Notes on NH House debates: dismemberment-abortion ban, born-alive infants protection

The vote by the 400-member New Hampshire House rejecting a ban on dismemberment abortion (also known as dilation and evacuation, or D&E) was 163-136 on a motion of inexpedient to legislate. A few minutes after that vote, a bill to protect children who survive attempted abortion went down 167-116 (another ITL motion).  About those numbers:

  • The votes came after 5 p.m., at the end of a long legislative day. No telling how many representatives had left for the day and how many simply bailed out on these particular bills.
  • On HB 1560, about two dozen representatives had excused absences.  Seventy-two other representatives were listed as “not voting.” As for HB 1627, the numbers were even worse: 88 “not voting.” (Full roll calls here and here.) If that many representatives have to leave by that time for work or family responsibilities, why does the House take up bills at that hour?
  • The Democratic party’s leadership team was united in opposing both bills. The only exception: deputy minority floor leader Andrew White, who missed both votes. On the Republican side, deputy majority whip Claire Rouillard of Goffstown and Terry Wolf of Bedford voted to kill both bills. Majority leader Dick Hinch and majority whip Kathleen Hoelzel opposed the born-alive bill.
  • The House Judiciary Committee voted 9-7 ITL on both bills, or roughly 56%-44%. That came very close to reflecting the split among those present and voting in the full House on the dismemberment ban: 54.5%-45.5%.

The floor debate

On HB 1560: “shouldn’t we have compassion?…If you did this to a puppy, you could go to jail. But if you do it to an unborn human, you get a pass.”

Several representatives spoke in defense of the bill and against the ITL motion.

  • Rep. Kathy Souza (R-Manchester), arguing in favor of the bill and against the ITL motion: “[Dismemberment abortion]consists of a long tool…with a grooved end being inserted by the abortionist into the woman’s uterus. Randomly, a leg, an arm, is grasped with this tool. It is twisted and torn off. The child is alive….The baby bleeds to death with undescribable pain…. This is brutality….And as one who worked to try to abolish the death penalty, I’m aware of some of the strong arguments, to wit, lethal injection is not always as painless and quick as some have said it is. Oftentimes it takes awhile, and suffering takes place. If we are pushing compassion for those who have committed the most heinous crimes in our society, shouldn’t we [have] some compassion for a living unborn child being literally torn apart?”
  • Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont): “If you did this to a puppy, you could go to jail. But if you do it to an unborn human, you get a pass….
    [The bill] is challenged on the grounds that two state courts [Oklahoma and Kansas] have already enjoined similar laws on constitutional grounds.  But you know, this is really to be expected. It’s what happens with abortion laws in the United States. if the last fifty years have taught us anything, it is that the constitutional status of laws changes with great frequency and sometimes radically. When the Supreme Court upheld the federal [partial-birth] abortion ban,…[t]he court held that protecting unborn children from the brutal inhumanity of partial-birth abortion does not impose an undue burden on abortion because other methods can be used. In fact, the same logic can be applied to D&E.”
  • Rep. Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford): “We passed a partial-birth abortion ban in this state[…] because of the sheer brutality of it. The D&E is the same level of brutality.” To objections made by opponents about some of the language in the bill: “There is in your seat pockets a floor amendment which would correct that and change the language [to meet] the objection. When we vote to overturn this ITL, we’ll introduce that amendment and this objection will quickly go away.” [Editor’s note: the inexpedient-to-legislate motion passed, and Rep. Wuelper’s amendment therefore never came up.] …”The [opponents of the] bill claim it’s a problem to criminalize health care providers…and [impose] criminal penalties. Well, we’re saying it’s a crime to perform this procedure [dismemberment abortion]. This is what legislatures do. They define crimes. And when we define a crime, we typically assign a penalty, otherwise a crime would be moot.”
  • Rep. Frank McCarthy (R-Conway):  “If those who slice off the head of human beings are condemned by the world as being part of an evil ungodly immoral culture, then what, pray tell, are we if we allow this [dismemberment abortion] to take place within our midst on a daily basis? Morality counts.”

