NH Ed Choice fundraiser, OH progress, court confusion, and ragamuffins: Pick of the web, 8/9/13

A few tidbits from other web sites this week:

The Network for Educational Opportunity is the New Hampshire group administering scholarship funds for families of students choosing alternatives to conventional public education. NEO is having a fundraiser on August 22 in Bedford, NH. Click here for more information. I’ve written about NEO before (here among other posts) and about the unsuccessful attempt to repeal a tax credit for businesses making donations to the scholarship fund.

From LifeSiteNews comes a report about an Ohio abortion facility that may have to close because it has no “transfer agreement” with an area hospital. Over 40 abortion facilities nationwide have been shuttered this year. Here in New Hampshire, there is no law requiring that abortion facilities have agreements to transfer to an area hospital any patient in distress. Proposals to require such a safeguard for women’s health are met at NH legislative hearings with assurances from abortion providers that they have all the necessary professional connections. The same abortion providers treat such bills as “restrictions” on women’s rights.

Liberty Council reports on a bizarre pair of rulings in the same case on the HHS Mandate this week from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Liberty University is challenging Obamacare’s mandate that employers pay to provide “services” to which they have religious objections. The Fourth Circuit granted a stay to Liberty on August 7, then in the evening of the same day reversed itself. Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice would say.

I supported Pat Robertson when he was on the NH Primary ballot in 1988. I have long since had cause to regret that. Mea maxima culpa. The Patheos blog reports on his recent outrageous statement that Appalachian Americans have “all these little ragamuffins” because the parents “don’t know about birth control.” Ragamuffin: “a ragged often disreputable person; especially : a poorly clothed often dirty child.” Score this one Idiocy 1, Sanctity of Life 0.

NH HHS official: “In New Hampshire, there is no such thing as an abortion clinic”

Sunday paper, front page, above the fold: good old-fashioned public-service reporting can’t get better placement than that. The May 19 New Hampshire Sunday News featured an article, credited to “staff report,” headlined “Officials say NH abortion sites need state scrutiny.”

Why aren’t the sites getting the scrutiny now? Because they are classified as physician offices. Here is a quote from the article, giving us the information straight from the New Hampshire department responsible for overseeing public health.

“Kris Neilsen, communications director for the state Department of Health and Human Services, explained in an email that abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood and the Concord Feminist Health Center are exempt from state licensing and inspection requirements because they are considered physician offices. Twenty-three health care providers such as hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, and dialysis centers are licensed by the state, but not abortion clinics. ‘In New Hampshire, there is no such thing as an abortion clinic – the majority of abortions are done in doctors offices … and doctors’ offices are exempt from licensure under RSA 151:2 II,’ Neilsen said.
Because they are exempt, we have no jurisdiction over them, and neither does anyone else.'”

Click on the link to the Sunday News article to read the responses from New Hampshire’s abortion providers, who have clearly not taken the Gosnell case to heart except as an opportunity to circle the wagons. Remarkably, the public policy director of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England gave the Sunday News nothing beyond the formal post-Gosnell statement issued by the national PP office. No improvisation allowed on this one, apparently.

Words like “exempt” and “no jurisdiction” should not apply to any facility where abortions are performed. How did New Hampshire policy get to this point?

  • Enough legislators and over the years bought the claim that abortion is “health care,” no different from cancer screenings or annual checkups.
  • Enough legislators have bought the claim that “choice” and “women’s health” are synonymous.
  • Abortion advocates in New Hampshire have done a good job of building coalitions fearful of losing Roe, ensuring that all attempts at regulating the industry are met with public opposition from medical and pastoral professionals as well as abortion-facility clients.
  • Arising from and reinforcing all these factors is New Hampshire’s refusal to demand full and accurate reporting of adverse abortion outcomes for women. Without accurate and objective statistical information, abortion providers can get away with saying that there is no evidence that New Hampshire women are at risk when they seek abortion.

None of these factors takes into consideration the medical and legal status of the fetus. One need not accept fetal personhood to see that abortion providers in New Hampshire have an unjustifiably privileged status under law. Why should such providers escape the regulations that govern dialysis or medical labs or end-of-life care? It makes no sense from the point of women’s health. Put an abstract “right” to abortion ahead of concern for actual women, though, and the current situation makes a weird sort of sense.

References to physicians’ or doctors’ offices are ironic in this context. There is no restriction in New Hampshire on who may perform abortions, with or without medical training. The “reputable” abortion providers who employ physicians and nurse-practitioners are silent on whether they would support legislation to change that.

It depends on which has the higher priority: women’s health, or unrestricted access to abortion.

One also wonders where the HHS representative quoted by the Sunday News got the information that most abortions in New Hampshire are performed in doctors’ offices. That would indicate that someone is keeping track. In fact, no one is.

And finally, that’s news.

 

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.