More on State Budget and Abortion Funding: Keep Those Messages Going

The New Hampshire House will meet later this week, September 18 and 19, with the Senate meeting on the 19th. On the agenda: votes to sustain or override each of the Governor’s 50+ vetoes. At stake is the use of state general funds, i.e. taxpayer dollars, for direct and indirect funding of abortion.

Set out below are the reasons why it’s important to contact state representatives, state senators, and Governor Sununu with the clear unambiguous message: no public funding, direct or indirect, for abortion. That means sustaining the Governor’s veto of the state budget, and fighting to keep abortion out of any subsequent negotiated budget.

Governor Sununu has said reassuring things about direct funding of abortion. That is not the case about indirect funding, in which public dollars go to abortion providers purportedly for non-abortion work. Perhaps you have heard similar messages and non-messages from your own representatives.

At the heart of the matter: the state budget

The abortion funding question arises from Governor Sununu’s veto of the proposed state budget (see this blog’s earlier report). Enough concerned citizens have reached out to the Governor over the summer about this that his office has produced a form letter about it.

Thank you for contacting my office regarding abortion in New Hampshire. As Governor it has always been incredibly important to me to hear directly from Granite Staters on matters of great importance to them.

It is important for you to know that I have always opposed taxpayer funding of abortion, and have supported common-sense measures such as parental notification and the late-term abortion ban. In the past, I also supported legislative actions such as the Fetal Homicide Bill, Women’s Health Protection Act, and the Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act.

Please let us know your thoughts and ideas on this important issue as we move forward, and please do not hesitate to contact my office should you have concerns in the future.

Sincerely,

Christopher T. Sununu, Governor

(The only bill the Governor mentions that he actually signed is fetal homicide. Parental notification was already in place when he was elected, and bills regarding the other policies he mentioned have not made it out of the legislature.)

I’ll send a thank-you to the Governor for his letter. I’ll mention that I expect an equally forthright answer on giving money to abortion providers.

Indirect funding: reinforcing an abortion-first business model

The state budget Governor Sununu vetoed included a dramatic increase in funding for family planning. Has there been some kind of spike in the rate of unexpected pregnancy in New Hampshire? Nope. The increase is about abortion.

The proposed increase is to compensate family planning providers who are also abortion providers and who are losing federal funds by refusing to stop doing abortion work.

Title X (Ten) is a federal family planning program that grants money to states for family planning work, allowing the states to choose the contractors to actually carry out the family planning programs. Title X funds have never been allowed for direct abortion. Beginning last month, under a new federal provision called the Protect Life Rule, no Title X funds may go to abortion providers. The total amount of Title X money is not reduced by the Protect Life Rule. That money is available to contractors who don’t do abortions.

As explained by Cornerstone Action (a nonprofit for which I’m communications consultant), “This recognizes the fact that there is no practical difference between funding abortion and funding abortion providers. Every public dollar that goes to an abortion provider for non-abortion work helps to subsidize the abortion side of the business, by means of overhead such as facilities, equipment, utilities, and staffing.”

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England announced that it would drop out of New Hampshire’s Title X program rather than stop doing abortions. The other two freestanding abortion facilities followed suit, and even a few public health agencies that do not provide abortions joined in, out of a misplaced solidarity with abortion providers.

So much for patients relying on Title X programs. They are elbowed aside as their providers carry abortion work to the head of the priority list.

Cornerstone’s explanation of the Protect Life Rule bears reading in full. Here’s another excerpt:

The Protect Life Rule does not reduce the amount of family planning money coming from the federal government. At the same time, it respects the conscience rights of everyone who recognizes that abortion is not health care and that each abortion ends a human life. 

Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers have had it both ways in the past, providing abortion and federally-subsidized family planning under the same roof. They oppose the Protect Life Rule. Their message to you is, “Shut up and pay. We’ve got a business to run.”

…PPNNE calls the Protect Life Rule a “gag rule,” saying it inhibits communication between patients and providers. In fact, all the new rule inhibits is the ability of abortion providers to use public money, including indirectly, to perform, refer or promote abortion. 

Messages now

I’m going to email the Governor, thank him for his stand on direct funding, and urge him to be just as firm on indirect funding.

I’m going to email or call my senator and representatives, asking them to uphold the Governor’s veto of the state budget. I’ll ask them to oppose any direct or indirect funding of abortion.

Some of them might come back at me and tell me this is about health care. No, it isn’t. It’s about abortion, and abortion is not health care. Any provider who says it can’t provide family planning services because of a loss of Title X funds needs to be reminded that it lost those funds because it put abortion first in its business model.

 

The state budget – and what comes after

You need to get out on those sidewalks outside where abortions are happening. Abortions aren’t going on in the halls of Congress. Abby Johnson once said this to a room full of New Hampshire activists. Another time, in a very brief exchange with me, she was impatient when I mentioned the political work to which I’m drawn. “Politics isn’t going to end this,” she said, “this” meaning abortion and all its detritus.