Rep. Linda Kenison (D-Concord) urged her colleagues to accept the committee’s report and kill the bill. She refused to use the term “dismemberment,” preferring “D&E,” which she called “the most medically sound and safe procedure for a second-trimester pre-viability abortion….That’s the key. The fetus is not viable.” She also pooh-poohed concerns over fetal pain, saying that the Judiciary Committee had heard medical testimony that fetal brains are insufficiently developed in the second trimester to feel pain. (A review by the Charlotte Lozier Institute of medical literature on fetal pain, summarized here, contradicts Rep. Kenison.) 

“If this bill is enacted, the state of New Hampshire will undoubtedly face costly and unnecessary litigation.” Rep. Kenison, as the last person to speak before the question was called, escaped inquiry into how she could express such a concern after she voted last year against repeal of the buffer zone law – which has embroiled the state in costly and unnecessary litigation.

On HB 1627:  “These children are under the knife of abortion, but somehow, they manage to survive. The question before us: should that baby who has so far exceeded expectations to come out alive, should that baby be protected?”

HB 1627 may or may not have been poorly-drafted. What’s not in dispute is that no one objecting to the language offered any floor amendment. No one who objected to the bill said the idea of protecting born-alive babies was good but the vehicle needed work. It was almost 6 p.m., after all.

Reps. Wuelper and Warren Groen (R-Rochester) did their best to overcome a hostile committee report. Both spoke in defense of the defenseless. “The majority claims we don’t need this bill because we have existing law. The fact of the matter is those existing laws have not protected children who were born accidentally from abortion procedures,” said Wuelper. “These children are under the knife of abortion. They are destined to die at the hands of their, quote, medical provider, end quote, but somehow, they manage to survive. They manage to come out alive. The question before us: should that baby who has so far exceeded expectations to come out alive, should that baby be protected?”  

Groen co-sponsored the bill along with Reps. Victoria Sullivan (R-Manchester) and David Murotake (R-Nashua). He tried to allay concerns that the bill called for inappropriate care for abortion survivors.”No extraordinary measures needed: that’s what this bill calls for.” Don’t starve the baby, give reasonable care.

But nothing’s that simple when it comes to drafting legislation, particularly when the legislation seeks to give a little respect to a baby who didn’t get the memo about being aborted.

Two messages that were not uttered aloud by HB 1627’s opponents came across loud and clear nevertheless as the born-alive infant protection bill was killed: The question of whether a woman seeking abortion is entitled to a terminated pregnancy or a dead baby has been settled, and the dead-baby caucus has settled it; and there’s no conflict of interest when an abortion provider is the one determining if a born-alive child is really born alive.

Rep. Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland) handled the floor speech on behalf of the ITL recommendation. “This bill seeks to address a problem that appears not to exist in New Hampshire” – and since the the state collects no abortion data including incidence of live births following induced abortion, it’s easy to say a problem “appears not to exist.” 

“I think what may have been persuasive to a majority of the Judiciary Committee, bipartisan, Republican and Democrat, is that ideology and beliefs aside, this is a poorly-drafted unworkable bill which would create of risk of making felons of doctors and nurses…. This bill would require doctors to employ extraordinary resuscitation measures for pre-viable fetuses that are born as a result of preterm or early labor or termination, even when there is no chance of viability or survival. ” Preterm or early labor? Irrelevant to the bill, but useful as a way of filing the rough edges off the word “termination” standing alone. Note Rep. Berch’s term “pre-viable fetuses that are born.” A human fetus that has been born is an infant. 

The “extraordinary resuscitation measures” of which Rep. Berch speaks? Here are the measures called for in the bill: “A person shall not deny or deprive an infant of nourishment with the intent to cause or allow the death of the infant for any reason…A person shall not deprive an infant of medically appropriate and reasonable medical care and treatment or surgical care.” Vague terms, warned Rep. Berch – so vague that what they mean is “extraordinary resuscitation.”

