To Win a Case, You Have to Argue It First

Predictably, some Republicans declared before 11 p.m. on election night 2012 that the party simply must lay off those nasty divisive social issues. For thirty years, after every serious Republican setback, I’ve heard the same thing. What the complainers refuse to see is that the major GOP candidates DID lay off those issues this year. The Democrats didn’t.

I emerged yesterday from four months’ employment with the New Hampshire Republican State Committee. They took a chance on me, an “undeclared” Republican-leaning voter, and put me to work.  I knew this was not a year to be on the sidelines. I accepted the fact that the message from both the presidential and gubernatorial Republican campaigns was going to be resolutely economic. At no point in my employment was there any confusion about that. The “social issues,” however compelling, were to be downplayed. In New Hampshire, the results are before us. Four days ago, New Hampshire voters chose Democrat Maggie Hassan to be the next governor, spurning Ovide Lamontagne. Democrats now hold a majority in the New Hampshire House. A recount is pending that will likely result in a Senate split right down the middle. [Note: the final tally is a 13-11 GOP majority.] Nationally, the president responsible for the HHS mandate has been re-elected.

Ironically, a Democratic gubernatorial nominee who opposes any regulation of abortion managed to persuade voters that the pro-life Republican nominee was too “extreme,” while the Republican declined to address that as he kept concentrating on jobs and the economy.

There’s a case to be made that Hassan is the one who is dangerously extreme: opposed to parental involvement in an adolescent girl’s decision to abort; in favor of unrestricted abortion at any stage of pregnancy; opposed to gathering morbidity and mortality information on post-abortive women. There’s also a case to be made, locally as well as nationally, for keeping contraception a private choice without compelling other people to pay for it. Extremism reposes in the Obamacare policy that calls contraception “preventive care.”

But first, a candidate has to want to make the case, and then learn to do so effectively to persuade uncommitted voters, just as pro-life voters need to make the case neighbor-to-neighbor. Dismissing these matters as irrelevant “distractions” leads to results like Tuesday’s. We apparently have to learn this anew every few years.

Someone remarked to me the other day that Hassan won because she came across during the campaign as another John Lynch: inoffensive, likable, unthreatening. Let’s see how likable she is when the new Democratic majority in Concord tries to repeal parental notification, which I believe they will do as early as possible next year. The Republicans have yet to choose a minority leader (Speaker O’Brien, while re-elected to his House seat, doesn’t want the job), who will decide if and how a repeal effort should be handled. Not as a distraction, I trust.

Putting Blog on Hiatus

After the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the president’s “Affordable” Care Act, it’s clear to me that  there is special urgency to effective political action over the next few months. I thank God I live in a country and a culture where peaceful activism can still make a difference. I am taking a few months off from Leaven for the Loaf and from my work in Concord so I can devote full time to campaign work leading up to November’s elections.

Pro-life ministry is essential in all spheres at all times, as I’ve learned over and over again. God bless all of those whose work is much more direct and effective than mine. Keep it up. I ask that you keep me in your prayers as I embark on this particular enterprise. I am leaving some marvelous co-workers as I look ahead to joining a new team.

Much is at stake in the political arena this year, and not just in Washington. If you meet solid candidates in your local races, help them in any way you can. Most New Hampshire elections are run on a shoestring, and a little bit of assistance will go a long way. We saw this year in Concord what a difference a few votes can make.

An idle thought comes to me: who do I want to see in the White House when we March for Life in Washington next January, on the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade? Not a tough call.

I will miss writing, and I’ll be blogging again after Election Day, or sooner if my new team throws me out. I’ll keep up the wholly apolitical Granite State Walker blog, although I doubt I’ll have much time for any hikes about which to post. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to re-connecting with you in a few months.

The Rest of the Veto Day 2012: Partial-Birth Ban is Law, Fetal Homicide Falls Just Short

The House’s override of the HB 1679 veto (partial-birth) augured well for the day. The Senate followed suit a little later, on an 18-5 straight-party-line vote. The bill is due to go into effect next January 1, although I have a sneaking suspicion that someone will try to enjoin it.

This is an enormous victory. I’ve spent enough time in the trenches to know one when I see one.

Fetal homicide, HB 217, fell short on a vote of 201-126. A majority in the House, to be sure, but not quite the two-thirds needed to send it to the Senate. Reps. Kathleen Souza (R-Manchester) and Warren Groen (R-Rochester) argued for the bill today on the House floor. Governor Lynch got spanked today, with several of his vetoes being overturned, so he may be particularly gratified that he managed to make this one stick.

Dominick Emmons and his mother got no justice today. I told their story in an earlier post.

The death of Dominick Emmons led to the Lamy case in which the state supreme court called on the legislature to clean up the state laws regarding the death of a fetus. Most of the legislators were willing to do that, despite Governor Lynch’s veto. The override vote was complicated when RESOLVE, a national support group for families dealing with infertility, teamed up with NARAL to hand out anti-HB217 flyers to legislators this morning.

Huh?

You read that right. After the bill had its Senate hearing but before the original Senate vote, abortion advocates went to work looking for allies. The usual suspects – PPNNE, NARAL – found a threat to Roe v. Wade where none existed, and they managed to whip up fear that a fetal homicide law would stop in vitro fertilization and other forms of assisted reproduction. That WOULD NOT HAPPEN under HB 217, for the simple reason that the bill includes language exempting from prosecution anyone acting with a woman’s consent – even a lab tech discarding surplus embryos (children)  from IVF.