And yet I stay involved in politics. I know what happens when we concede the arena to politicians unwilling to accept or defend the right to life. More than once, I’ve heard “how did we get here?” from stunned neighbors who have just realized how abortion-friendly is our state’s political culture.

One vote at a time, that’s how. Course correction will come the same way.

So what does this have to do with the state budget? First, the last budget proposal was not encouraging as far as the right to life and conscience rights are concerned. Second, I need to remember that passage of an abortion-friendly state budget will need to be met with something more than hand-wringing.

Year in and year out, the budget is dominated by health and human services spending. Yet without a systemic commitment to the right to life – not something assigned as a privilege, but recognized as a right – then all the spending is just so much vote-buying, swaying with the vagaries of political fashion.

I see much online cheering for the final implementation of the federal rule barring abortion providers from getting Title X family planning funds. At the risk of being the skunk at the garden party, I’ll remind you that the proposed state budget passed by the New Hampshire House and Senate includes a dramatic increase in family planning money from state general funds, to offset any loss of federal funds to abortion providers who are also Title X contractors.

And then there’s the line in the House/Senate budget that repeals the previous prohibition on the use of state general funds for abortion.

Yes, Governor Sununu vetoed that budget. He never cited the abortion language as a reason, although he found plenty else to complain about. Reports on recent budget negotiations include nothing about removing the abortion language.

The Governor does not have line-item veto power in New Hampshire. It’s all-or-nothing when it comes to the budget. I am sure neither the Governor nor any of his staffers will dispute me when I say that he unlikely to veto a budget over abortion funding, if negotiations resolve all his other concerns.

(Pending a resolution of the budget impasse, the state is operating on a continuing resolution that basically continues spending at the same level on the same items as the last budget, which expired on June 30. The government is not shut down.)

So here we are, in the political position New Hampshire pro-lifers know best: underfoot. This brings me back to that sharp reminder I got from Abby Johnson: politics isn’t going to end the carnage – not by itself, anyway. I’m not suggesting taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion providers is unimportant. I am saying that whatever the state budget eventually looks like, good or bad, the most important pro-life work is going to go on without regard to any negotiations at the State House.

After the state budget is signed, pregnancy care centers are still going to be going about their business. They need volunteers, board members, executive directors, medical staffers. They need diapers and wipes and car seats and office supplies. You don’t need to vote for that. You can just do it.

After the budget is signed, we’re still going to have – eventually – a loved one or a neighbor or a child’s classmate who’ll face pregnancy and won’t know where to turn. You can be a voice of hope. You don’t need to sport an “I voted” sticker to do that.

After the budget is signed, bigotry against people with disabilities will still be real and dangerous. The attitude “better dead than disabled” will need pushback over and over again. Babies diagnosed in utero with disabilities will be at risk of “termination” on those grounds alone. You can demonstrate how to affirm human dignity, particularly if you’re living with disability or an adverse diagnosis. You might want to share your story with one of your elected officials, because nothing beats a personal story to get a message across.

After the budget is signed, you might still be called to be a peaceful pro-life witness in a public place. You might be called to put your professional skill at the service of life-affirming ministries. You might be called to a routine of prayer that’s new to you.

Imagine all this going on regardless of who’s in charge at the State House or who’s rallying outside a hearing. Now open your eyes: it’s all happening.

Let’s encourage each other.

You’ll Be Paying for Abortion, If Proposed State Budget Passes

New Hampshire House and Senate conferees trying to agree on a state budget have agreed on one thing: everyone who pays taxes in New Hampshire will be funding unrestricted abortion if this budget passes.

The conference committee has OK’d the removal of budget language which in past budgets has limited the use of state funds for abortion.

The N.H. Senate voted to repeal language limiting abortion funding, and a House-Senate conference committee has endorsed that move.

House and Senate will vote on a state budget proposal June 27. The Governor will then decide whether to sign or veto the budget. A veto would likely lead to a legislative continuing resolution, basically a state-spending holding pattern, until agreement is reached on a new budget.

Governor Sununu has expressed in every way available to him that he will veto the budget as it currently stands, due to new taxes and excessive spending. He has not mentioned abortion funding as a reason for a possible veto.

Abortion funding is not a bargaining chip. It’s a dealbreaker. Perhaps no one has told him so yet. His office number is (603) 271-2121. The budget isn’t on his desk yet, but it’s coming.

House and Senate members need to get the same message before June 27.

Hyde amendment language

The language at risk of repeal in New Hampshire is based on the federal Hyde Amendment, which has been added to every federal Department of Health and Human Services budget since 1976. This funding limitation has prevented the use of federal DHHS funds for abortion, with exceptions for pregnancies from rape and incest.

