The New Hampshire House has passed a budget with language “to ensure that public funds are not used to subsidize abortions directly or indirectly”. The proposed budget now goes to the Senate for consideration.
While New Hampshire has long protected taxpayers from most abortion funding (there are exceptions), the new House language calls for complete physical and financial separation of abortion from family planning. This would mean that an entity seeking a contract with the state to provide family planning services – say, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England – would not be eligible unless its abortion business were set up as a separate entity.
In the wake of the recent vote by the Executive Council to grant state money to two abortion providers, New Hampshire Right to Life has lauched a petition drive. From NHRTL:
“If you feel strongly that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers should NOT be receiving our tax dollars, we ask you to sign this petition and share with others to do so as well. NHRTL will then turn this petition over to Governor Sununu to demonstrate NH citizens do not approve of this public policy.”
Vice-President Pence broke a tie in the U.S. Senate yesterday. What passed, thanks to him and 50 Senators, was effectively a repeal of an Obama policy penalizing states that refuse to do business with abortion providers. H.J. Res. 43 is the name of the repeal resolution.
Senators Shaheen and Hassan of New Hampshire were perfectly happy with the Obama policy and they voted against the repeal.
The former president signed his policy on his way out the door, almost literally: it went into effect two days before he left office. Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony list has called it his parting gift to Planned Parenthood. Last month the House, led by Rep. Diane Black, voted to repeal Obama’s policy. The Senate effort was led by Sen. Joni Ernst.
I hope that by the time you read this, President Trump’s approval will have made repeal a done deal.
What repeal does NOT do: change the amount of any appropriation for family planning under Title X. Repeat: zero effect on the amount of money the federal government allocates to states for family planning programs (which, to hear some folks talk, is all there is to women’s health).
What repeal WILL do: allow states to decide for themselves, without any federal penalty, whether to grant Title X family planning contracts to agencies that perform abortions.
Planned Parenthood hates the repeal resolution. Their respect for women apparently ends when a woman decides to resist the abortion providers reaching into her wallet.
I’m one such woman. I know that abortion isn’t health care. And I’m not alone.
I wonder if New Hampshire Republicans take exception to this: “Chris Sununu took on own party for women’s health.” That statement is featured in a television ad now running, a week before the election.
Nasty implication there, bordering on a smear of Republicans, if Sununu’s statement is taken at face value.
But let’s be serious. Sununu’s talking about his Executive Council votes to give contracts to Planned Parenthood. That one vote he cast against a contract in 2015 appears more and more like an aberration, wiped from the slate by his do-over last June.
Candidate Sununu now abuses the term “women’s health” the same way his opposite number in the Democratic party does: equating taxpayer money to PP with “women’s health.”
I was at the Executive Council meetings where the last two PP contracts were considered. Neither of the Councilors now running for governor queried the commissioner of health and human services about doing business with a vendor that publicly threatened women with loss of health care if a contract were denied while at the same time spending well over a million bucks on “public policy”, fundraising, and marketing.
Now, both candidates for governor are touting their “women’s health” credentials, debasing the term by using it as code for taxpayer funding of abortion providers. One candidate has now implied that his own party is an obstacle to women’s health – at least that’s how the ad sounds to this independent voter. The other party’s candidate ought to be drafting a thank-you note to Sununu right about now.
It’s not my business how a party’s candidate characterizes his or her own party, since I am what is known in the Granite State as “undeclared.” This ad is a curious thing, though. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s received by voters and by Sununu’s fellow GOP candidates.
Pro-life New Hampshire readers have probably already seen the recent alert from New Hampshire Right to Life, warning of an upcoming vote by the Executive Council that might send funds to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, retroactive to what would have been the starting date of the contract that the Council rejected last August. Call your Councilor, says NHRTL, and I second that.
A few thoughts, in no particular order, with links to relevant posts:
The next Executive Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 29 at 10 a.m. at the State House. The agenda for the meeting won’t be posted publicly until just a few days in advance, at which time we’ll find out if the retroactive funding is indeed coming up for a vote. Here is a link to the web page where the agenda will be posted; when you see “June 29” listed as a meeting date, there will be a link to the agenda.
Look up your district here and your Councilor’s contact information here.
Recall that Councilors Joe Kenney, Chris Sununu, and Dave Wheeler voted to reject the PP contract last August. At that meeting, Kenney and Sununu both cited the Center for Medical Progress videos as a factor in their vote. Those videos feature PP employees discussing trafficking in body parts, with a PP medical professional describing her willingness to alter abortion procedures not to provide the best care to women but to extract the most lucrative intact fetal organs.
I was at the August 2015 meeting and heard the discussion that preceded the vote. Sununu said something that got short shrift from some of his colleagues and Governor Hassan: “I’m pro-choice and I support Planned Parenthood, but in my district, women have no [other] choice.” From my report on the meeting: “He unsuccessfully urged Hassan and his fellow Councilors to ‘take a step back’ and support a study of health care options in Sununu’s southeastern New Hampshire district. He said he got calls from constituents who wanted family planning services but not at Planned Parenthood.“
Those constituents need to get on the phone again. Sununu voted in favor of a PPNNE contract in 2011, and against one in 2015. A swing vote, for sure.
Oh, the (in)humanity: In August, Councilor Chris Pappas said it would be inhumane to deny PP its contract. He then expressed reservations about the CMP videos. It was unclear whether he had watched the videos or whether he might flag any part of the content “inhumane.”
Dismissing his colleagues’ concerns about the CMP videos, Councilor Colin Van Ostern (now seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor) called opposition to the August contract “ideology” and the CMP videos “heavily edited.” He has had ten months since then to view the unedited videos, still available online.
Governor Hassan, in an unguarded (but on-the-record) moment at the August meeting, said before the PP contract vote, “I’m sure Planned Parenthood would review its operations if this was voted down.” When the contract was voted down a few minutes later, Hassan’s team was ready with a blistering press release: “It is clear that today’s vote is the result of an ideological and political attack against Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions …The council’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood will hurt the health and economic well-being of thousands of Granite Staters.” No mention there of PP reviewing its operations. Likewise, there was no mention of how the health and economic well-being of thousands of Granite Staters could be hurt by removing only $319,000 from PPNNE’s $20 million annual budget. (Remember, the denied contract was for $638,000 over two years.)
Note that no one on the Council intends to retire from public office this year.
Councilor Colin Van Ostern, a Democrat, is running for Governor. So is Chris Sununu, a Republican.
Councilors Joe Kenney (R), Chris Pappas (D), and Dave Wheeler (R) are running to keep their Council seats.
As for Governor Maggie Hassan (D), she is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Kelly Ayotte.