More concern from Rep. Berch about language: “The mandatory obligations on doctors  arise whenever there is, quote, ‘any sign of life,’ although the proposed law does not define that term. And according to testimony, neonatal doctors disagree on what that term means.”

“I have tried to show that this bill even if it were a good idea is simply not ready for prime time. But it is not a good idea.” The “idea,” of course, was to treat abortion survivors as humans, not as medical waste.

“[The bill] criminalizes the practice of safe and compassionate medicine by ignoring concepts of fetal gestation, and the issue of viability. And for the mother, it adds severe stress and uncertainty at an already difficult time, which can have long-term negative impacts.” I wonder if he meant to use the word mother, apt as it is.  In a bit of a non sequitur, Rep. Berch went on to say that in New Hampshire, “We have highly experienced and talented neonatal specialists.” He did not explain how a neonatal specialist might be on hand for an induced termination of pregnancy.  “We are talking about medically complex and difficult pregnancies.” Not necessarily, and in  any case the complexity and difficulty of a pregnancy have no relevance to whether the child is live-born after an attempt to induce abortion.

When Rep. Berch was done and the question had been called, Merrimack’s Rep. Jeanine Notter made one quick attempt to cut through the weeds with her parliamentary inquiry (a device to make one last pitch for a bill): “If I believe this is a tiny baby worthy of protection, would I now press the red button [to vote against the ITL motion]?”

The inexpedient-to-legislate motion passed, with well over a hundred elected representatives missing by the time the vote was cast.

Roll calls on NH House votes, HB 1560 & HB 1627

vote checkmarkHere are the roll calls on the February 10 votes on the New Hampshire House on bills to ban dismemberment abortion (HB 1560) and to protect children who survive attempted abortion (HB 1627). Party affiliation is noted in parentheses. Full results including names of representatives with excused absences or not voting are available on the House web site (HB 1560 here, HB 1627 here.) In both cases, the motion being voted upon was “inexpedient to legislate,” so a “yea” vote was a vote to kill the bill.

Look up your district here.

A summary of the floor debate will be posted separately.

HB 1560, relative to abortion procedures [dismemberment abortion]

Motion was “inexpedient to legislate.” Motion passed 163-136.

Yes on ITL – in favor of killing HB 1560 (163 votes)

Belknap County: Dennis Fields (r), Valerie Fraser (r), Herbert Vadney (r)

Carroll County: Edward Butler (d), Susan Ticehurst (d) Karen Umberger (r), Ted Wright (r)

Cheshire County: Michael Abbott (d), Richard Ames (d), Paul Berch (d), John Bordenet (d), Cynthia Chase (d), Daniel Eaton (d), Gladys Johnsen (d), Douglas Ley (d), John Mann (d), James McConnell (r), William Pearson (d), Larry Phillips (d), Kris Roberts (d), Timothy Robertson (d), Tara Sad (d), Marjorie Shepardson (d), Franklin Sterling (r), Bruce Tatro (d), Lucy Weber (d)

Coos County: Alethea Froburg (d), William Hatch (d), Wayne Moynihan (d), Robert Theberge (d), Yvonne Thomas (d)

Grafton County: Richard Abel (d), Susan Almy (d), Rebecca Brown (d), Mary Cooney (d), Susan Ford (d), Erin Hennessey (r), Martha Hennessey (d), Patricia Higgins (d), Kevin Maes (d), Linda Massimilla (d), Sharon Nordgren (d), Wendy Piper (d), Suzanne Smith (d), George Sykes (d), Charles Townsend (d)

