In 2016, the New Hampshire Senate considered and failed to pass bills that would have repealed the buffer zone law and established an abortion-statistics program at the state level.
The senators who managed to get those votes right and who are running for re-election deserve your consideration. These are bellwether bills: a legislator who opposes them is all but certain to be weak or hostile on the right to life.
I know there are other seats, other candidates, and fundamental pro-life policies. Today, my only concern is to list the legislators who supported stats and the First Amendment in the past term in Concord. The Senate had straight up-or-down votes on those two bills.
If you’re not sure who the candidates are in your area, you can check your Senate district number here, and then look at a sample ballot for your town to see the names of the candidates for each office.
These are the incumbents running for re-election who voted ( via bill #HB 1570) to repeal the buffer zone law, thus respecting your rights and mine to demonstrate peacefully on public property outside abortion facilities. The repeal effort failed on a tie vote.
Jeb Bradley (district 3), Andy Sanborn (district 9), Gary Daniels (district 11), Kevin Avard (district 12), Sharon Carson (district 14), John Reagan (district 17), Regina Birdsell (district 19), and Chuck Morse (district 22). Some House reps who supported the same bill are running for Senate now: James Gray (district 6), Harold French (district 7), Joe Duarte (district 16), and Bill Gannon (district 23).
Reps. French and Gannon are going up against incumbents who voted the opposite way: Sen. Andrew Hosmer vs. French and Rep. Alexis Simpson vs. Gannon.
Bradley is the only senator who supported passage of the buffer zone bill in 2014 and later changed his mind. I’m glad the First Amendment eventually appealed to his better nature.
Note that Kevin Avard is being challenged for his seat by former senator Peggy Gilmour, who voted for the buffer zone law in 2014. Voters gave the seat to Avard later that year. This year’s rematch is fierce and expensive, and it could go either way.
Another tie vote doomed an abortion statistics bill (HB 629). The same senators listed above for the buffer zone supported the stats bill: Bradley, Sanborn, Daniels, Avard, Carson, Reagan, Birdsell and Morse. The House passed the bill on a voice vote, so there’s no recorded vote for candidates Gray, French, Duarte and Gannon.
A sobering total
The bills I’ve cited here don’t even assert a right to life. The buffer zone law is about denying First Amendment protections to peaceful pro-life demonstrators, and the repeal bill was an effort to rectify that error. The statistics bill was about public health, particularly women’s health. Tie votes were the best the Senate could muster for them.
The eight incumbent senators and four House candidates for Senate I’ve mentioned cover twelve districts. That’s only half the seats in the Senate. If all these candidates win, things like a stats bill might still die on a tie. If any of these candidates lose, prospects for mischief increase dramatically.
Two other districts to watch
District 18’s Donna Soucy, chief sponsor of the buffer zone law, is being challenged by former Rep. Ross Terrio, chief sponsor of the partial-birth abortion ban that became law in 2012. In district 2, an open seat, former Rep. Bob Giuda is a candidate. He served in the House over a decade ago and had a good pro-life record, including helping to pass New Hampshire’s first parental notification law.
(Senate photo by Leon Rideout.)