Essentially, that has been the New Hampshire policy. Children conceived in violence can be aborted at public expense, but New Hampshire taxpayers have not yet been ordered to pay for abortions in other circumstances.

Abortion advocates have worked diligently for years at state and federal levels to undermine Hyde Amendment language, saying that it restricts health care access for poor women.

Anyone opposing restrictions on public funding for abortion is therefore adopting the fiction that abortion is health care. That goes for anyone who votes for a budget containing abortion funding, even if it’s a “compromise” budget.

sununu’s past funding decisions

As Executive Councilor, Chris Sununu voted in 2011 and 2016 to give family planning contracts to abortion providers including Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the Equality Center in Concord, and the Lovering Center in Greenland. Calling himself pro-choice, he drew a distinction: no to compelling taxpayers to fund abortion directly; yes to funding abortion providers for non-abortion work.

In August 2015, Sununu voted against a state contract with PPNNE, expressing concerns over revelations of some PP affiliates’ commerce in body parts from aborted fetuses. Ten months later, in an unprecented do-over on the same contracts, he flipped, saying that PP was no longer under investigation.

Elections have consequences?

There is no elected New Hampshire Democrat on the state level who supports restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortion.

Then again, there is no elected New Hampshire Republican on the state level who has announced that she or he will vote against the proposed budget for the reason that public funding for abortion is inconsistent with respect for human life, authentic health care, and conscience rights.

Hyde saves lives

Looking at the federal Hyde Amendment, Secular Pro-Life celebrated the amendment’s 40th anniversary in 2012. Its #HelloHyde campaign highlighted the people who were born, not aborted, when their mothers were covered by Medicaid.

The Hyde Amendment’s life-saving impact is hard to overstate. Both supporters and opponents agree that the Hyde Amendment has prevented over a million abortions. The disagreement, sad to say, is over whether that’s a good thing.

http://www.hellohyde.org/1-in-9/

more funding = more abortion

In April of this year, Michael J. New, Ph.D. of the Charlotte Lozier Institute wrote about Maine’s move to fund abortion with state dollars. He observed something that holds true anywhere public money is used for abortion.

There is a considerable amount of debate among scholars about various aspects of abortion policy. However, when it comes to the issue of taxpayer subsidies, there is a very broad consensus among both pro-life and pro-choice researchers that funding abortion through Medicaid significantly increases abortion rates. In 2009, the Guttmacher Institute–which was Planned Parenthood’s research arm until 2007–published a literature review on the research about public funding of abortion. They found that 19 of 22 studies found taxpayer funding of abortion increases the incidence of abortion.

https://lozierinstitute.org/hundreds-of-innocent-lives-depend-on-the-maine-state-legislature/

A Note on Death Penalty Repeal

Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire has vetoed repeal of the state’s death penalty law. As I write, the House will vote on an override in just a few hours. Whether enough votes are there is anyone’s guess. It’s going to be close. The Governor is fighting hard to have his veto sustained.

He considers capital punishment to be a way of supporting law enforcement. As the granddaughter of a cop and the niece of two others, I don’t, but that’s not what this post is about.

It’s odd that in a year when the Governor has promised that he’ll be vetoing all kinds of bills, he’s putting such a high value on vetoing this one. It’s his first veto, and he’s facing a Democratic House and Senate. I have heard from Republican legislators about the pressure being brought to bear by party brass to back up the Governor’s determination to keep the death penalty on the books.

I got a faint whiff of the pressure myself this morning at an informal gathering of political acquaintances. I’m an undeclared voter (that’s Granitespeak for “independent”), but I was admonished by someone who should know better that I had to back the Governor on this one, and tell my reps to do likewise.

A conscience vote was fine when the bill first came through House and Senate, I was told, but that was then and this is now. Now, it’s not a conscience vote. It’s a matter of supporting the Governor. The Dems are doing this on purpose, timing this, trying to make him look bad.

The Governor, by the way, touted a 64% approval rating in April, making him the third-most-popular governor in the nation. He doesn’t need my pity.

I’ve been involved in politics all my adult life. I understand horse trading, whipping votes, and how arms need to be twisted now and then. But never, least of all now, have I had any patience for considering a life-issue bill to be a matter of conscience in March and a matter of saving face two months later.

This is the kind of thing that makes “undeclared” the largest bloc of voters in New Hampshire.

Opposition to the death penalty is something of a stumbling block to a lot of people who are pro-life in other respects. Some of those people are Republican legislators who voted against the repeal bill earlier this session and will vote to sustain the veto. They’re not giving the party whips any heartburn. They will be consistent.

The Republicans who voted in favor of death penalty repeal are the ones getting the lectures now. They’re the ones I’m thinking about as the vote nears. I hope they’ll be consistent, too.

EMILY’s List makes its Choice for N.H. Governor: Molly Kelly

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.