Hillsborough County: Robert Backus (d), Jane Beaulieu (d), Pamela Brown (d), Frank Byron (r), Chris Christensen (r), Lars Christiansen (r), Alan Cohen (d), Patricia Cornell (d), David Cote (d), Elizabeth Edwards (d), Mary Freitas (d), Kenneth Gidge (d), Jeffrey Goley (d), Mary Gorman (d), C. Lee Guerette (d), Suzanne Harvey (d), Mary Heath (d), Christopher Herbert (d), Martin Jack (d), Neal Kurk (r), Peter Leishman (d), Latha Mangipudi (d), Jonathan Manley (d), Michael O’Brien (d), Marjorie Porter (d), Mark Proulx (r), Cindy Rosenwald (d), Claire Rouillard (r), Robert Rowe (r), Eric Schleien (r) Lisa Scontsas (r), Gilman Shattuck (d), Barbara Shaw (d), Gregory Smith (r), Timothy Smith (d), Kendall Snow (d), Daniel Sullivan (d), Charlene Takesian (r), Kermit Williams (d), Terry Wolf (r), David Woodbury (d), Nick Zaricki (r)

Merrimack County: Paula Bradley (d), Clyde Carson (d), Helen Deloge (d), David Doherty (d), Karen Ebel (d), Barbara French (d), Mary Gile (d), Paul Henle (d), Geoffrey Hirsch (d), David Karrick (d), Linda Kenison (d), Frank Kotowski (r), David Luneau (d), James MacKay (d), Richard Marple (r), John Martin (r), Howard Moffett (d), Mel Myler (d) Mario Ratzki (d), Chip Rice (d), Katherine Rogers (d), George Saunderson (d), Dianne Schuett (d), Brian Seaworth (r), Stephen Shurtleff (d), Mary Jane Wallner (d)

Rockingham County: Patrick Abrami (r), Gary Azarian (r), Skip Berrien (d), David Borden (d), Michael Cahill (d), Jacqueline Cali-Pitts (d), Francis Chase (r), Robert Cushing (d), Debbie DiFranco (d), Fred Doucette (r), Beverly Ferrante (r), Pamela Gordon (d), Mary Griffin (r), Joseph Guthrie (r), Frank Heffron (d), Patricia Lovejoy (d), Rebecca McBeath (d), David Milz (r), Laura Pantelakos (d), John Potucek (r), Frederick Rice (r), Alexis Simpson (d), Joe Sweeney (r), Gerald Ward (d)

Strafford County: William Baber (d), David Bickford (r), Peter Bixby (d), Wayne Burton (d), Len DiSesa (d), Timothy Horrigan (d), Naida Kaen (d), Peter Schmidt (d), Marjorie Smith (d), Thomas Southworth (d), Judith Spang (d), Dale Sprague (d), Audrey Stevens (d), Susan Treleaven (d), James Verschueren (d), Janet Wall (d), Kenneth Ward (d)

Sullivan County: John Cloutier (d), Larry Converse (d), Suzanne Gottling (d), James Grenier (r), Virginia Irwin (d), Andrew O’Hearne (d), Lee Oxenham (d), Steven Smith (r)

No on ITL – supporting HB 1560 (136 votes)

Belknap County: Glen Aldrich (r), Russell Dumais (r), Donald Flanders (r), Brian Gallagher (r), Raymond Howard Jr. (r), Shari LeBreche (r), Robert Luther (r), Peter Spanos (r), Franklin Tilton (r)

Carroll County: Lino Avellani (r), Thomas Buco (d), Ed Comeau (r), Glenn Cordelli (r), Frank McCarthy (r), Mark McConkey (r), Bill Nelson (r), Stephen Schmidt (r)

Cheshire County: none

Coos County: John Fothergill (r), Laurence Rappaport (r), Leon Rideout (r), John Tholl (r)

Grafton County: Brad Bailey (r), Duane Brown (r), Stephen Darrow (r), Edmond Gionet (r), Robert Hull (r), Paul Ingbretson (r), Eric Johnson (r), Rick Ladd (r)

