Decisions: Lynch & Bass

The fetal homicide and partial-birth abortion bills would not die, despite grueling journeys through the New Hampshire House & Senate. Look up the dockets for these bills on the state web site sometime. A number of tales are hidden behind those dry factual entries.

And so, at long last, Governor Lynch will get these bills. I am telling every pro-life person I know to get those calls and emails going. The number is 271-2121, where I’m sure a very polite individual is waiting to take our calls. Lynch’s pleasant and understated persona is not enough to make me forget that he vetoed parental notification (and overriding that veto was one of the proudest moments for the legislative class of ’10). He has not made direct veto threats on either fetal homicide or partial birth, but on the latter, it’s a real stretch for me to believe he’ll support it.

As for fetal homicide, if Lynch can’t be persuaded by the state Supreme court’s Lamy case, he just can’t be persuaded.

The success of these bills so far is great news, and it shows what can be done with legislators who can think straight. As for the governor, we live in hope. What will he do?

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In Congress today, a bill called PRENDA came up for a vote, and fell short of the two-thirds that it needed. PRENDA stands for Pregnancy Nondiscrimination Act, and it was written to ban sex-selection abortions. PP hates the bill, and the president has weighed in against it as well. When the dust settled this afternoon, only seven Republicans had voted against the bill. One was Charlie Bass, New Hampshire’s own Congressman from the Second District.

Bass is avowedly pro-choice, and has been for as long as I can remember. I used to testify in front of his committee when he was a state senator. But refusing to frown on sex selection? Really? Worldwide, most of the preborn children killed for being the “wrong” sex are girls. There’s a war on women for you.

This won’t help him in November, of course, since Ann Kuster will get the pro-Roe vote. Kuster’s mother, the late Susan McLane, served with Bass in the state senate years ago. McLane and Bass were both “pro-choice” Republicans. It is some kind of rough justice that pits McLane’s daughter against Bass now.

Backward & Forward

Custer went forward. Lemmings go forward. The Light Brigade went forward. And now, in an exquisitely apt marketing move, the incumbent president has chosen “Forward” as the slogan for his re-election campaign.

The vice-president, in a noisy visit to Keene State College a few days ago (why does he always wind up yelling at his audience, anyway?), pleased the youthful crowd by declaring “we will not go back to the 50s on social policy.”

So social policy shall move “forward” if the incumbent president is re-elected. Social policy includes abortion, which will remain legal if we choose to move “forward”. Not safe-and-rare, as former presidents have said in an effort to sound moderate.  Just legal, so we don’t go back to the bad old pre-Roe v. Wade days of back alleys & knitting needles and women dying.

Listening at one hearing after another in Concord this year on bills that touch on the life issues, I was struck more than once by how many of Roe’s defenders sounded scared of the future even as they said they were determined not to go back into the past.

Eugenic abortion was surely one of the twentieth century’s most ghastly ideas – one that belongs in the past, even when it’s prettied up with the euphemism “therapeutic.” Yet this year, I heard objections to New Hampshire’s fetal homicide bill (still in the balance, by the way, with yet another vote coming next week) based on the fear that it might interfere with selective reduction. Assisted reproductive technologies that call for implantation of multiple embryos in a woman’s womb also call for the culling of the surplus once pregnancy is established. Apparently, to protect the brave new world, he only way to face the future is by planting one foot firmly in the past.

A bill for informed consent for abortion prompted some women to recount heartbreaking stories of pregnancies gone tragically wrong, with fetal anomalies diagnosed prenatally. The mothers chose abortion, because it “wasn’t fair” to bring such a child into the world. So what’s wrong with informed consent? These women said they resented the assumption that abortion providers weren’t already being perfectly upfront. They also complained that the 24-hour waiting period in the bill would have caused them an additional 24 hours of anguish (with the unspoken corollary being that their anguish somehow subsided once their children were dead). Keep abortion quick and unregulated: no back-alley abortionist from the 1950s could have asked for more. Those shades of the 50s can rest easy, knowing that New Hampshire’s 2012 informed consent bill was killed.

