Correction: Hearing Date for Abortion Insurance Mandate 2/18

I posted an incorrect date for the upcoming hearing on SB 486-FN, a bill to require insurance plans which cover maternity benefits to provide coverage for abortion services. The hearing is Tuesday, FEBRUARY 18, not March as I originally reported. I regret my error. I have corrected my earlier post on the bill, which includes location and time for the hearing.

As luck would have it, my mistake was in a high-traffic post. If you shared it (and thank you for reading, by the way), please share this correction as well.

Abortion Amendment Gets House Vote Feb. 19-20

CACR 14 is on the New Hampshire House calendar for the two-day session scheduled for February 19th and 20th. The vote could come either day. The House will vote on the committee recommendation of “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL) on the proposed constitutional amendment that would protect abortion under the New Hampshire Constitution.

I’ll be urging my state representatives to uphold the committee’s ITL recommendation, perhaps by saying “just drive a stake through the thing already.” Find out about your reps and how to contact them on the General Court website.

See coverage of the committee vote for more information about CACR 14.

From the committee recommendation of ITL, written by Rep. Paul Berch: “The majority was composed of members with two differing points of view. Some members felt that the matter of personal reproductive decisions should not be in the constitution and, if it were, certain limitations and prohibitions should be included in the language. Other members of the majority were sympathetic to the intention of the CACR, but found the provisions contradictory, confusing and subject to possible unintended consequences.”

Bill to Mandate Abortion Coverage Gets Hearing February 18

(An earlier version of this post carried a headline saying “March 18.” The correct date is February 18.) The latest abortion bill to come to the New Hampshire legislature in 2020 is the so-called “Women’s Reproductive Health Parity Act of 2020,” SB 486-FN. The bill will have a hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday, February 18, at 2:15 p.m. in room 100 of the State House.

From the bill’s official analysis on its cover page: “This bill requires insurance plans which cover maternity benefits to provide coverage for emergency or elective abortion services.”

Yes, parity between maternity and abortion, as though abortion were health care. Are you an employer whose benefits to employees include health insurance? You’ll help pay for abortions if this passes. It’ll be interesting to see which organizations and companies sign up in favor of this bill at the hearing.

Private and public plans are both included. Medicaid funds originating with the federal government are not supposed to go for abortion, so the bill includes this: “If the commissioner determines that enforcement of any policy described under paragraph I may adversely affect the allocation of federal funds to New Hampshire, the commissioner may grant an exemption to the requirements of this section only to the minimum extent necessary to ensure the continued receipt of federal funds.”

Don’t let that comfort you. You’ll recall what happened the last time the federal government made a rule that threatened to affect abortion providers, don’t you? Advocates for abortion providers simply appropriated state funds to cover what the feds wouldn’t.

The members of the Commerce committee are Sens. Kevin Cavanaugh, Jon Morgan, Donna Soucy, Harold French, and Chuck Morse.

Abortion Amendment gets thumbs down in committee

The House Judiciary Committee this morning voted 18-2 to send an “inexpedient to legislate” recommendation to the full House on CACR 14, the proposed abortion amendment to the New Hampshire constitution. The full House will vote on the measure later in February.

CACR 14 says, “The right to make personal reproductive medical decisions is inviolate and fundamental to the human condition. Neither the State nor any political subdivision shall infringe upon or unduly inconvenience this right.” As I wrote earlier before the committee hearing on the amendment, CACR 14 would bake abortion into the New Hampshire constitution.

Heard at the executive session

Before the Judiciary committee voted on the amendment, there was some public discussion among the members, as is typical of an executive session. Even some stalwart defenders of protecting abortion as a “reproductive right” had issues with CACR 14 as drafted.

Rep. Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland) said that the amendment as written was “contradictory, confusing, and could lead to unintended consequences.” Rep. Marjorie Smith (D-Durham), committee chair, called CACR 14 “not carefully drawn.”

Two members of the committee, Reps. Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham) and Debra Altschiller (D-Stratham), voted against the ITL motion. Horrigan called concerns over the amendment, including its effect on public funding, “vastly overblown.”

