Correction: Hearing Date for Abortion Insurance Mandate 2/18

I posted an incorrect date for the upcoming hearing on SB 486-FN, a bill to require insurance plans which cover maternity benefits to provide coverage for abortion services. The hearing is Tuesday, FEBRUARY 18, not March as I originally reported. I regret my error. I have corrected my earlier post on the bill, which includes location and time for the hearing.

As luck would have it, my mistake was in a high-traffic post. If you shared it (and thank you for reading, by the way), please share this correction as well.

Abortion Amendment Gets House Vote Feb. 19-20

CACR 14 is on the New Hampshire House calendar for the two-day session scheduled for February 19th and 20th. The vote could come either day. The House will vote on the committee recommendation of “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL) on the proposed constitutional amendment that would protect abortion under the New Hampshire Constitution.

I’ll be urging my state representatives to uphold the committee’s ITL recommendation, perhaps by saying “just drive a stake through the thing already.” Find out about your reps and how to contact them on the General Court website.

See coverage of the committee vote for more information about CACR 14.

From the committee recommendation of ITL, written by Rep. Paul Berch: “The majority was composed of members with two differing points of view. Some members felt that the matter of personal reproductive decisions should not be in the constitution and, if it were, certain limitations and prohibitions should be included in the language. Other members of the majority were sympathetic to the intention of the CACR, but found the provisions contradictory, confusing and subject to possible unintended consequences.”

Bill to Mandate Abortion Coverage Gets Hearing February 18

(An earlier version of this post carried a headline saying “March 18.” The correct date is February 18.) The latest abortion bill to come to the New Hampshire legislature in 2020 is the so-called “Women’s Reproductive Health Parity Act of 2020,” SB 486-FN. The bill will have a hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday, February 18, at 2:15 p.m. in room 100 of the State House.

From the bill’s official analysis on its cover page: “This bill requires insurance plans which cover maternity benefits to provide coverage for emergency or elective abortion services.”

Yes, parity between maternity and abortion, as though abortion were health care. Are you an employer whose benefits to employees include health insurance? You’ll help pay for abortions if this passes. It’ll be interesting to see which organizations and companies sign up in favor of this bill at the hearing.

Private and public plans are both included. Medicaid funds originating with the federal government are not supposed to go for abortion, so the bill includes this: “If the commissioner determines that enforcement of any policy described under paragraph I may adversely affect the allocation of federal funds to New Hampshire, the commissioner may grant an exemption to the requirements of this section only to the minimum extent necessary to ensure the continued receipt of federal funds.”

Don’t let that comfort you. You’ll recall what happened the last time the federal government made a rule that threatened to affect abortion providers, don’t you? Advocates for abortion providers simply appropriated state funds to cover what the feds wouldn’t.

The members of the Commerce committee are Sens. Kevin Cavanaugh, Jon Morgan, Donna Soucy, Harold French, and Chuck Morse.

Big Talk, Then a Whimper: Senate Tables Born-Alive

The New Hampshire Senate has voted 14-10 along party lines to table SB 741-FN, a born-alive infant protection act.

Words vs. Actions

Before the tabling motion was made, Sen. Thomas Sherman (D-Rye) introduced the “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL) motion made by the Health and Human Services Committee, of which he is chair. Sen. Sherman called the title of the bill “inflammatory and inaccurate,” said the bill “drives a false narrative,” and added that as a physician “I find this extremely offensive.”

Extremely offended or not, he joined his colleagues a few minutes later in tabling the bill, rather than pressing for a vote on his ITL motion.

Sen. Regina Birdsell (R-Hampstead) emphasized that the bill came down to one question: “isn’t a baby who is born alive a person, no matter what the circumstances of their birth?”

Rather than answering the question, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth) responded by moving to table the bill. In parliamentary terms, a tabling motion sets the bill aside, is non-debatable, and takes precedence over an ITL motion. In practical terms, the tabling motion short-circuited further consideration of the bill, and prevented a vote on Sen. Sherman’s ITL motion.

Affirm the right of every newborn to care, regardless of circumstances of birth? Nope.