Hillsborough County: Christopher Adams (r), Keith Ammon (r), Benjamin Baroody (d), James Belanger (r), Barbara Biggie (r), Ralph Boehm (r), John Burt (r), Rick Christie (r), James Coffey (r), David Danielson (r), Eric Eastman (r), Frank Edelblut (r), Elizabeth Ferreira (r), Bart Fromuth (r), Larry Gagne (r), Carlos Gonzalez (r), Linda Gould (r), Barbara Griffin (r), Robert Haefner (r), Carolyn Halstead (r), Peter Hansen (r), Richard Hinch (r), Edith Hogan (r), William Infantine (r), Jean Jeudy (d), Joseph Lachance (r), Peggy McCarthy (r), Donald McClarren (r), Mark McLean (r), Josh Moore (r), Keith Murphy (r), Jeanine Notter (r), Bill Ohm (r), James Parison (r), Anthony Pellegrino (r), David Pierce (r), Kimberly Rice (r), Carl Seidel (r), Tammy Simmons (r), Kathleen Souza (r), Phillip Straight (r), Victoria Sullivan (r), Jordan Ulery (r)

Merrimack County: Michael Brewster (r), Harold French (r), Gregory Hill (r), JR Hoell (R), Werner Horn (r), Carol McGuire (r), Dan McGuire (r), Thomas Walsh (r)

Rockingham County: Max Abramson (r), Mary Allen (r), Alfred Baldasaro (r), David Bates (r), Brian Chirichiello (r), Andrew Christie (r), Allen Cook (r), Yvonne Dean-Bailey (r), Debra DeSimone (r), James Devine (r), Joe Duarte (r), Robert Elliott (r), J. Tracy Emerick (r), Robert Fesh (r), William Gannon (r), Richard Gordon (r), Dennis Green (r), Joseph Hagan (r), Jeffrey Harris (r), Bruce Hodgdon (r), Kathleen Hoelzel (r), Robert Introne (r), Daniel Itse (r), Lawrence “Mike” Kappler (r), Walter Kolodziej (r), Carolyn Matthews (r), Robert Nigrello (r), John O’Connor (r), Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien (r), James Spillane (r), John Sytek (r), Douglas Thomas (r), Rio Tilton (r), Chris True (r), Pamela Tucker (r), Michael Vose (r), Joanne Ward (r), James Webb (r), David Welch (r), Kenneth Weyler (r)

Strafford County: Steven Beaudoin (r), Roger Berube (d), Catherine Cheney (r), Susan DeLemus (r), Robert Graham (r), James Gray (r), Warren Groen (r), Thomas Kaczynski Jr. (r), Don Leeman (r), John Mullen (r), Joseph Pitre (r), Leonard Turcotte (r), Kurt Wuelper (r)

Sullivan County: Raymond Gagnon (d), Thomas Laware (r), Skip Rollins (r)

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HB 1627, relative to protection of infants born alive

Motion was “inexpedient to legislate.” Motion passed 167-116.

Yes on ITL – in favor of killing HB 1627 (167 votes)

Belknap County: Dennis Fields (r), Donald Flanders (r), Herbert Vadney (r)

Carroll County: Thomas Buco (d), Edward Butler (d), Mark McConkey (r), Susan Ticehurst (d), Karen Umberger (r), Ted Wright (r)

Cheshire County: Michael Abbott (d), Richard Ames (d), Paul Berch (d), John Bordenet (d), Cynthia Chase (d), Daniel Eaton (d), Gladys Johnsen (d), Douglas Ley (d), John Mann (d), James McConnell (r), William Pearson (d), Larry Phillips (d), Kris Roberts (d), Timothy Robertson (d), Tara Sad (d), Marjorie Shepardson (d), Franklin Sterling (r), Bruce Tatro (d), Lucy Weber (d)

Coos County: Alethea Froburg (d), William Hatch (d), Wayne Moynihan (d), Laurence Rappaport (r), Robert Theberge (d), John Tholl (r), Yvonne Thomas (d)

