Update: a heavy House agenda and a session-shortening snowstorm have moved the votes on these bills to Wednesday, March 21, 2018. This will be the second delay for the vote. The deadline for the House to act on the bill is close of the business day on March 22.
Tuesday, March 6, begins what might be a three-day session for the New Hampshire House. The representatives have an agenda that’s about 150 pages long. And yes, there’s a snowstorm in the forecast, as if the schedule weren’t already dicey enough.
No, it’s not too late to email your reps. Many of them have smartphones that they use to to check email and text messages during the House session.
Today’s civics lesson: Find your state representatives’ email address via this link on the General Court (legislature) web site. There are phone numbers for each rep as well; some are cell numbers and some are landlines. If you recognize a cell number, use it for a text message Tuesday morning, March 6. Don’t call at unsocial hours (some people have to be reminded of that).
Send a separate message for each bill. In an email, pack the basic message into the subject line in case that’s all the rep has time to read. When writing to your own district’s reps, be sure to mention your town. A subject line might be “Yes on HB 1680, from a [town name] resident.” Keep the message short and courteous (again, some people need to be reminded; present company excepted, I’m sure).
I’ll be monitoring the House session online, and you can, too, if you’re so inclined. Look for the Streaming Media link on the General Court web site.
I thought we were done with this, but government officials want the Little Sisters of the Poor to pay for other peoples’ birth control. In October, the feds bowed out of that asinine battle for the time being*, via a rule that is still open for public comment. Now, state-level harassment takes the stage as the Attorneys General of Pennsylvania and California – both men, as it happens – seek to force the Sisters to knuckle under.
The Sisters minister to elderly people living in poverty. Litigation is not their specialty. Fortunately, the Sisters have good legal representation. Too bad they need it.
Challengers to conscience rights aren’t done, and those challenges are going to go beyond contraception. Anyone who wants to force you to pay for other peoples’ contraception will just as readily work to overturn or prevent abortion-funding restrictions.
Anyone who says “health care” and means “you pay for my contraception” is debasing the language.
Anyone who sues nuns to force them to pay for contraception is waging war on women.
Anyone who thinks contraception is “preventive health care” is asserting that women are broken and need to be fixed.
We’ll see how the two offending states fare in their effort.
* From the web site of the Becket Fund, a public-interest law firm defending the Little Sisters of the Poor: “On October 6, 2017, the government issued a new rule with a broader religious exemption. The rule may be changed after the government considers the comments it receives. Becket attorney Mark Rienzi stated, ‘It should be easy for the courts to finalize this issue now that the government admits it broke the law. For months, we have been waiting for Department of Justice lawyers to honestly admit that fact, like the President did in the Rose Garden five months ago. Now that the agencies admit the mandate was illegal, we expect the leadership of the Department of Justice will cooperate in getting a final court resolution.'”
I got an email yesterday that would have gone straight into the trash file if not for the name of the sender. The subject line: “Why conservatives should vote for Chris Sununu for Governor.” I’m a pro-life voter, not necessarily a conservative or a party’s member. Then I saw the name of the sender: Ovide Lamontagne.
I have the utmost respect for Ovide. He’s a New Hampshire neighbor and a longtime pro-life advocate. He’s also a high-profile Republican. He is not a fan of the recent ad by GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu. He had a conversation with Sununu about it, resulting in the correspondence below, which as you will see was meant to be made public.
Here are two messages which must be read together for full effect. Make of them what you will. They might not change your view of candidate Sununu – I remain unmoved – but I think enough of Ovide to share his message. I also think Sununu’s reply should be kept handy for future reference.
I’m trying hard not to editorialize here, but the following points drown out my best intentions.
Sununu’s reassurances are preceded by his claim that he has always opposed taxpayer funding of abortion. He apparently thinks funding abortion providers is something different. Again, make of that what you will.
The gubernatorial campaign of underdog Max Abramson goes unmentioned in this correspondence save for one oblique reference in Chris Sununu’s statement.
I’m a firm believer in defensive elections. I’ve voted for candidates just because they’re less awful than their opponents. It riles me, though, when a candidate hands my money to abortion providers and then basically tells me that he’s my only logical choice at the polls.
The GOP/Dem and conservative/liberal frame of reference does not resonate with this pro-life voter. I’ve spent too much time at the State House watching “conservatives” kill pro-life legislation and grant contracts to abortion providers.
But enough commentary. The following correspondence is unedited.
Email from Ovide Lamontagne, November 4, 2016
I hope this email finds you well.
Like many of you, I approach the next few days leading into the November 8th general election with great anticipation and energy. It is fair to say that our Primary process has led to the nomination of an interesting slate of federal and state candidates. I firmly believe that, on balance, the Republican ticket holds the best chance of advancing an agenda which more closely reflects our values and the best interests of New Hampshire and the Nation.
