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.

Week In Review: NH Senate Bats .400

I understand the importance of gratitude as much as the next person. As a lobbyist, I forget it at my peril. So thank you, senators. And now permit me to quibble.

The New Hampshire Senate passed two bills that are years overdue: a ban on partial-birth abortions (HB 1679) and a bill to examine the possibility of collecting abortion statistics (HB 1680). Great news, momentous victories – and you probably have to have been around Concord as long as I have to appreciate just how momentous. Persistence pays off. Three other bills with pro-life implications met worse fates: killed, tabled, interim study. 

When I’m up in the gallery cheering for five bills and two of them pass, it’s a good day, even though one newspaper headline said pro-lifers were “crushed.” Crushed? Not so much. I will, however, admit that my happiness was alloyed with a strong dose of the annoyance only an ex-Republican can understand.

The five Democratic senators were solidly opposed to four of these bills. (The stats bill passed on a voice vote.) The Republicans, as usual with pro-life bills, were all over the place. The one bill that earned unanimous Republican support was the partial-birth ban. When the day’s session was over, the minority leader, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, made a short speech on the Senate floor, paying tribute to majority leader Sen. Jeb Bradley for the way Bradley had handled the difficult votes (meaning the pro-life bills). D’Allesandro is a gentleman, and I have no doubt he was speaking from the heart.

But wait a minute here. Why was it such a big deal that a Republican majority leader got all of his caucus to support a bill to ban an abortion method that shades into infanticide? What is so controversial about that? Who had to be persuaded? (And why does the Democratic party defend partial-birth abortion?)

We can actually make fair guesses of who had to be persuaded by looking at bills that fell short. HB 228, to keep state money away from abortion providers, was tabled 17-6 (Sen. DeBlois was absent); HB 1660, to stop abortions after 20 weeks, went sent to interim study 15-8; HB 1659, Women’s Right to Know/informed consent/24-hour wait before abortion was ITL’d (killed) 12-11.


Exactly FIVE senators supported all these bills: Jim Forsythe, Fenton Groen,  Ray White,  Gary Lambert, and Jack Barnes, It pains me to know that Forsythe & White have decided not to run for re-election.

On the other hand, six GOP senators voted against everything except the partial-birth ban: John Gallus, Jeb Bradley (yes, the majority leader), Bob Odell, Dave Boutin, Jim Rausch, and Nancy Stiles. Call them the hard-line six. Gallus has announced his retirement. The others are likely to seek reelection.

That leaves seven GOP senators whose votes were scattered.

  • There’s no doubt that HB 228 was tabled in response to the threat of a loss of Medicaid funds to the state if the bill should pass. I hate seeing that kind of timidity in any elected official, and I’m pleased that Sens. Forsythe, Groen, Andy Sanborn, White, Gary Lambert, & Jack Barnes voted against being bullied.
  • The rejection of the informed consent bill should raise the ire of every pro-life voter who has ever written a check to the GOP. Andy Sanborn told me that he had a hard time with this one, but he concluded that the 24-hour wait was too great an intrusion by government into a woman’s rights. He joined the “hard-line six” and the Democrats to make the twelfth and deciding vote. The 11 senators who got this one right: Jeanie Forrester, Forsythe, Groen, White, Peter Bragdon, Jim Luther, Lambert, Sharon Carson, Barnes, Chuck Morse, Russell Prescott.
  • A senator told me privately a week before the session that the post-20-week ban would probably not pass. “It’s that or partial-birth. We can’t get both.” Eight GOP senators did the right thing by opposing the motion to send the bill to interim study: Forsythe, Groen, White, Bragdon, Luther, Lambert, Barnes, Morse.  

This confirms what I already knew about writing checks to the GOP. Don’t do it, since the money will go to the likes of the hard-line six. Individual candidates would be happy to hear from pro-life donors.

Postscript: Shortly after the Senate rejected HB 1659, the House attached it as an amendment to one of the bills it is considering. I won’t venture a guess as to HB 1659’s final outcome. There’s a bit of a struggle going on between House & Senate that goes way beyond the pro-life bills. I only hope that the partial-birth bill, which must go to the House for agreement with an amendment, won’t fall victim to the tension.

Bullying Works: PP Scores Komen $

A chapter of the breast-cancer-fighting Susan G. Komen foundation has given a grant to a Planned Parenthood  affiliate in Austin TX. The amount is reportedly $45,000.

By the way, Texas PP affiliates are suing over a state de-funding law. That means that even if this affiliate doesn’t do abortions, it has the money for litigation. Komen is therefore effectively paying $45k for health care so PP doesn’t have to.

You’ll recall that PP & its supporters were quick to ramp up an attack campaign when Komen decided earlier this year to curtail its grants to PP.¬† A few days of pressure from PP did the trick, and now the pipeline’s back open. Apparently, once an agency makes a grant or contract to Planned Parenthood, stopping is not an acceptable option. I know three NH Executive Councilors who found that out the hard way.

Of course, while Komen folded within days, the Councilors did not yield to the bullies. (PPNNE had to do an end run around the state Title X contract process by going to Sen. Shaheen, who persuaded the Obama administration to send money.) Komen could learn something here.