Update: abortion stats bill retained

New Hampshire House Bill 471, abortion statistics, has been retained in committee and will not get a vote in the full House until 2018.  This is a step sideways, but it keeps the bill alive.

A subcommittee is likely to work on the bill between now and January. I’ll watch for those work session dates.

This is 2015 all over again, when the last statistics bill (HB 629) was retained. A subcommittee assigned to work on the bill had six work sessions between May and October 2015. They produced what I thought was an improved bill that enjoyed bipartisan support. The full House passed the resulting version of HB 629 on a voice vote in January 2016.

Then the state Department of Health and Human Services got a new commissioner, who yanked the Department’s participation in crafting the bill. Planned Parenthood, whose representative had attended the work sessions (I know because I attended them as well), refused to support the amended bill. That was enough to prompt a pair of Republican senators to join ten Democrats in voting against HB 629. That tied the vote at 12-12 in the Senate in May 2016, and the bill then died after being tabled. 

That was then; this is now. Under House rules for retained bills, HB 471 must come back for a House vote next year. Last time around, the House did its job: careful study with involvement from a variety of stakeholders, yielding a bipartisan bill so strong it passed without debate. I expect no less from them this time with HB 471. The Senate will then have a chance to redeem itself from 2016’s fiasco.

Bill status update

Update on bills I’ve been following:

Buffer zone repeal (HB 589) and a post-viability abortion ban (HB 578): The House Judiciary Committee will vote on these two bills Tuesday afternoon, February 14. The committee can recommend Ought to Pass (and I hope they do), or Inexpedient to Legislate. The committee recommendation will then go to the full House at a later date. You can send a brief Ought to Pass email – better yet, two emails, one for each bill – to the Judiciary Committee at HouseJudiciaryCommittee@leg.state.nh.gov.

I plan to attend the committee meeting on the 14th. Keep an eye on the Leaven for the Loaf Facebook page, where I’ll report on the votes as soon as they’re cast.

Fetal homicide: The House bill (HB 156, Griffin’s Law) had its public hearing in the Criminal Justice committee on February 7, and the committee has taken no public action since then. The Senate bill (SB 66) will get a vote in the full Senate Thursday, February 16.

Abortion statistics (HB 471), which had a public hearing February 7, is still awaiting action in the House Health Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee.

House hearings coming on abortion stats, fetal homicide

On Tuesday, February 7,  2017, New Hampshire House committees will take public testimony on two important bills.

11 a.m.: HB 471, abortion statistics collection. The hearing will be at the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee in room 205 of the Legislative Office Building on State Street behind the State House in Concord.

2:30 p.m.: HB 156, a fetal homicide bill. This differs from the Senate’s fetal homicide bill in that it could be used in cases of fetal death much earlier in pregnancy (8 weeks). This one will get a hearing in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, room 204 of the Legislative Office Building.

I refuse to cast aspersions on the Senators backing a different, viability-based fetal homicide bill. For now, suffice it to say that the House version is stronger.

This blog’s page on New Hampshire Fetal Homicide Bills collects pretty much everything I’ve posted on the subject since 2012. If you’re looking for background on such legislation in the Granite State, help yourself.

Incidentally, former Rep. Leon Rideout today forwarded to me a clip from an email he received from ACLU-NH, which is calling on its supporters to crowd the hearing room wearing buttons in opposition to HB 156.  I’ll be there, countering silently with my Griffin’s Law pin. Griffin was Rep. Rideout’s grandson.


As for abortion statistics, a post from last May will bring you up to date on the legislative environment that has kept stats from being collected in New Hampshire.

A look at upcoming bills

A legislative service request is the first step for a bill in New Hampshire. These LSRs will be taken by the legislative services staff at the State House and turned into the bills that will be formally introduced in January. The LSRs therefore give a clue to what’s ahead, although they don’t provide the actual text of a bill. More than 300 LSRs are already in the hopper for next session, with hundreds more likely to come.

Here are a few to keep an eye on. Intended sponsors are listed, and more may sign on before the bill-drafting process is through.

  • relative to induced termination of pregnancy statistics (LSR 2017-0057): Kathleen Souza , Daniel Itse, Jordan Ulery, Alfred Baldasaro, Steven Beaudoin, Glenn Cordelli, David Murotake, Linda Gould, Carl Seidel
  • including a viable fetus in the definition of “another” for purposes of certain criminal offenses (LSR 2017-0085; this will be fetal homicide): Jeanine Notter, Daniel Itse, Peter Hansen, Linda Gould
  • expanding the death penalty to cover persons who knowingly cause the death of a child (LSR 2017-0154): Werner Horn
  • repealing the death penalty (LSR-0210): Renny Cushing
  • relative to banning abortion after viability (LSR 2017-0184): Keith Murphy
  • buffer zone repeal (LSR-0316): Kurt Wuelper



Does a G.O.P. majority in Concord mean pro-life progress?

With the decision by state senator Andrew Hosmer to drop his recount bid, the New Hampshire Senate is set for the upcoming term with fourteen Republicans and ten Democrats. The GOP has the edge in the House, 225-175, pending a couple of recounts.

So what? To the extent that the numbers advance pro-life policy, hooray for the GOP. I’m holding my applause for now.

With a Republican House, Senate, and Governor, will New Hampshire have a fetal homicide law and an abortion statistics law by the end of the 2017-18 legislative session? Will the buffer zone law be repealed? Or is there no difference between the parties on these measures?

None of those types of legislation attack or undermine Roe v. Wade. None of them affect a woman’s ability to choose abortion. None of them affect funding of abortion providers. Neither fetal homicide nor stats collection is revolutionary: the New Hampshire Supreme Court suggested to legislators seven years ago that they review our homicide statutes as they pertain to the death of a fetus, and the federal Centers for Disease Control has collected abortion stats for public health purposes for many years. Repealing the buffer zone law would be a sensible response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s McCullen decision.

The time is ripe for buffer zone repeal, fetal homicide, and abortion statistics.

I know that if the recent election had gone the other way, such legislation would have no chance. I’d like to be optimistic now, but I’m more inclined to watchful waiting. I’ve seen Republican majorities before.