A New Hampshire legislative committee will send a born-alive infants’ protection bill to the House floor next week with an “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL) recommendation, on a 9-7 vote. In other words, a bill to ensure that care is afforded to children who survive attempted abortion got a thumbs-down.
On such a close vote, a floor fight on HB 1627 is assured when the bill reaches the House floor next week.
Committee member Rep. Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford) noted that there is a federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, applicable to federally-funded agencies. This kind of state-level protective legislation is not a new concept. “This only protects babies that happen to survive an abortion procedure.” He urged his colleagues to support the bill.
So did Rep. Barry Palmer (R-Nashua). He mentioned to his colleagues his experience as an EMT. “You want to do everything you can to save a person. What is the harm in trying?” His colleague Rep. Joseph Hagan (R-Chester), a physician, commended Palmer “Having done a thousand or more resuscitations, I agree with what you say.”
Rep. Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland) had an answer for Rep. Palmer. “The harm is potential criminalization of doctors who make a decision.”
A decision. Think about that. There’s only one decision at issue in HB 1627: a decision to refuse care to a child born alive after attempted abortion.
Berch went on to say that the bill “interferes with the decision-making process at a very sensitive time.” There’s that word decision again. He mentioned problems with the bill: “vague concepts…poorly drafted…’evidence of life’ is subject to disagreement. I don’t want to use the word ‘extreme,’ but I guess I will.”
A very sensitive time. Yes, I suppose you could say it’s a sensitive matter when a child escapes an abortion attempt. For years, it’s been unclear in New Hampshire law whether a woman seeking abortion is entitled to a terminated pregnancy or a dead baby. The “dead baby” caucus with its minority of votes prevailed today, because those votes were augmented by several votes from reps with pro-life voting records who had strictly technical objections to the bill.
Objections from pro-life reps…
Rep. Robert Rowe (R-Amherst), Judiciary Committee chairman, said, “I agree with the goals and philosophy of this bill, but second session [i.e. the latter half of a two-year legislative term] is not the time” to consider a bill he called “complex and flawed.” Hagan likewise supported the bill’s intent, but said it was “not ready for prime time.”
No one on the committee who had issues with the language or other technical aspects of the bill proposed any amendment today. No one proposed interim study. No one proposed anything other than the ITL motion.
…and objections from others
One legislator asked a question I found astoundingly disingenuous, and I was pleased that she was called on it almost immediately by one of her colleagues. Rep. Linda Kenison (D-Concord) said that she knew of no statistics indicating that the born-alive phenomenon was even happening. “I don’t think it is a good idea to base a law on assumptions.” Rep. Gary Hopper (R-Weare) didn’t let that pass, reminding the committee that repeated efforts to get an abortion-statistics reporting law in New Hampshire have been “thwarted.”
Rep. Kenison voted ITL anyway. No stats, no problem.
Republican Charlene Takesian of Pelham – she of pamphlet-could-be-an-act-of-violence fame – advised her fellow committee members, “We should not be legislating these medical procedures from here.”
It’s actually the failure to provide medical procedures that’s at issue, but let’s move on.
Hopper had a few words for colleagues who were fretting about telling doctors what to do. “Physicians aren’t God. They can be accountable for what they do.”
On to the House floor
The discussion ended with that 9-7 ITL vote. Majority and minority reports will be printed in an upcoming House calendar. House members will be relying on those reports as they decide how to treat the bill. Perhaps some will rely on messages from constituents as well.
Interim study, anyone?
The Judiciary Committee vote on HB 1627, on the motion “inexpedient to legislate”:
- For the ITL motion, to recommend killing the Born Alive Infant Protection Act: Reps. Rowe (R-Amherst), Hagan (R-Chester), Janet Wall (D-Durham), Takesian (R-Pelham), Claire Rouillard (R-Goffstown), Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham), Berch (D-Westmoreland), David Woodbury (D-New Boston), Kenison (D-Concord).
- Against the ITL motion and against killing the bill: Reps. Hopper (R-Weare), Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), Palmer (R-Nashua), Robert Hull (R-Grafton), Mark McLean (R-Manchester), Wuelper (R-Strafford), Robert Graham (R-Milton).