One signature away from NH buffer zones; here’s how Senators voted

Peaceful protest, blocking nothing.
Praying in front of Concord’s Feminist Health Center: soon to be banned.

The New Hampshire Senate concurred with House changes to SB 319, the buffer zone bill. The bill will go to Governor Maggie Hassan, who supports it. The governor has five business days in which to sign it, and the law will go into effect 30 days after that.

To let Governor Hassan know how you feel about the bill, the phone number for her office is 603-271-2121. 

There was some confusion today, with buffer zone opponent Sen. Sam Cataldo apparently inadvertently voting in favor of the bill (much to my surprise) before he corrected himself on a reconsideration vote. The final tally was 13-10 to concur with the House, with pro-buffer Sen. David Watters (D-Dover) absent.

Sen. Sharon Carson (NH Senate photo)
Sen. Sharon Carson (NH Senate photo)

Once again, as she did when SB 319 came up for the first time in February, Sen. Sharon Carson stood up to ask her colleagues to remember that SB 319 “is a free speech issue.” She also noted that the Supreme Court still has not ruled on the Massachusetts buffer zone, making this a particularly untimely vote.

With the exception of the absent Sen. Watters, and a switch by Sen. John Reagan (who in February voted for the bill because, according to a Union Leader report, he thought the debate was “droning on”), the roll call was grimly familiar. “Remember in November” isn’t enough. Remember in June, when it’s time to file for office. Remember in September, during the primary election.

Supporters of the bill talk about “patient safety.” They refused during hearings on the bill to note what kind of safety threat is posed by the presence of people praying silently.

Supporting the buffer zone, thereby nullifying the First Amendment within whatever zone (“up to 25 feet”) an abortion facility chooses to post:

Sen. Donna Soucy, chief sponsor of SB 319 (E. Kolb photo)
Sen. Donna Soucy, chief sponsor of SB 319 (E. Kolb photo)

Senators Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton), Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro; co-sponsor), David Pierce (D-Lebanon), Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia), Bob Odell (R-Lempster, co-sponsor), Molly Kelly (D-Keene), Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis), Bette Lasky (D-Nashua), Sylvia Larsen (D-Concord), Donna Soucy (D-Manchester; chief sponsor), Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester; co-sponsor), Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth), Nancy Stiles (R-Hampton; co-sponsor).

Opposing the buffer zone:

Senators Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith), Sam Cataldo (R-Farmington), Andy Sanborn (R-Bedford), Peter Bragdon (R-Milford), Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry), David Boutin (R-Manchester), John Reagan (R-Deerfield), Jim Rausch (R-Derry), Chuck Morse (R-Salem), Russ Prescott (R-Kingston).




Author: Ellen Kolb

New Hampshire-based writer, activist, hiker.