I wonder if some of the pro-life women struggling with infertility know that RESOLVE has made common cause with abortion advocates to fight fetal homicide laws. Next time, sponsors will need to keep that in mind as they build the coalition that will get this legislation over the top next time it’s introduced.

Raise your glass and toast the reps who refused to fall for the fear factor – especially Kathy Souza, who has been promoting fetal homicide legislation for a couple of decades now, since long before she was a state rep. Manchester ward 4 can be proud of her.

Veto of NH Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Overridden in House, 240-118; Senate action coming up

Spread the word far & wide: the New Hampshire House today overrode Governor John Lynch’s veto of HB 1679, a measure to ban the partial-birth abortion method. This is a milestone. The vote was 240-118; the roll call will be available via gencourt.state.nh.us later today. The Senate will take up the veto later today. (Coverage here.)

Rep. Candace Bouchard (D-Concord), speaking against the bill and in favor of sustaining the veto, called the bill “life-sustaining treatment.” She claimed that the bill’s two-physician evaluation in emergency situations posed a threat to a woman’s life. Rep. Daniel Tamburello (R-Londonderry) asked Rep. Bouchard if partial-birth is the only method available in emergencies; Bouchard replied that “I can only tell you that this bill is flawed” and “late-term abortion is already highly regulated by the federal government.”  Rep. Janet Wall (D-Durham) also spoke against the bill.

Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R-Salem), supporting the override, called the term partial-birth “appropriately descriptive” of the “inhumane procedure.” Addressing the concerns over emergency situations, Garcia pointed out that medical experts have declared that this particular abortion method is “never a medical necessity”, with other abortion methods available. She also noted that since New Hampshire does not require compilation of abortion statistics, there is no way to determine if any women undergo partial-birth procedures or if such women experience post-abortive complications. Garcia was followed by Rep. Peter Silva (R-Nashua) in an appeal to sustain the override.

More about this later today – but let the celebration of LIFE begin.

To Undecided Reps, Rx for Fear: Read the Bills

As I checked my Twitter feed recently, the oft-quoted axiom came to mind about a lie getting halfway around the world before truth gets its pants on. An overwrought writer responded to a tweet I wrote for Cornerstone, in which I urged the New Hampshire legislature to override Governor Lynch’s vetoes of the partial-birth and fetal-homicide bills, by tweeting “Who cares if women die! Protect the fetus, so you can ignore it once it’s born.#christiantaliban”

I am not enough at home in the Twitterverse to wage effective rhetorical war 140 characters at a time. Yet I cannot back off completely. My Twitter scold, whoever she or he is, is not conveying the truth. Neither did the governor in his veto messages. Representatives and senators can choose to make their decisions based on fact instead of fear when they consider overriding the vetoes on the 27th. Read the bills.

A recent veto message by Governor Lynch on a school choice bill contained an erroneous claim. Charlie Arlinghaus of the Josiah Bartlett Center called out the governor for his “factually incorrect veto.” Arlinghaus concluded with the stinging admonition, “Read it before you veto it.”  In a second school-choice veto three days later, the governor based his objections on what was actually in the second bill. I only wish there had been two fetal homicide bills so the governor would have had a chance to correct himself again.

In vetoing the fetal homicide bill, Governor Lynch falsely claimed that “this legislation … would allow the State of New Hampshire to prosecute a pregnant woman”.  The governor missed the plain language of  HB 217: “nothing in [this bill] shall apply to any act committed by the woman pregnant with the fetus”. In fact, HB 217 would not apply to any pregnancy termination caused by any person acting with the consent of the mother.

And then there’s the partial-birth abortion ban. “Who cares if women die?” Everyone cares, except those who unfortunately don’t want to hear about abortion-related maternal deaths. Remember, self-proclaimed reproductive choice advocates  fought this year to block a separate bill requiring the state to collect abortion statistics, so we all could get some authoritative information about how many women and girls suffer post-abortion complications. (That bill, HB 1680, was passed after being amended to authorize study of the idea.)

The governor wrote in his veto message that the HB 1679’s two-physician requirement for emergency situations could cause a delay that might harm a pregnant woman. No. Even if HB1679 passes, any one physician would continue to be able to terminate a woman’s pregnancy, at any point in the pregnancy, by any method he or she finds appropriate except partial-birth, in which the fetus is partially extracted from the woman’s body before being “terminated.”

Back to Twitter: “Protect the fetus, so you can ignore it once it’s born.” How does HB 1679 protect a fetus? The bill’s opponents are afraid there’s some anti-Roe monster in the closet. Not in this one, there isn’t. A woman’s right to choose abortion is unaffected.  Claims to the contrary are false. Read the bill.

As for “#christiantaliban”, no one concerned with truth could have written that. It’s catchy, though, and is probably halfway around the world as I write, along with the false claims that these bills will harm women.

The truth is still putting its pants on, so to speak. It’s right there, though, in the bills. The fears expressed by the governor and the hapless tweeter are groundless. The facts won’t change between now and the 27th.