spectacle of the Democratic Senate leader high-fiving a colleague after the vote. They weren’t celebrating the defeat of an exceptions bill. Way to go, guys. Team Gosnell prevails again.

Here are two different views of the Pain-Capable Bill, offered by women whose experiences give them a perspective that I’m sure most Senators lack. These are taken from public posts on social media.

Darlene Pawlik at TheDarlingPrincess.com, “The Law is a Teacher” (excerpt):

This bill teaches that children over 20 weeks gestation deserve protection from the horrific pain of having arms and legs torn off or their heads and chests crushed at the hands of abortionists. It further teaches that, a similar child who’s unfortunate enough to be the second victim of rape does not deserve to be protected form that same excruciating death.

…It is very important to note that perhaps, the one person, the mom, who could redeem the situation would be left with the guilt of committing an atrocity against another innocent victim. This could set her up for post traumatic stress responses for the rest of her life.

…I was not only conceived by a violent rape, but my first child was born as a result of sex trafficking. I am the target of this kind of legislation….

Of course, I’ll ask you to remove the exceptions. These exceptions undermine to premise of the bill. They are discriminatory and unjust. No child should receive the death sentence for the crime of their father.

Catherine Adair on Facebook:

I find it really hard to talk about the defeat of the 20-week abortion bill by Senate Democrats. Every time I think about it, I am right back in the abortion clinic, staring at a jar filled with the severed arms and legs of a baby who just moments before had been ripped apart in [its] mother’s womb. I am right back to that place where I told mothers that the doctor was going to “gently extract the contents of the uterus.” Women in their 23rd week of pregnancy were lied to and told it was a simple “procedure.”

Nobody told them that they and their baby would be in agony as the doctor used forceps and sharp instruments to dismember their child, pulling and tugging until the baby was ripped apart and he could pull the body out, piece by piece.

…To see Senate Democrats high-fiving each other on the Senate floor truly left me sickened….What kind of a society allows such barbaric killing? What kind of a society allows late-term abortion to be used as a way to generate profits for a body parts selling industry? Have people lost all sense of their humanity?

Even writing this I can smell the sick, horrifying smell of the abortion procedure room. It is something that will never leave me. I want to run and hide and pretend like this barbarism isn’t happening. I truly can’t bear the horror. But I have to say something, if only in memory of the thousands of babies whose blood I have on my hands.

Dear God, I implore you to awaken those who are blind, those who helped to defeat this bill, and those who voted against it. Please open their eyes. Please give them back their humanity. Please have mercy on us.

In New Hampshire: the Viable Fetus Protection Act

Rep. Keith Murphy (R-Bedford) is leading a team of sponsors on HB 1680, to restrict abortions after viability. Restrict, not ban: it has exceptions (though none for rape and incest). Far from undermining Roe, it is consistent with Roe’s holding that the state may assert an interest in prenatal life in the latter stages of pregnancy. New Hampshire is a place of abortion extremism, where unregulated providers can do the deed anytime until the preborn child comes to term. HB 1680 is an attempt to change that, in a modest way.

The bill does not pretend to push against any constitutional limits. It doesn’t pretend to be about personhood. It is a straightforward bid “to assert a compelling state interest in protecting the lives of viable unborn fetuses.” It even leaves the determination of viability to the “treating physician,” meaning the abortion provider.

I support the bill as a step toward loosening the grip of abortion absolutists on my state’s public policy, just as I supported Murphy’s HB 578 last year.

New Hampshire Right to Life takes a different view.

This bill prohibits post-viability abortions (which NHRTL supports) but it also includes exceptions for the [unrestrained] health of the mother; for Twin To Twin Transfer (TTS) syndrome; and for Fetal anomalies incompatible with life. NHRTL cannot support enacting law that explicitly excludes any class of humans from legal protection. [brackets and parentheses in original]

I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate that if – if – HB 1680 is defeated or derailed, abortion advocates will be high-fiving in Reps Hall just as they did in the U.S. Capitol the other day. And once again, they won’t be high-fiving over the defeat of “exceptions.”

 

But Wait, There’s More

[Update, 2 p.m.: According to a source present at the hearing, the committee voted “inexpedient to legislate” on this bill immediately after the hearing. The bill is likely to go to the full House on February 7.]

[Edited 1/24/18 to clarify the distinction between parental consent and notification.]

Just when you think you’re on top of all the life-issue bills in Concord, something else turns up. Comes now a measure that would nullify the parental notification law for abortion – and would eliminate the need for parental consent for cosmetic surgery, setting a broken bone, or anything else that health care professionals consider “treatment” – for minors 16 years of age and older. HB 1503 will be heard Wednesday, January 24, at 10 a.m. at the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs (HHS) Committee, room 205 of the Legislative Office Building (LOB) in Concord.

The hearing is open to the public, and comments may be emailed to the committee at HHSEA@leg.state.nh.us.

HB 1503 is sponsored by Rep. Caleb Dyer (L-Pelham).

“A health care provider shall obtain the independent consent of any minor 16 years of age or older who undergoes any elective or non-elective medical procedure. For the purposes of this subdivision, “health care provider” means any person, corporation, facility, or institution either licensed by this state or otherwise lawfully providing health care services….This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.”

New Hampshire’s parental notification law for abortion would be effectively nullified by HB 1503. The judicial-bypass provision of that law would be moot with the passage of a law giving 16- and 17-year-olds the authority to provide consent on their own.

The law doesn’t single out abortion. Nor does it explain just where parents would fit in at all: would a parent be financially responsible for procedures to which a minor child consents?

Whatever the sponsor’s intent, he has added another item to my watch list.

 


A few other hearings of note, all on January 31, 2018 (Wednesday):

  • HB 1787, relative to conscience rights for medical professionals, House HHS, 1:15 p.m., room 205 LOB
  • HB 1680, relative to abortions after viability, House Judiciary Committee, 10:00 a.m., room 208 LOB.
  • HB 1721, relative to coerced abortions.

Not yet scheduled: SB 490, establishing a committee to “study” end-of-life issues.