(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.
I don’t want to fund abortion providers by way of my tax dollars. Health care, yes; abortion, no; and there’s no such thing as avoiding the commingling of dollars when health care and abortion go on in the same building. Perhaps you agree.
Our state government doesn’t care, with all political parties in on the action. Abortion providers are so embedded in the state Department of Health and Human Services and in the Executive Council that the conscience rights of abortion resisters are in the toilet.
This is much on my mind this morning as I discover that the Executive Council and DHHS pulled a fast one recently. At the last Executive Council meeting, there was a contract item for renewal and supplemental funding of family planning contracts. That’s always a feed bag for abortion providers, so I clicked on the contract to check out the details. (You too can do a deep dive into any Council agenda; just click on the hyperlinked number next to any agenda item to get a look at the full contract in question.)
What I found was that numerous contractors had their contracts renewed – but the ones with abortion providers were not included. Hooray, right?
Wrong. I missed a “late item” added to the agenda after the public posting of the original.
How late was the late item? The day before the actual Council meeting. What was the late item? Adding the abortion providers back into the contract renewal. Contract extension amounts: $179,800 to the Equality Center in Concord, $222,896 to the Lovering Center in Greenland, and $548,000 to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
Speculate as you please on why that item was posted “late.” The contract extension passed.
State money or federal? Makes no difference as far as which of my pockets is picked. As the contract says, “Source of Funds: 52% Federal Funds from the Office of Population Affairs; US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, and 48% General Funds.” General Funds refers to money from the New Hampshire state budget.
This week’s Executive Council meeting includes an agenda item giving even more money to abortion providers, this time for HIV intervention programs. It’s another contract renewal and extension, with the funding source listed as 17% federal and 83% “other funds.” (How’s that for transparency?) If the Council approves the contract extension, the Equality Center will get an additional $150,000 while PPNNE will get an additional $242,500.
Would anyone be denied authentic health care services if abortion providers were excluded from the contract process? Only if abortion providers refuse to change their business model, which relies on mislabeling abortion as health care.
The latest PPNNE audited financial statement I’ve seen online is dated May 24, 2018, covering the year ending December 31, 2017. Amount spent on public policy: $1,626,944. Marketing and communication: $209,744. Fundraising: $1,165,984.
That’s three million dollars for non-clinical promotional work. The state contracts are peanuts by comparison. But neither PPNNE nor any other abortion provider will let you off the hook. Neither will the commissioner of DHHS or the Executive Council. You’re funding abortion providers whether you want to or not.
As for elections having consequences, this is all happening regardless of which party has a majority or holds the corner office. I’m looking forward to seeing if the Republican governor re-appoints the DHHS commissioner when his term expires next January.
As for subsidizing abortion by way of giving money to abortion providers, taxpayers are going to have a hard time divesting. A key question in any public policy debate is who wants it more? Victories are going to come piecemeal. The big ones won’t come from Executive Council votes. They’ll come from making abortion providers ineligible for your money when contracts are put out to bid in the first place.
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.
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.
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.
In September, legislators and the Governor agreed to a compromise budget that includes Hyde Amendment-style limitations on the use of state funds for abortion.
Unfortunately, the compromise does not protect taxpayers from funding abortion providers. Cornerstone Action, a New Hampshire advocacy group for which I’m a consultant, spelled out the details clearly. Their conclusion is apt: “Yes, the budget’s blocking of direct funding of abortion was a victory for New Hampshire, but there’s still much to be done.”
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.
Update, 5/30/19: HB 455, described in this post, has become law over Governor Sununu’s veto. The override votes were by the narrowest of margins, with two-thirds necessary: 247-123 in the House, 16-8 in the Senate.
The Trump Administration has announced a proposed rule that would prevent federal Title X family planning money from going to abortion providers. That’s “proposed.” It’s a long road from announcement to implementation. Pro-lifers are cheering as though it’s a done deal, and abortion providers are screaming as only people who’ve been hit in the wallet can scream.