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.