New Hampshire public health officials do not collect abortion statistics, letting the abortion industry voluntarily provide whatever information it sees fit. A bill to require collection of statistics was passed this year after being amended into nearly-unrecognizable form, and now a committee will consider whether it’s a good idea to collect the statistics. (This is glacial progress, as opposed to incremental.) Who fought this one? Abortion providers.  Planned Parenthood of Northern New England along with the Feminist Health Center in Concord and the Lovering Center in Greenland all sent representatives to the hearings on this one. They all earnestly assured legislators that they DO report the number of abortions done at their facilities. Honest. They do not want oversight even to the extent of accounting for the number of procedures or reporting on morbidity and mortality to the women who have abortions. Again, the pre-Roe industry of illegal abortionists would approve wholeheartedly.

In the past, no one kept track of how many women suffered and died after abortion. Bernard Nathanson, MD, a founder of NARAL who later became a pro-life advocate, wrote candidly after leaving the abortion industry that NARAL leaders invented maternal-mortality figures in the late 1960s to try to build support for liberalization of abortion laws. To this day, we don’t know if legal abortion has been any safer for women. The same people who criticize anecdotal reports from pro-life sources, and demand hard figures, flee from those figures when they make their own arguments. (By the way, if you can find Nathanson’s book Aborting America, read it. It’s one of those basic books for the pro-life library.)

Moving forward, really forward, means we will want to know for sure how many women are being left to die or suffer permanent injury after abortion. We will want to know who is doing the procedures and we’ll want to know the safety record of the provider (granting that the babies always wind up dead). We’ll want to know at what point in pregnancy the terminations take place. We’ll want to do more for each other than recommend death when disability looms.

So, forward, Mr. Biden?

Week In Review, Days Ahead

Several topics and observations today. Something for everyone, I hope. Copy and forward as you wish.

Tenacity and patience have thus far kept a few important bills going. I expect that both the partial birth ban and fetal homicide bills will be scrutinized anew by House committees on Tuesday. The Senate amended both bills, and the House may choose to concur, requiring no further action except a trip to Governor Lynch’s desk, or request a committee of conference. Concurrence would be the right outcome, since the Senate amendments didn’t gut either bill.

Lynch’s spokesman was finally moved to take note of HB 217 (the fetal homicide) a few days ago, and his remarks were not encouraging.

Keep an eye on the Cornerstone Policy Research Facebook page and @nhcornerstone Twitter feed for Tuesday coverage of House committee votes on these bills.

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Nongermane amendments are nothing new in legislative work, rules or no rules. If leadership wants one, in it goes, productive or not. Such moves always seem like a good idea at the time, at least to the person making the amendment.

The Senate sent a late term abortion ban (HB 1660) to interim study. Not so fast, replied the House last Thursday. The ban was added as an amendment to a bill on pulse oximetry for newborns (SB 348) by a four-vote margin. Less than ten minutes later, the House reversed itself. The sponsor of SB 348, the indisputably pro-life Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker (R-Concord), pleaded for the main bill, stressing that the Senate would kill it if it contained the abortion amendment.

The nongermane amendment in this case resulted in nothing more than two confusing House votes. The proponents of late-term abortions can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that New Hampshire will continue to keep abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy.

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Filing period for the fall elections is coming up June 6-15. Details here. Some good pro-lifers have chosen not to run again, so anyone who wants to step up may find an open seat available.

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Mark your calendar for Friday, June 8th at noon. There will be a Standing Up for Religious Freedom rally outside the federal courthouse in Concord, where a similar rally was held a few months ago. As long as the federal HHS mandate is still part of Obamacare, religious freedom is under attack and no church is safe. See you there – and bring your kids, your neighbors, your minister, and even your state rep. I’ll be one of the speakers. (Please be there anyway.) There was a  Bush II era bumper sticker displayed back in the day by some disaffected voters: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Okay, then. Let’s all be utterly patriotic on June 8th.

