Don’t Get Mad. Get Busy.

Yes, New York just passed an outrageous abortion law. But remember, New Hampshire got there first: no limitations on abortion, and no protection for children born alive after attempted abortion. We even out-do New York in one way: New Hampshire doesn’t collect any abortion statistics. And therein lies the best way for a Granite Stater to react to the news from New York.

Demand an abortion statistics law. There’s a hearing for one on Thursday, January 24, 2019 – mere hours away, as I publish this – at 11 a.m. in room 205 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord. The bill is HB 158-FN.

My social media feeds are full of upset New Hampshire neighbors, all of them sick at heart over the New York news. Here’s our challenge: get just as upset about New Hampshire’s situation, and then do something about it, starting with the abortion statistics hearing.

If every single one of my distressed friends were to contact the committee members who will consider the statistics bill, they’d make an impression. You can send a message to all twenty-two members of the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs committee by sending one email to one address: HHSEA@leg.state.nh.us. Simple message: Please vote ought to pass on HB 158-FN, the abortion statistics bill.

If even half of my upset friends took a day off work to attend the hearing and sign the “blue sheet” supporting the bill, they’d make an impression. They’d pack the whole committee room, in fact, and overflow into the hallway all the way down to the elevators. I know it’s hard to take a day off work. I also know it hurts to go to a hearing and see how many abortion advocates make that kind of sacrifice without batting an eyelash.

It’s easy for me to rail about New York politicians. It’s easy to go online and warn that Governor Cuomo’s soul is in peril (not a message from me, but I’ve seen it more than once in my media feed). It’s easy to share photos of New York buildings lit up in pink to “celebrate” the passage of the new abortion law.

How about we take that energy and anger and indignation and grief and put it where it will do some good?

The abortion statistics bill would authorize New Hampshire public health authorities to do what 47 other states already do: collect abortion information in a way that protects patient privacy, and report the numbers to the federal Centers for Disease Control. How many abortions, maternal age, gestational age, incidence of post-abortion complications: New Hampshire public health authorities only know what abortion providers tell them. There’s no reporting law. HB 158-FN would change that.

I am aware that passage is unlikely, given the current makeup of the New Hampshire legislature. This is a modest little test case, though: will we bring the same intensity to this bill that we’re bringing to the online fuss over New York’s lamentable law? Will we write those emails, call those reps, come to the hearing, and eventually show up for the House vote? Will we use social media as intensively to promote HB 158-FN as we use it to criticize New York?

We can try.

How NH’s Secretary of State Could Affect Abortion Statistics

Former Executive Councilor Colin “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” Van Ostern is campaigning to replace New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner. The vote will be taken on December 5 by the newly-elected House and Senate in Concord. The result will have implications for an important pro-life policy goal.

[Update, 12/6/18: Secretary of State Gardner narrowly won re-election over Mr. Van Ostern.]

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From June 2016: then-Executive Councilors Chris Sununu and Colin Van Ostern before voting Yes on contracts with abortion providers.

New Hampshire is one of very few states that does not report abortion statistics to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a public health measure. If – excuse me, when – New Hampshire finally puts women’s health ahead of lesser concerns, two state departments will be involved in any statistics program: the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which oversees public health issues, and the Department of State, which oversees the Division of Vital Records.

That’s why it matters who holds the position of New Hampshire Secretary of State. The administrative framework for carrying out any statistics-collection program will be handled by the team in the vital records office. If that office answers to a pro-abortion Secretary of State, I don’t believe cooperation with an abortion statistics law will be forthcoming.

In past discussions to which I’ve been a party regarding proposed abortion-statistics legislation, a representative of the vital records office has been present. At every point, that representative has been scrupulously neutral on abortion, assuring policymakers that the division can find and implement any necessary software and procedures to collect abortion statistics in a manner that respects the privacy of all individuals.

Whenever a legislative policy committee has had a hearing on abortion and has requested input from the vital records office, that has been the essence of the office’s message: you tell us what you want collected – and since this is information other states are already collecting and reporting to the CDC, we’re not talking rocket science here – and we’ll get the job done.

That’s been the policy under Bill Gardner. Mr. Gardner is a Democrat, but at no point in his tenure as Secretary of State has that made a difference to him. He has carried out every aspect of his job in a nonpartisan manner. Andrew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy summed it up:

…Gardner gave his loyalty to the office, never to a party or person. Being his friend, as many legislators have been, was no help if your race was close. Being a member of his political party was no help, either. And everyone knew it.

Gardner always understood that the survival of a democratic republic requires trust in its institutions. If the state’s top election official showed even hints of favoritism, trust in the system would erode. And that would undermine our whole experiment in republican government.

Newly-elected Democrats in the New Hampshire House held a straw poll not long ago. Van Ostern won in a landslide. Since then, many New Hampshire officials – including Democrats former Gov. John Lynch and current Sen. Lou D’Allesandro – have spoken up about why they support Gardner for Secretary of State. Will their endorsements make a difference? We’ll find out on December 5.

That’s when the New Hampshire House and Senate will meet in joint session. First order of business will be swearing in the victors of November’s election. Democrats will be in the majority. Then comes the vote for Secretary of State.

The result is going to matter.