Grafton County: Richard Abel (d), Susan Almy (d), Rebecca Brown (d), Mary Cooney (d), Susan Ford (d), Erin Hennessey (r), Martha Hennessey (d), Patricia Higgins (d), Keven Maes (d), Linda Massimilla (d), Sharon Nordgren (d), Wendy Piper (d), Suzanne Smith (d), George Sykes (d), Charles Townsend (d)

Hillsborough County: Christopher Adams (r), Benjamin Baroody (d), Jane Beaulieu (d), James Belanger (r), Pamela Brown (d), Frank Byron (r), Chris Christensen (r), Alan Cohen (d), Patricia Cornell (d), David Cote (d), Mary Freitas (d), Jeffrey Goley (d), Mary Gorman (d), Robert Haefner (r), Carolyn Halstead (r), Suzanne Harvey (d), Mary Heath (d), Christopher Herbert (d), Richard Hinch (r), Martin Jack (d), Jean Jeudy (d), Neal Kurk (r), Joseph Lachance (r), Peter Leishman (d), Latha Mangipudi (d), Jonathan Manley (d), Michael O’Brien (d), Marjorie Porter (d), Mark Proulx (r), Cindy Rosenwald (d), Claire Rouillard (r), Robert Rowe (r), Eric Schleien (r), Gilman Shattuck (d), Barbara Shaw (d), Gregory Smith (r), Timothy Smith (d), Kendall Snow (d), Daniel Sullivan (d), Charlene Takesian (r), Kermit Williams (d), Terry Wolf (r), David Woodbury (d), Nick Zaricki (r)

Merrimack County: Paula Bradley (d), Clyde Carson (d), Helen Deloge (d), David Doherty (d), Karen Ebel (d), Barbara French (d), Mary Gile (d), Paul Henle (d), Geoffrey Hirsch (d), David Karrick (d), Linda Kenison (d), Frank Kotowski (r), David Luneau (d), James MacKay (d), Howard Moffett (d), Mel Myler (d), Mario Ratzki (d), Chip Rice (d), Katherine Rogers (d), George Saunderson (d), Dianne Schuett (d), Stephen Shurtleff (d), Mary Jane Wallner (d)

Rockingham County: Patrick Abrami (r), Gary Azarian (r), Skip Berrien (d), David Borden (d), Michael Cahill (d), Jacqueline Cali-Pitts (d), Francis Chase (r), Andrew Christie (r), Robert Cushing (d), Debbie DiFranco (d), Fred Doucette (r), Beverly Ferrante (r), Pamela Gordon (d), Mary Griffin (r), Joseph Guthrie (r), Frank Heffron (d), Kathleen Hoelzel (r), Patricia Lovejoy (d), Rebecca McBeath (d), David Milz (r), Robert Nigrello (r), Laura Pantelakos (d), Alexis Simpson (d), Gerald Ward (d), Joanne Ward (r), James Webb (r)

Strafford County: William Baber (d), David Bickford (r), Peter Bixby (d), Wayne Burton (d), Len DiSesa (d), Timothy Horrigan (d), Naida Kaen (d), Peter Schmidt (d), Marjorie Smith (d), Thomas Southworth (d), Judith Spang (d), Dale Sprague (d), Audrey Stevens (d), Susan Treleaven (d), James Verschueren (d), Janet Wall (d), Kenneth Ward (d)

Sullivan County: John Cloutier (d), Larry Converse (d), Suzanne Gottling (d), James Grenier (r), Virginia Irwin (d), Andrew O’Hearne (d), Lee Oxenham (d)

No on ITL – supporting HB 1627 (116 votes)

Belknap County: Glen Aldrich (r), Valerie Fraser (r), Brian Gallagher (r), Raymond Howard Jr. (r), Shari LaBreche (r), Robert Luther (r), Peter Spanos (r), Franklin Tilton (r)