Regarding the campaign for Governor, I encourage New Hampshire conservatives to vote for Chris Sununu. Like many of my conservative friends, I was angry and disillusioned when Chris changed his position and voted to fund Planned Parenthood this past Summer. There is simply no justification in my mind for allowing one cent of taxpayer money to be contributed to an abortion provider, especially one as notorious and as sinister as Planned Parenthood.
Even though he knew how I felt about his vote and his stated position on Life, shortly after winning his Primary, Chris called me to discuss his views on a host of conservative issues and specifically asked me to help him understand what pro-life initiatives I thought he could support. As we discussed a number of these issues, he explained his opposition to late term and partial birth abortion; his support of conscience rights for health care workers; his view that the buffer zone law should be repealed; and his belief that abortion providers should be held to the same health and safety standards applicable to healthcare facilities such as ambulatory surgical centers and providers. While he supports a women’s ability to have an abortion during the earlier stages of pregnancy, he said he strongly disagrees with the extremist views of Colin Van Ostern who has the full-throated endorsement of Planned Parenthood’s New Hampshire Action Fund. Among other things, Van Ostern supports abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy for any reason; opposes common sense health and safety standards for abortion clinics; and given the chance, I believe he would support taxpayer funding of abortion, the official position of Planned Parenthood nationally (i.e., they want to repeal the Hyde Amendment).
I asked Chris to memorialize his support for some of the common sense measures we discussed since the Primary. Please find attached a copy of a letter he recently sent me setting forth the pro-life initiatives he would support as Governor. While I strongly disagree with Chris on his vote to fund Planned Parenthood and his pro-choice position, I do believe that if elected Chris will indeed advance a constitutional and common-sense pro-life agenda, something that hasn’t happened in NH from the Corner Office in years.
On other issues, Chris is where we need the next Governor to be: he supports Right to Work and designing a NH solution regarding expanding healthcare coverage, not a Washington-mandated “permanent” Medicaid expansion program; he opposes Common Core and the federal government’s overreach in elementary and secondary education; and he opposes the establishment of a job-killing state minimum wage and rejects the false promise of taxpayer-funded commuter rail. He’ll bring conservative leaders into his administration and I believe he will create an environment for robust economic development, reversing almost 20 years of liberal Governors presiding over economic stagnation in the Granite State.
When I consider what is at stake in this election — and despite my disagreements with Chris Sununu on some issues which are very important to me, and I know are important to you — I believe that conservatives and all NH citizens will still be much better served with Chris in the Corner Office than Colin Van Ostern. This is not even a close call.
Please let me know if you have any questions or observations about supporting Chris Sununu for Governor. I hope you will join me in voting for Chris so that together we can begin to set New Hampshire on the right track.
If you are inclined to do so, I would also ask you to forward this email and the attached letter to your email lists and/or to publish both through social media.
All the best,
From Chris Sununu, attached to Lamontagne email as a PDF on campaign letterhead, undated
Thank you for your support and assistance in trying to get New Hampshire back on the right track. I appreciate our recent conversations discussing my ad response to the Democrats’ multimillion dollar media campaign accusing me of being against Medicaid funding of cancer screenings for women and pre-natal care. Their ads are blatantly dishonest.
As you know, I have always opposed taxpayer funding of abortions. It is important for conservative voters to know that I too support many of the common sense platform initiatives that they want to see passed including:
1. Fetal Homicide Bill
2. Women’s Health Protection Act
3. Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act
4. Late Term Abortion Ban
5. NH Buffer Zone Repeal
I know that my winning the race for Governor will be our best chance to get this important work done.
It is important to remind people that there are only two real choices in this race. By voting for me the voters can undo the liberal left-wing agenda that Democrats have imposed on New Hampshire over the past twenty years. Thank you again for your advice, your guidance and your support.
In declining to hear a case about conscience rights, a decision coinciding with Fortnight for Freedom, the U. S. Supreme Court just underscored the vulnerability of professionals who refuse in the course of their work to participate in ending human life.
The case involved pharmacists in Washington state who challenged a rule by the Washington Board of Pharmacy. Americans United for Life issued a recent statement summarizing the case.
The U.S. Supreme Court [on June 28, 2016] declined an opportunity to hear Stormans v. Wiesman, a challenge to a 2007 Washington Board of Pharmacy rule that punishes pharmacists and pharmacy owners with religious objections to stocking drugs with known life-ending effects. “Despite this missed opportunity to correct an unconstitutional abuse of power, the Washington State rule that punishes pharmacists and pharmacy owners who respect unborn life can and should be immediately repealed,” said Clarke Forsythe, AUL Acting President and Senior Counsel.
“The rule at issue in the Stormans case is unfortunately one of many examples where abortion advocates are pushing an extreme agenda of coercion under the faulty guise of ‘choice.’ As AUL has written about extensively, Planned Parenthood’s fingerprints are all over the unnecessary and unconstitutional rule,” continued Forsythe.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito disagreed with their colleagues who voted not to hear the Stormans appeal. As this year’s Fortnight for Freedom comes to a close, the words of Alito’s dissent are timely.