Several committee members with pro-life records commented as well. Rep. Jason Janvrin said, “This conflicts with at least four articles in our state constitution.” Rep. Gary Hopper (R-Weare) brought up the interesting point that the amendment doesn’t mention the gender of a person exercising “reproductive medical decisions.” Rep. Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford) noted “three to four hundred [email] responses from the public, 90% skewed to the No side.”

In praise of composing one’s own message

Rep. Smith spoke with some asperity about form emails sent to the committee, where an identical message shows up over and over again, each from a different email address.

Such messages are actually composed by an interest group. They don’t allow for personal messages. They annoy the living daylights out of Rep. Smith (and no doubt many of her colleagues). I can’t blame her.

Better to send one single line from yourself – even as simple as “please vote ITL on CACR 14; thank you!” – than let some group use your name on a form email that is more than likely to be deleted by the recipient.

Next step

CACR 14 will go to the full House at a date yet to be determined, but likely to be the third week in February. Concerned voters should contact their state representatives (not senators) and ask them to vote in favor of the committee recommendation on CACR 14, which is “inexpedient to legislate.” (I’ll put a call to action on the blog’s Facebook page as soon as I know the date of the vote.)

The roll call

The motion in committee was “inexpedient to legislate,” made by Rep. Berch, seconded by Rep. Janvrin.

Supporting the ITL motion, therefore in favor of killing CACR 14:

Reps. Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland), Anita Burroughs (D-Glen), Wendy Chase (D-Rollinsford), Charlotte DiLorenzo (D-Newmarket), Edward “Ned” Gordon (R-Bristol), Barbara Griffin (R-Goffstown), Gary Hopper R-Weare), Jason Janvrin (R-Seabrook), Sandra Keans (D-Rochester), Cam Kenney (D-Durham), Diane Langley (D-Manchester), Mark McLean (R-Manchester), Charles Melvin (R-Newton, sitting in for the absent Rep. Joe Alexander), Marjorie Smith (D-Durham), Deb Stevens (D-Nashua), Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), David Woodbury (D-New Boston), Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford).

Not supporting the ITL motion, therefore in favor of passing CACR 14: Reps. Debra Altschiller (D-Stratham) and Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham). Rep. Horrigan intends to file a minority report, ensuring a House floor debate on the amendment.

Call to action: hearing on two pro-life bills January 29

Last week, Representatives Hall in the New Hampshire State House was filled with pro-life testimony against an anti-life constitutional amendment. Just one week later, the same kind of showing is called for, this time for pro-life legislation.

On Wednesday, January 29, the House Judiciary Committee – same committee as last week – will hold public hearings on a bill to protect infants who are born alive after attempted abortion (HB 1675-FN) and a prenatal nondiscrimination act to prohibit abortion on the grounds of sex selection or genetic anomaly (HB 1678-FN). Time: 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively.

It’s time for another pro-life crowd in Representatives Hall. I suspect these bills will draw the abortion advocates who stayed away from last week’s hearing, although perhaps not all of them will object to the born-alive bill. In any case, showing up matters.

HB 1678, the prenatal nondiscrimination act, is a head-on attack on the attitude that it’s better to be dead than disabled or “unwanted.” If you or someone you love is living with a genetic anomaly including Down syndrome, sharing your story might help open a legislator’s mind and heart.

As for the born-alive bill, remember that the neck-snipping done by Kermit Gosnell in Pennsylvania could be done in New Hampshire with impunity. A New Hampshire born-alive act from about twenty years ago contained no penalties for abortion providers who fail to care for born-alive children.

There are two other life-issue bills on the Judiciary calendar for that morning, which I will not be attending or working on in view of the afternoon’s hearings. Those are a heartbeat bill (HB 1475-FN) and a bill to amend the parental notification statute regarding abortions for minors (HB 1640-FN, to remove the judicial bypass portion of the law).

Let’s see if we can get the legislators to support caring for born children via born-alive legislation. Let’s get them to turn thumbs-down to sex selection abortions. Let them publicly reject better-dead-than-disabled.

That’ll be a good day’s work.

The committee’s schedule for 1/29/2020.

Related: Guide to testifying in Concord