Carroll County: Lino Avellani (r), Ed Comeau (r), Glenn Cordelli (r), Frank McCarthy (r), Bill Nelson (r), Stephen Schmidt (r)

Cheshire County: none

Coos County: John Fothergill (r), Leon Rideout (r)

Grafton County: Brad Bailey (r), Duane Brown (r), Stephen Darrow (r), Edmond Gionet (r), Robert Hull (r), Paul Ingbretson (r), Eric Johnson (r), Rick Ladd (r)

Hillsborough County: John Balcom (r), Barbara Biggie (r), Ralph Boehm (r), John Burt (r), Rick Christie (r), James Coffey (r), Eric Eastman (r), Frank Edelblut (r), Elizabeth Ferreira (r), Bart Fromuth (r), Larry Gagne (r), Carlos Gonzalez (r), Linda Gould (r), Barbara Griffin (r), Edith Hogan (r), Peggy McCarthy (r), Donald McClarren (r), Mark McLean (r), Josh Moore (r), Keith Murphy (r), Jeanine Notter (r), Bill Ohm (r), James Parison (r), Anthony Pellegrino (r), David Pierce (r), Kimberly Rice (r), Lisa Scontsas (r), Carl Seidel (r), Tammy Simmons (r), Kathleen Souza (r), Phillip Straight (r), Victoria Sullivan (r), Jordan Ulery (r)

Merrimack County: Michael Brewster (r), Harold French (r), JR Hoell (r), Werner Horn (r), John Martin (r), Brian Seaworth (r), Thomas Walsh (r)

Rockingham County: Max Abramson (r), Mary Allen (r), Alfred Baldasaro (r), David Bates (r), Brian Chirichiello (r), Allen Cook (r), Debra DeSimone (r), James Devine (r), Joe Duarte (r), Robert Elliott (r), J. Tracy Emerick (r), Robert Fesh (r), William Gannon (r), Richard Gordon (r), Dennis Green (r), Jeffrey Harris (r), Bruce Hodgdon (r), Robert Introne (r), Daniel Itse (r), Lawrence “Mike” Kappler (r), Walter Kolodziej (r), Carolyn Matthews (r), John O’Connor (r), Sherman Packard (r), John Potucek (r), Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien (r), Frederick Rice (r), James Spillane (r), Joe Sweeney (r), John Sytek (r), Douglas Thomas (r), Rio Tilton (r), Chris True (r), Pamela Tucker (r), Michael Vose (r), David Welch (r), Kenneth Weyler (r)

Strafford County: Steven Beaudoin (r), Roger Berube (d), Catherine Cheney (r), Susan DeLemus (r), Robert Graham (r), James Gray (r), Warren Groen (r), Thomas Kaczynski Jr. (r), Don Leeman (r), John Mullen (r), Joseph Pitre (r), Leonard Turcotte (r), Kurt Wuelper (r)

Sullivan County: Thomas Laware (r), Skip Rollins (r)


 

NH committee publishes reports on Born-Alive & dismemberment abortion bills; House to vote next week

The New Hampshire House calendar for the February 10 session has just been released, with reports on bills including HB 1627, the Born-Alive Infant Protection bill, and HB 1560, a bill to ban the dismemberment method of abortion.

Here are the House Judiciary Committee reports on the bills. For most legislators, this is the only information they will see before the vote. Voters who support these bills should contact their representatives and ask them to overturn the “inexpedient to legislate” committee reports.


HB 1560-FN, relative to abortion procedures. MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE (committee vote: 9-7). MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.