I would [hear the case] to ensure that Washington’s novel and concededly unnecessary burden on religious objectors does not trample on fundamental rights….
This case is an ominous sign. At issue are Washington State regulations that are likely to make a pharmacist unemployable if he or she objects on religious grounds to dispensing certain prescription medications. There are strong reasons to doubt whether the regulations were adopted for—or that they actually serve—any legitimate purpose. And there is much evidence that the impetus for the adoption of the regulations was hostility to pharmacists whose religious beliefs regarding abortion and contraception are out of step with prevailing opinion in the State. Yet the Ninth Circuit held that the regulations do not violate the First Amendment, and this Court does not deem the case worthy of our time. If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern.
Oh, these ads … thank goodness for that mute button on the TV remote.
When you hear an ad attacking someone for being against women’s health, you can bet the rent that “women’s health” is code for “compulsory universal funding of contraception.”
So-and-so has a troubling record on “women’s health” … wants to deprive women of “access” to health care … isn’t “good for women.” More to come: EMILY’s List, the pro-abortion PAC, has made an ad buy for the coming week to boost Jeanne Shaheen’s re-election campaign. This nonsense is supposed to mobilize independent female voters who otherwise wouldn’t be inclined to go to the polls. The three New Hampshire races where this approach is being pushed hardest by the free-contraception folks, who incidentally happen to be no-holds-barred abortion promoters: Shaheen vs. Brown, Hassan vs. Havenstein, Kuster v. Garcia.
Ironically, Brown and Havenstein unhesitatingly call themselves pro-choice. That’s not enough to suit the people with the pink signs and the grim ads, though. Brown has voted to respect the conscience rights of women and men who choose not to help provide contraceptives, including the ones that may induce abortion. That’s the hammer Shaheen’s using to pound him. She says that Brown’s vote would have allowed bosses to make health care decisions for women. As for Havenstein, the New Hampshire Democratic Party posted last April about his “deceptive stance on women’s issues:” “We already know that Havenstein opposes expanding coverage for birth control and family planning through the bipartisan medicaid expansion plan.” And that’s deceptive?
Access means free, which means we all pay, in the brave new world of reproductive rights. That’s why conscience protections are anathema to the candidates and PACs running the attack ads about “women’s health.” They’re seriously arguing that suppression of women’s fertility is a higher priority than food or shelter. After all, nowhere are they asserting that bosses who refuse to provide subsidies for rent or groceries are denying shelter or food to their employees. When those same bosses want to stay out of the birth-control business, though, they’re suddenly “denying access” to something critical. So much for choice.
Seems to me that if I want a boss to leave my bedroom, I should get my hand out of her pocket so she can move. If I want a decision to be private, I can’t ask for help paying for it. (Even medical decisions aren’t private, if insurance is involved. The company paying the bill has a right to know what it’s paying for.) If I want to foster respect for women’s choices and autonomy, I should respect the decisions of women who want to divest themselves financially from provision of abortion-inducing drugs and devices.
If only that would fit into a sound bite.
“So-and-so wants to deny you health care” is short and snappy. As code-phrases go, it’s powerful.
Are independent women in New Hampshire ready to look past the attack ads and break the code? Are people who recognize the mendacity of the attacks ready to speak out?
If the answers are Yes, the code phrase will go down as a colossal waste of campaign money. If the answers are No, the code will be used again and again – and we’ll deserve it.
Addendum: Here are a few of the women around the country who have gone to court to defend their conscience rights against governmental attempts to coerce them into helping provide abortive drugs and devices in the name of “contraception” and “women’s health.” They’re not willing to be bullied. These women are fighting the “code,” for all of us.
Barbara Green (co-owner, Hobby Lobby); Carrie Kolesar (co-owner, Seneca Hardwood Lumber Co.); Sister Mary Catherine, CK (in Nebraska v. HHS); Christine Ketterhagen (co-owner, Hercules Industries); Mary Ann Yep (founder, Triune Health Group); Margaret Kennedy (co-owner, Autocam Corp.); Judi Diane Schaefer and Rita Joanne Wilson (employees of Sharpe Holdings); Dorothy A. Shanahan (shareholder, Cherry Creek Mortgage Co.); Mary Frances Callahan, Mary Clare Bick, Mary Patricia Davies, Mary Margaret Jonz, and Mary Sarah Alexander (co-owners of controlling interest in Bick Holdings), Karen Mersino (Mersino Management Co.), Catherine A. Hartenbower (co-owner, Hart Electric), Lilli Johnson (president, Johnson Welded Products); Sharon Lycos and Bethanne Falkowski (shareholders, Trijicon Inc.); Teresa Jane Wieland (in Wieland v. Sebelius); Michele G. Waddell, Joanne V. Merrill and Kathy Byron (in Liberty University v. LEW); Little Sisters of the Poor (in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell); Mary Jo Feltl (co-owner, Feltl and Co. Inc.); Brenda Cannella and Cindy O’Boyle (in FOCUS v. Sebelius); Jeanne Monahan and Bethany Goodman (March for Life).