Week In Review: bills in Senate; odds ‘n’ ends

The fetal homicide bill about which I wrote last week, HB 217, is on Wednesday’s NH Senate calendar after being put off a week. Last-minute objections regarding the bill’s potential unintended effect on the practice of in vitro fertilization have apparently been addressed to the GOP leadership’s satisfaction. I’ll be in the gallery to watch this vote. If the bill passes, and it should, it will be the culmination of twenty years of work stretching from the late Rep. Carolyn Brady (R-Manchester) to current Rep. Kathy Souza (R-Manchester). If the bill for some reason does not pass or is shelved, it will be the second time since 2009 that legislators have refused to act on the state Supreme Court’s request in the Lamy case to “re-visit” homicide laws as they pertain to a fetus.

The Senate will also take up the resolution commending pregnancy care centers, HCR 31 (subject of another blog post last week). I expect this to pass on party lines, although I wouldn’t be shocked if Sens. Odell & Stiles voted no. Why on earth should anyone vote no? But some legislators see threats to Roe the way three-year-olds see monsters in the closet: the monsters aren’t there, but there’s no reasoning with the three-year-old’s imagination.

I don’t see HCR 41 passing. That’s the resolution calling the federal grant to PPNNE “unconstitutional and void.” At the committee hearing last week, the resolution got a 4-1 “inexpedient to legislate” vote, and Sen. Molly Kelly (D-Keene) will present the report to the full Senate. The Senate does not seem to share the outrage in the House about the federal side-step of a NH decision.

A couple of items not NH-based, but of interest:

  • Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law late last week a bill to de-fund abortion providers in her state. The legislation she signed is similar to New Hampshire’s HB 228, which the Senate recently tabled over concerns that the bill might lead to litigation and loss of federal funds. Thank God there are legislators and governors willing to take on these threats. We should be standing with them. In Texas, a de-funding law was taken to court by Planned Parenthood affiliates, and a lower court granted PP an injunction in April which was promptly overturned by a higher court. That litigation will continue.
  • The Family Research Council, based in Washington, DC, will have a webcast on Wednesday called “Pregnancy Resource Centers: Celebrating Mother’s Day Every Day.” Details here.

Basic Book: Voices of Post-Abortive Women

Aborted Women: Silent No More by David C. Reardon. 1987: Crossway Books, ISBN 0891074511.  Reissued 2002: Elliot Institute, ISBN 0964895722

I have the older edition on my shelf. It was the first thing I ever read about post-abortive women, beyond a few brochures from an outfit called Women Exploited by Abortion. With WEBA’s cooperation, Reardon surveyed 252 women in 42 states about their abortion decisions and the aftermath. The survey results would have fit into a short magazine article. What makes the book so enlightening and necessary are the many stories recounted by and about the women who agreed to speak to Reardon.

Reardon surveyed 252 women in 42 states. That’s a fairly small sample, and to a degree it was a self-selected group, since the women were part of WEBA. The stories and the numbers are powerful nonetheless. All the women cited in the book were determined to be “silent no more”. Their stories had, and continue to have, urgency and importance.

One of Reardon’s statistics stands out even today: over two-thirds of the women surveyed felt rushed to make the abortion decision. It’s ironic that New Hampshire’s lawmakers are arguing now over whether a 24-hour waiting period is too great an imposition on a woman’s right to choose abortion.

This book is available on Amazon but might be hard to find in bookstores. Look on your church’s bookshelf. This one made a splash when it was first published, and a lot of faith communities with active pro-life ministries picked up the book.

Thumbs Up to Pregnancy Care Centers, I Hope

The NH Senate HHS committee held its hearing on HCR 31 today and approved it 4-1. This resolution commending the work of pregnancy care centers (PCCs) called forth the usual naysayers, but they were far outshone this afternoon by three outstanding advocates.

In case “pregnancy care center” is ambiguous – poor Sen. Kelly couldn’t quite come to terms with it – let me explain: it is a place where pregnant women in crisis can come for anything except abortion. Anyone can come through the door for information, counseling, and practical assistance, whether pregnant or not, whether male or female. CareNet is the most famous example of a pregnancy care center, with several CareNets operating in NH. Most services are free, and in NH, CareNet relies on private donations and an extensive volunteer network. Medical professionals assist with ultrasounds, and referrals to obstetric care are available.

Kathleen Molway of Concord CareNet and Katherine Anderson, RN, of the Pregnancy Resource Center of the Monadnock Region told the senators about the work they do and the women they serve. Jeanneane Maxon, AUL’s VP of External Affairs and a former general counsel to CareNet, offered information about PCC policies and support nationwide. By the time these three women were finished giving their calm and straightforward testimony, opponents of the resolution sounded pathetic. Terms like “anti-choice” and “deceptive” rang pretty hollow once Kathleen, Katherine, & Jeanneane had spoken.

HCR 31 had ten co-sponsors, led by Rep. Kathy Lauer-Rago (R-Franklin).  Full Senate action will come sometime later this month. In the meantime, I recommend writing a check to your local PCC, Birthright, or even Americans United for Life. You’ll be doing some good and you’ll be annoying all the right people.

NH Senate Calls Time-Out on HB 217

The NH Senate has put off its vote on the fetal homicide bill until next week. A senator speaking off the record before today’s session told me that Dartmouth-Hitchcock has raised concerns about how the bill might affect the practice of in vitro fertilization. The senators are taking some time to deal with this.

This snag came as a surprise to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kathy Souza (R-Manchester), who found out about it just before the Senate session today.

I have not spoken to anyone from Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and so I don’t claim to understand their objections. I have some ideas of my own, though.

Why on earth would in vitro fertilization figure be affected by a fetal homicide bill? I know that “selective reduction”, the abortion of “surplus” fetuses, is now considered part of pregnancy management following assisted reproduction such as IVF. That’s a ghastly practice, but it doesn’t figure into HB 217. The bill refers only to fetal deaths from wanted pregnancies. If a mother has signed an IVF agreement and the physician later performs one of these “selective reductions”, there would be no crime under a fetal-homicide bill because the mother would have OK’d the abortion.

Of course, if these selective abortions are being committed without a mother’s consent, that’s another story. I doubt, however, that any reproductive endocrinologist or obstetrician would proceed with IVF or a similar procedure without getting a woman’s signature on a consent form. And this might not be Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s concern anyway. We’ll see.

I’m looking forward to next week’s vote, and I’ll be keeping an eye on Friday’s Senate calendar to see if and how the bill is amended.

EMILY’s List backs Hassan

EMILY’s List has endorsed Maggie Hassan for NH Governor. Does anyone still think the life issues are irrelevant to November’s elections?

“EMILY” is an acronym for Early Money is Like Yeast. This PAC describes itself as “a national organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office.” I have no doubt that the pro-life counterpart, the Susan B. Anthony List (www.sba-list.org), will be watching New Hampshire intently.