About Time: an Alternative to Guttmacher Institute

I note with great pleasure the rollout of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. The Lozier Institute is the education and research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List, which promotes the election of pro-life women and men to Congress. The Lozier Institute looks to me like a breakthrough in policy research.

For years, the Guttmacher Institute has been relied upon by policymakers at all levels for statistical information about abortion and reproductive health care (which are two different things – repeat after me: abortion is not health care). Formerly an arm of Planned Parenthood, the organizations allegedly split in the late 1970s. However formal the split may be in a legal and financial sense, Guttmacher is hand-in-glove with PP on policy.

Guttmacher’s statistics and findings are given entirely too much credence at the State House, as I’ve seen through the years. I have to remind lawmakers from time to time that any “statistics” Guttmacher reports about New Hampshire are based on voluntarily-reported information from abortion providers, since the state of NH does not collect abortion statistics. Most of the NH statistical information reported to Guttmacher about abortions comes from PPNNE. PPNNE then sends its lobbyist to Concord to fight efforts to enact a bill to require the state to collect statistics. PP-reported figures go to Guttmacher, which bases policy research on those numbers, and then the research is used by PP to advance its mission. Fuzzy math, cozy relationship.

I am looking forward to learning what the Lozier Institute is able to do to provide a clearer picture of how abortion is affecting us as individuals and as a community. It’s encouraging to know that the parent organization, SBA List, has been extremely supportive of efforts in NH and elsewhere to require public health authorities to gather accurate information. How many abortions in NH? How old are the mothers? At what gestational age are pregnancies terminated? What about morbidity and mortality for the mothers, both short- and long-term? Who’s doing these procedures? Where?

I recommend supporting the Lozier Institute’s research. It will take time, but I hope legislators and public health officials will soon see that Guttmacher isn’t the only kid on the block.

Week in Review: Hurry Up & Wait

As previously reported, the Senate last Wednesday passed HCR 31, commending pregnancy care centers. This straightforward legislative pat on the back to an invaluable pro-life resource must go to the House for agreement on some changes.

HB 217, fetal homicide, was put off by the Senate until next Wednesday. The amendment printed in the calendar should not create any further delay, but then again, there have already been two delays that caught me and the chief sponsor by surprise.

HCR 41 was killed in the Senate. This resolution asking Congress to scold the feds for funding PPNNE over the objections of the Executive Council would have had no substantive effect but would have sent a message to our Washington representatives.

Legislators annoyed by the financial end-run in PPNNE’s favor should now focus on HB 228. There will be other contract proposals before the Exec Council, and HB 228 sits on the table in the Senate. That’s not a good place for it.

Fate unknown, possibly being taken up this week:

  • HB 1679, partial-birth abortion ban. House & Senate must reconcile language.
  • HB 1653, respecting conscience rights for medical professionals, was tabled by the House months ago and seems unlikely to be taken up.

The legislative session runs through the end of June, but the state budget dominates the last weeks of a session. The life bills are likely to be dealt with soon.

The House will meet next week on Tuesday & Wednesday, and possibly Thursday if the lengthy calendar requires that much time. The Senate will meet Wednesday.

2012 NH Republican Women’s Summit Live Blog

Phyllis Woods on State House Plaza, Concord (E. Kolb photo)
Phyllis Woods on State House Plaza, Concord (E. Kolb photo)

Today, I’m a guest at “This One’s For the Girls”, a 2012 Women’s Summit organized by former New Hampshire state representative and GOP national committeewoman  I am in debt to Phyllis for welcoming me as representative of Cornerstone Action, even though I’m not a Republican. Call me a lapsed Republican.

After prayer and pledge, program begins with a greeting from NHGOP chairman Wayne MacDonald followed by an RNC video on the history of American women’s suffrage. Let it not be forgotten that women’s history is not the exclusive province of the Democratic party.

I can’t thank Phyllis enough. Her service to NH through the years has been remarkable, and her friendship and mentoring to me means a great deal. This event is happening thanks to her.

