“History is written by the winners,” wrote Orwell. Not if I can help it.
No earthly victory is final. Even so, there’s no denying that New Hampshire’s abortion industry just scored big. Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement as she signed SB 319, New Hampshire’s buffer zone law, nullifying the First Amendment at the discretion of abortion providers.
“Women should be able to access critical health services without fearing for their safety, and this bipartisan, common-sense measure will help ensure the safety of patients and the public, while also protecting the rights of free speech and privacy. A woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions is essential to the economic health of our families, and I thank Senator Soucy, legislators from both parties and other advocates for their efforts to pass this important legislation, as well as law enforcement and municipal officials for their input to narrowly tailor the bill to protect the rights of Granite Staters.”
Leaven has covered this legislation in detail from the first public revelation that it was under consideration. This is, admittedly, advocacy journalism. I refuse to back down from that in the face of the Governor’s own advocacy. Lest her statement stand alone as “history,” a few reminders are in order.
- No law enforcement official – none – testified that public safety was at stake. All claims of safety concerns came from abortion providers and their supporters. From Leaven’s post on the House hearing: “[Chief Sponsor Senator Donna] Soucy testified that ten police calls were made in 2013 involving the Manchester [Planned Parenthood] facility. Committee members asked her how many arrests resulted. The answer: none. Jennifer Frizzell of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England testified to the committee about the sixty complaints PP received from its own clients in 2013 about activity outside PP facilities. Resulting arrests: zero.” At the Senate hearing, when an abortion advocate testified about violence outside abortion facilities, Sen. Sam Cataldo had the presence of mind to ask her how many of those incidents had occurred in New Hampshire. Answer: none.
- When the Governor and abortion advocates use the phrase “critical health services,” they put the induced-and-paid-for death of a preborn child in the same category as Pap smears and periodic routine physicals. The smooth and insistent repetition of the phrase is supposed to lull me. It does not.
- “A woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions is essential to the economic health of our families.” Abortion is healthcare? Not for the human being whose life is terminated. People aren’t commodities. The sponsors of SB 319 don’t want that inconvenient fact to figure into the justification for the bill.
- The input of “law enforcement and municipal officials” praised by the Governor is a joke. As the House executive session on the bill made clear and as the plain language of the bill confirms, no cop, municipal official, or neighbor can prevent the establishment of a buffer zone. The sole determiners of the location and size of buffer zones are the abortion providers. Remember the remarks at the executive session preceding the House committee vote, when a legislator tried to amend the bill to give neighbors and municipalities a role in the buffer zone process. Rep. Horrigan worried that the amendment (which was ultimately rejected) “might give a planning board veto power.” Rep. Takesian’s view: “too much local control.” Rep. Gale: hearings and notice might allow people to “hijack the process.”
Narrowly tailored? Sure, in the sense that the law was crafted to accommodate a single powerful industry. But a law is hardly narrow when it lumps violent criminals, sidewalk counselors, and silent witnesses into one bag of illegality. To Governor Hassan – and now, regrettably, to the state of New Hampshire – there is no difference between firing a gun and handing out pamphlets.
That may be the biggest lie of all, underlying New Hampshire’s new law: equating peaceful First Amendment exercise with domestic terrorism. The woman who wrote the majority report in the House calendar before the House vote, Rep. Takesian, said during the committee’s executive session that handing a woman a leaflet “could be an act of violence.”
All of this is part of the history of the law. I will not let it go unrecorded. Further, let it be noted that members of both parties were complicit in passage. Most of all, though, passage is a tribute to the effective political network built by New Hampshire’s abortion providers. Follow the money & the endorsements if you doubt me. Pro-life New Hampshire voters, so contemptuously disregarded today, have a lot to learn. It’s not too late.