A constituent of Sen. Cindy Rosenwald forwarded to me an email the senator sent in reply to a plea to support SB 741-FN. “I hope you will be comforted to know that every person who is born is alive and receives full legal protections.” (There’s an extra “and” in there, no doubt due to hasty typing. I know how that goes.) The senator had a chance with SB 741-FN to add enforcement provisions to “legal protections.” She chose not to, joining her colleagues in punting – er, voting to table.

A vote to remove the bill from the table is unlikely.

Roll Call

Voting to table SB 741-FN, all Democrat party, with district number and hometown: Sens. David Watters (4-Dover), Martha Hennessey (5-Hanover), Jeanne Dietsch (9-Peterborough), Jay Kahn (10-Keene), Shannon Chandley (11-Amherst), Melanie Levesque (12-Brookline), Cindy Rosenwald (13-Nashua), Dan Feltes (15-Concord), Kevin Cavanaugh (16-Manchester), Donna Soucy (18-Manchester), Lou D’Allesandro (20-Manchester), Martha Fuller Clark (21-Portsmouth), Jon Morgan (23-Brentwood), Thomas Sherman (24-Rye.)

Voting against the tabling motion, all Republicans with district number and hometown: Sens. David Starr (1-Franconia), Bob Giuda (2-Warren), Jeb Bradley (3-Wolfeboro), James Gray (6-Rochester), Harold French (7-Franklin), Ruth Ward (8-Stoddard), Sharon Carson (14-Londonderry), John Reagan (17-Deerfield), Regina Birdsell (19-Hampstead), Chuck Morse (22-Salem).

House Bill: Awaiting Committee Vote

The House’s version of born-alive legislation, HB 1675, will have a committee vote on March 4.

Surprise! Senate Wants to Rush ITL on Born-Alive Bill

The New Hampshire Senate’s born-alive infant protection bill, SB 741-FN, faces an Inexpedient to Legislate recommendation when the Senate meets on Thursday, February 13. The vote will come only two days after a committee’s ITL vote.

This is a rush job that I would have missed if the bill’s sponsor hadn’t alerted me today. She was surprised, too. The Senate does not normally act on bills within two days of committee action. I don’t care how busy they are; that kind of move doesn’t give the public much of a heads-up.

Action Alert

So don’t bother with letters and postcards. The Senate decided to rush this one. Call your Senator. Senators provide only office numbers on the General Court web site, no personal ones, so I hope their administrative support staff – which amounts to one person for every three Senators or so – is ready to take messages.

Simple message, really: overturn the committee recommendation, and vote Ought to Pass on SB 741, please and thank you. Short, clear, polite.

Here’s the Senate roster, and here’s the “who’s my senator?” link.

Related: my earlier post on this year’s House and Senate bills on born-alive infant protection.

Wanna Watch?

The Senate session begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday, February 13th. SB 741-FN is the third item on the agenda. The session is open to the public, with the gallery entrance on the second floor of the State House.

Note that the Senate gallery is much smaller than the House’s gallery. Access is via a narrow stairway.

The session will be live-streamed as well. Click on the Streaming Media link near the upper right of the General Court home page.

Committee Action

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2 along party lines on February 11 to recommend Inexpedient to Legislate on SB 741-FN. The bill calls for medically appropriate and reasonable care for any child born alive, including children who survive attempted abortion.

Voting Inexpedient to Legislate, recommending that the bill be killed: Democrats Thomas Sherman (District 24, Rye), Martha Fuller Clark (District 21, Portsmouth), and Shannon Chandley (District 11, Amherst).

The Republicans on the committee, both of them co-sponsors of SB 741-FN, voted against the ITL recommendation: Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro and James Gray of Rochester.

Tale of the Docket

The illustration above is a screenshot from the docket, or official online record of action, for SB 741-FN. Of interest is the last line within the green box, which documents the astoundingly rushed nature of this scheduled Senate vote.

2/11/2020 is the date of the most recent action, the committee vote with its “inexpedient to legislate” report. (The “S” column simply means “Senate.”) Next to that is the date 2/13/2020 and “SC 6A.” That means the Senate will vote on February 13 as recorded in volume 6A of the Senate Calendar.

Two days: make the best of them.