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Rep. Pam Tucker, Deputy Speaker of the NH House, on women in the legislature: interesting that until 1998, GOP women outnumbered Democratic women in the NH House. Thanks to the 2010 GOP landslide, there are now 58 GOP women in the House and three in the Senate. “Can you imagine if we had a Republican majority of women in the House?” Says “there is a massive support system in the House & Senate” for women.

As for “women’s issues”, “we are making a difference to the future of the state.” She goes on to list those issues: education; strong economy; strong families; public safety; environment; embracing new technology; health care.

(My comment: I give Rep. Tucker full marks for staying on message. Abortion and the life issues are being supported but not stressed by House leadership. Of course, we all know that Republican does not necessarily mean pro-life or conservative. One must vet one’s candidates. I could add this to every post today, but I won’t.)

“You will be a role model, whether you like it or not” if you’re elected. True enough. In my opinion, that’s why it’s so heartbreaking when an elected Republican woman votes against things like parental notification and informed consent. On the other hand, it’s good to see so many pro-life GOP reps here today. May their tribe increase.

Next speaker: Susie Hudson, Vermont’s GOP National Committeewoman, on the Republican National Committee: she rightly starts with thanks & recognition to Phyllis Woods, who has just stepped down as NH’s committeewoman. She notes that RNC has a rule that chair and co-chair must be of opposite genders. (Affirmative action? You decide.)  She gets applause when she says she’d like to get rid of that gender rule completely (Good!), but an attempt to change that rule has thus far not gained sufficient support. Hudson goes on to encourage involvement in party leadership on the state level, and RNC is developing training programs to make that easier.

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Next up: panel with Sen. Nancy Stiles, Rep. Laurie Sanborn, and Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker, discussing how they decided to run and what it’s like being in office.

NS: three terms in House before being elected to Senate in 2010. Her work with her professional association brought her to Concord to testify as a member of the public, and she found herself facing committees “full of men” who were not particularly responsive. Result: running for office. She serves on the Senate Education committee. In the Senate, “you look at all the stakeholders in the room, and ask ‘can you all live with the language in this bill?’ If so, we tend to support it.”  Unlike the House, the Senate does not have time to “get down into the weeds”  on bills. She plans to run for re-election.

LS: Never considered herself politically active until about four years ago. The LLC tax passed a few years ago (“an income tax on small businesses”) galvanized her and her husband (now-Sen. Andy Sanborn) into running. She challenged an 18-year incumbent, and “never thought in a million years I could win” in a college town, “but I did it.” Useful piece of advice she got: “be an expert on something,” which in her case is business. She looked around for a coalition of like-minded legislators, and when she couldn’t find one, she started one. Praises House Republican Alliance for its support. “Women have a special bond … we can do great things together.” Will run again, but she’s moving from Henniker to Bedford and so will have a new district in which to campaign.

LB: A nurse and naval officer by profession (recently returned from Afghanistan); went to law school “to build credibility” as she advocated for veterans. Working for former Congressman & NH Supreme Court Justice Chuck Douglas in his law/lobbying practice exposed her to day-to-day legislative work. Watching a parental notification vote from the gallery one day when the Democrats were in control, she was livid to see so many seats empty on the House floor. “I wanted to be part of the solution… I had no idea how hard this (campaigning) would be.” She gets applause when she says how parental notification was eventually passed. She recommends the Vesta Roy program for GOP NH women, which she thinks would have helped her as a candidate. Won her House seat in a special election by 17 votes, and then won a regular election by 40 votes – no mean feat in Concord! Does not plan to seek re-election; she has been recalled to Afghanistan. “Step up,” she concludes. She also gives a shout-out to homeschoolers for the effective way they tend to communicate with legislators – no canned emails.

In the Q&A, Rep. Laurie Pettengill asks “do you think about the GOP platform when you vote?” Stiles: yes, “but I also think about the people I represent. ” Sanborn: “absolutely, and I also look at my palm card” to be reminded of her promises. Blankenbeker: “The first thing I look at is constitutionality … [then] does this align with our party values … [then] liberty … and constituency.”

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a Granite State pro-life blog by Ellen Kolb