Tracking N.H. General Court’s 2018 Votes and Preparing for Next Election

As April draws to a close, most of 2018’s life-issue bills in Concord have been settled one way or another. Below, you’ll find links to the votes so you can see how each of your state representatives voted.

vote checkmarkAccountability isn’t the only reason to keep an eye on voting records. The filing period for next fall’s state elections runs from June 6 to June 15. That’s only a few weeks away. Have you ever thought of running for office, or encouraging a friend to do so? Has one of your state representatives decided not to run again? Does someone need a challenge who didn’t get one in 2016? Continue reading “Tracking N.H. General Court’s 2018 Votes and Preparing for Next Election”

Down for the Count: Life-Issue Bills in N.H. House

The twice-delayed vote on a bill to prevent abortion of viable pre-born children finally came on March 21. HB 1680 was tabled in the New Hampshire House on a 170-163 vote. A committee’s recommendation of “ought to pass” on HB 1680 was never debated. The roll call for the tabling motion is thus what we have to go by, to figure out where state representatives stood on the bill.

A vote in favor of the tabling motion was effectively a vote to kill HB 1680. Tabling meant no debate, aside from the speeches masquerading as “parliamentary inquiries.” An attempt to remove the bill from the table and open it up for debate failed later in the day.

You can look up your reps and how they voted on HB 1680. Keep in mind that a “Yea” vote was a vote in favor of the tabling motion, not a vote in favor of the bill.

On the same day, the Abortion Information Act (HB 1707) was voted to Interim Study.  Translation: it’s dead. Voice vote, no roll call. The bill on coerced abortion (HB 1721) was killed on an Inexpedient to Legislate motion, 237-100.

Three bills, three different motions, same results. Put these on the spike along with conscience protection (Inexpedient to Legislate, 218-109 on March 15) and abortion statistics (ITL, 200-154 on January 3).

This is all spreadsheet material, and I’ll compile it before the filing period in June. That’s when people who want to run for state representative later this year will pay their two bucks to the town clerk to make it official.

Notes on the HB 1680 vote

Opposing the tabling motion were 158 Republicans, joined by two Libertarians (Caleb Dyer and Brandon Phinney) and three Democrats (Roger Berube, Jesse Martineau, and Barbara Shaw).

Joining 148 Democrats in voting to table the bill were one Libertarian (Joseph Stallcop) and 21 Republicans: Francis Chase, Chris Christensen, Karel Crawford, Stephen Darrow, Carolyn Gargasz, John Graham, James Grenier, Bonnie Ham, Peter Hansen, Erin Hennessey, Phyllis Katsakiores, John Lewicke, Betsy McKinney, Russell Ober, Mark Proulx, Andrew Prout, Skip Rollins, Frank Sapareto, Franklin Sterling, Robert Theberge, and Brenda Willis.

Speaker Gene Chandler was present during the day but was absent for the HB 1680 vote, turning the gavel over to Deputy Speaker Sherman Packard.

Absences: there were 38 “excused” absences, according to the House roll call, and 20 “Not Voting.”  The latter indicates an unexcused absence. It could mean a rep simply took a walk rather than go on record. Those 58 missing reps loom large in the context of a 170-163 vote.

Abortion Statistics: “Inexpedient to Legislate,” Says N.H. House

The New Hampshire House today rejected HB 471, on abortion statistics. The bill would have put New Hampshire in line with the Centers for Disease Control, which has collected statistics for abortion surveillance for many years.

The vote on an “inexpedient to legislate” motion was 200-154.

Two hundred legislators voted like people who are afraid of evidence-based public health policy and afraid of political retribution from abortion providers.

How many children are terminated annually? It doesn’t matter, was the unspoken message in Representatives Hall. How many adolescents are aborting their pregnancies? We don’t care. How many late-term abortions? How many repeat abortions? Where are most abortions being done? We don’t want to know. 

The bill had stringent provisions to protect the anonymity of patients. Data would have been provided to the CDC in aggregated form. That wasn’t enough for the fearful reps.

Already, in the name of compromise and cooperation, the bill had protected provider anonymity. It thus would have prevented the state from identifying abortion providers with a pattern of leaving patients injured or worse.  Even that was not enough to win over abortion apologists.

Somewhere, Kermit Gosnell is nodding his approval.

Time to update the graphic I made a few years ago. I’m running out of room.

List of N.H. abortion statistics bills since 2002.
New Hampshire abortion statistics bills: a short history.

The roll call is available at this link from the N.H. General Court web site.

Of the 154 representatives who voted against killing the bill, two are Democrats: Barbara Shaw of Manchester and James MacKay of Concord.

Of the 200 who voted kill the bill, 41 are Republicans. One of them, James McConnell of Swanzey, gave a speech before the vote encouraging his colleagues to kill the bill.

Still think the New Hampshire GOP is a pro-life party?

Credit where it’s due: Reps. Jess Edwards (R-Auburn) and Kathleen Souza (R-Manchester) spoke in support of the bill before the vote, stressing its importance to public health and women’s health. Rep. Larry Gagne (R-Manchester) made sure the ITL motion got a roll call vote.

The ITL motion was preceded by a motion of “ought to pass as amended,” which failed 165-189. Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack) gets the credit for asking for a roll call on that one.

Contact information for state representatives

Watch for an email newsletter with a breakdown of the vote by representatives’ names and counties.