Fresh off a victory by its preferred candidate in the Manchester mayoral election, EMILY’s List has announced that it is throwing its endorsement and cash into the New Hampshire governor’s race in support of Molly Kelly.
Kelly is a Democrat and a former state senator from Keene (district 10). I was in the Senate gallery on several occasions as she spoke against fetal homicide legislation and in favor of the buffer zone law.
Her formal statement in response to the EMILY’s List endorsement, as reported by WMUR’s John DiStaso, includes the candid if clichéd declaration “I trust women to make their own health care decisions,” thereby smoothly assuming that abortion is health care – an assertion that the Republican incumbent has shown no inclination to dispute. Kelly adds, “As governor, I will defend funding for Planned Parenthood.” Well, so does the Republican incumbent governor, even though he strayed off the PP script once as Executive Councilor. That incumbent has already indicated that he’s running for re-election.
Kelly entered the Senate after winning a 2006 election over former Senate president Tom Eaton, who lost to her again in 2008 and 2010. In 2012, she won re-election by a 2-1 margin over her Republican challenger. In 2014, Republicans didn’t bother to put up a candidate against her. She retired after that term, and the district 10 state senate seat is now held by Democrat Jay Kahn.
Not to put any spoilers in here, but SB 66 – the fetal homicide bill – was the most closely-watched bill of the year in Concord, as far as Leaven for the Loaf’s readers were concerned. You’ll see more about this further along in the list.
There was a Women’s March in Washington in January (how quickly we forget!), and pro-life women were told to stay home and behave themselves. Well, no, we weren’t told to behave – just to stay away. Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa of New Wave Feminists refused to take that particular order.
The 2016 federal election left readers ready to stay in touch with New Hampshire’s solidly pro-abortion federal delegation. Don’t let up! Maybe it’s time to invite them to the March for Life in Concord or Washington (or Concord AND Washington) so they can broaden their horizons a bit.
This one left all of 2017’s other posts in the dust. I wasn’t the only one to rejoice in the signing of a fetal homicide law, almost two decades after the first such bill was introduced in Concord. Sarah and Griffin’s Law was named for two children whose families simply would not quit working for the law.
Governor Chris Sununu followed through on his commitment to sign fetal homicide legislation if it came to his desk. He had plenty of company as he did the deed.
I went to the State House for the signing ceremony, unsure if I could get in. I had been told it would be a quiet event in the Governor’s office. Didn’t work out that way. Griffin Kenison’s extended family was there, several generations deep. The Crucitti family was there. The elected officials who doggedly persisted in seeing the bill through were there. The festivities were moved to the Executive Council chamber to accommodate the crowd.
I told Griffin’s great-aunt that day that I had just about given up on ever seeing a fetal homicide law in New Hampshire. I’ll never forget the look she gave me as she said, “Shame on you.” She was right. Her family’s hope and persistence will inspire me for a long time to come.
Sarah and Griffin’s Law has been signed. I was determined to see this happen, in person. I wouldn’t believe it otherwise.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed SB 66 on June 30, and now the fetal homicide measure will be known as Sarah and Griffin’s Law. It will go into effect January 1, 2018.
At that time, prosecutors will have the option of bringing a homicide charge against a person whose violent actions cause the death of a preborn child at or after 20 weeks’ gestation, against the will of the mother.
Fetal homicide was one of the first topics I tackled on this blog. I haven’t shut up about it, actually. The state Supreme Court’s 2009 plea in the Lamy case has never been far from my mind. Overturning a drunk driver’s homicide conviction for killing a child who died from injuries sustained in utero by the drunk driver’s actions, the Court told the legislature it would have to update state law in order for such a charge to stick.
Finally, the legislature and a governor have answered the Supreme Court with something other than “meh.”
The families of Griffin Kenison and Sarah Crucitti were at the Governor’s side as he signed the law. Their extended families, children included, filled the Executive Council chamber. Some held photos of Griffin and Sarah.
Sarah’s mother Deana Crucitti and Griffin’s mother Ashlyn Rideout embraced before the ceremony. I started to take a photo of them and then backed off. In the middle of that crowded room, it was an unmistakably private moment.
Three generations of Griffin’s family were there, including “Grammy Shirley,” who told me with deep emotion three years ago “we’re on a crusade.”
It was a year ago yesterday that then-Executive Councilor Sununu switched his vote and voted “Yea” on a state contract with abortion providers – a contract that the Council had rejected with his help a few months earlier.
It’s been seven months since a concerned pro-life Republican challenged the self-identified “pro-choice” gubernatorial candidate Sununu, asking him what pro-life initiatives he could support. The candidate responded by writing that he could support five in particular. (Text of the letter is at the bottom of this link.)
Fetal homicide was #1 on the list.
I give him credit for keeping his word.
I give credit to Leon Rideout, Sen. Regina Birdsell, Rep. Kathy Souza (who has worked for a fetal homicide bill for more than 20 years), and all the legislators who co-sponsored fetal homicide bills over the years.
I give credit to Ovide Lamontagne, who last year elicited Chris Sununu’s written support for fetal homicide legislation.
I give credit to retired Supreme Court Justice James Duggan, author of the Lamy decision, who placed the ball squarely in the legislature’s court eight years ago.
I give most of the credit to the families who lost their children and who came to Concord again and again to tell their stories.
When former Rep. Leon Rideout, Griffin’s grandfather, introduced a fetal homicide bill in 2014, I covered the hearings. There I met family members including Griffin’s aunt Robin. We spoke today after the signing.
“I didn’t think I’d live to see this day,” I told her. I wasn’t kidding.
She gave me a no-nonsense look. “Shame on you.” She wasn’t kidding, either.
Update to recent post: In the final legislative session of 2017, the New Hampshire House and Senate accepted an amendment to SB 66 to correct a drafting error. The bill still has the 20-week provision that drew the ire this month of some pro-life activists.
Barring yet another unexpected detour, the next stop for the fetal homicide bill should be Governor Sununu’s desk. Given his expression of support for such legislation, signing this one ought to be easy. I’ll certainly encourage him to do so. His office phone number is 603-271-2121.
Women’s Health Protection Act: However that may be defined – whether informed consent, or making abortion facilities meet the same standards as ambulatory care facilities, or letting a woman know in advance the name and qualifications of the person about to perform her abortion – no such legislation came forward in the 2017 New Hampshire legislative session.
Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act: No legislation offered.
Late-Term Abortion Ban: Failed. A motion of “ought to pass with amendment” on HB 578 failed in the House on a 170-189 vote. The bill was then tabled on a voice vote. A few representatives indicated that they voted ITL because the bill didn’t go far enough. That was not the prevailing view.
Buffer Zone Repeal: Failed.HB 579 was voted “inexpedient to legislate” on a 191-165 House vote, the First Amendment notwithstanding. Note, however, that no abortion facility has yet posted a zone. No thanks to the legislature for that.
From candidate-now-Governor Sununu’s letter: “I know that my winning the race for Governor will be our best chance to get this important work done.”
By the way, there are Republican majorities in the New Hampshire House and Senate this year. Do not confuse “Republican” with “pro-life.”
The Governor’s term still has a year and a half to run. He may get something relevant on his desk next year from House and Senate. It remains to be seen if he’ll sit back and wait, or if he’ll work to build support for the measures he said he’d sign.