Rep. Linda Kenison for the Majority of Judiciary. This bill seeks to add a new section to New Hampshire RSA 132 (Protection for Maternity and Infancy) which would prohibit the most common method of second trimester pre-viability abortion to the ten percent (10%) of women who make a difficult decision to terminate their pregnancy. The medical term for this safe procedure is called non-intact D&E (Dilation and Evacuation). Across the country, this procedure is performed on the ten percent of women, ninety-five percent (95%) of the time. Other jurisdictions, as recently as January 22, 2016, have held nearly identical statutory language which banned this very type of D&E, likely unconstitutional. Nauser v. Kansas, Court of Appeals of the State of Kansas (2016). The appellate court refused to overrule the lower court’s injunction which kept the law from taking effect, reasoning that the statute violated the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Similarly, the United States Supreme Court determined this to be a safe alternative to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 (a federal statute regulating abortion procedures.) Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 US 127 (2007). The Gonzales court also recognized long-standing law which prohibits an undue interference for the State on a woman’s right to terminate their pregnancy prior to viability. Roe v. Wade, 410 US 113 (1973). This bill, if passed, will likely force New Hampshire into costly and unnecessary litigation. In addition to the constitutional issues, the bill’s language is discriminatory and disregards the individual rights of women New Hampshire citizens. The bill allows a court to determine whether the identity of the women should be disclosed in “every civil criminal, or administrative proceeding,” regardless of her consent to such disclosure. It further allows only a “married” father of the unborn to bring an action for civil damages, yet does not provide the right to an unmarried father or same-sex spouse. This bill also criminalizes health care providers for practicing medicine in a manner they determine is medically sound and is in the best interest of their patients. This bill imposes criminal penalties, including a class A felony for physicians and other medical providers who perform this procedure. We are trusted with the responsibility to pass laws for all the citizens of New Hampshire. This bill, as worded, falls short of our responsibility and violates the laws of the State of New Hampshire and United States Constitution.

Rep. Kurt Wuelper for the Minority of Judiciary. The minority believes the dismemberment abortion procedure known as Dilation and Evacuation [D&E] is so monstrous it should be illegal. No baby should ever be subjected to being physically torn limb-from-limb, which is precisely what the D&E does. Our Constitution forbids “cruel and unusual” punishment for crimes. We apply this principle even to those who have committed crimes so serious they have received the death penalty. We believe the pre-born child, having committed no crime, deserves similar mercy. Even more, our State should do all it can to protect every baby from such a torturous procedure. We believe the Supreme Court would follow the same logic it used to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion ban and uphold the D&E ban.

HB 1627-FN, relative to the protection of infants born alive. MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE (committee vote: 9-7). MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.

Rep. Paul Berch for the Majority of Judiciary. There are existing laws, both Federal and State, that extend protections to infants born alive. This bill seeks to go beyond these laws to allow criminal prosecutions of doctors who are believed to have exceeded vague concepts relating to evidence of life, medically necessary or reasonable care, without defining these terms. A bipartisan majority of the committee felt this bill impermissibly interferes with medical professionals trying to provide the best medical care that they can. This legislation would require doctors to employ extraordinary resuscitation measures for pre-viable fetuses who are born as a result of early (pre-term) labor or abortion – even where there is no chance of viability or ultimate survival. The requirements of this bill deviate from the medical standard of care and interfere with the ability of physicians to work during a time of pregnancy loss or termination. New Hampshire currently has some of the lowest abortion rates and the best maternal health outcomes in the country, yet we heard testimony that this legislation would threaten the state’s top neonatologists and fetal medicine specialists with prosecution and subject doctors and families to an invasive level of government interference.

Rep. Kurt Wuelper for the Minority of Judiciary. The minority believes that every baby born alive deserves nourishment and “medically appropriate and reasonable” care, even if that baby is born alive accidentally after an abortion procedure. Further, it is the role of the Legislature to define crimes and establish penalties for crimes. This bill is similar to the Federal Born Alive Protection Act and requires any such baby receive such care and makes failure to provide that care a crime. With criminal cases from other states documenting that hundreds of these babies have been killed (or allowed to die with no care given), we believe our state needs to clearly identify such wanton disregard for living babies a serious crime.