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.
What happened between those two dates was a lesson and a warning: anyone who tries to stop giving money to PP, however small an amount, will be smeared. Also, PP shrewdly turned Komen’s decision into a fundraising opportunity, reportedly getting $250,000 in donations within days – donations not earmarked for breast health work, by the way.
Fox News reported at the time that Komen grants to PP totaled roughly $680,000 in 2011 and $580,000 in 2010, “going to at least 19 of its affiliates for breast-cancer screening and other breast-health services.” Those services were (and remain) primarily manual breast exams. PP does not do mammograms, as PP leader Cecile Richards affirmed to a Congressional committee in 2015.
Remember – Komen was planning to pull the PP grants in order to give the money to organizations doing more direct breast-care services. That wasn’t acceptable to PP.
At the time of the Komen flap, Richards decried the politicization of women’s health. “It’s hard to understand how an organization with whom we share a mission of saving women’s lives could have bowed to this kind of bullying. It’s really hurtful.” To the New York Times: “I think there’s really been a chord struck over this issue, this issue of political organizations who are trying to politicize women’s reproductive health. This kind of political bullying — I think folks are just saying, ‘Enough.’”
Komen officials could have swapped stories with her about how hurtful it is to bow to bullies.
One Komen executive, Karen Handel, soon became an ex-Komen executive. She wrote a book, Planned Bullyhood, in an attempt to set the already-cloudy record straight. From Politifact, September 25, 2012:
“Some critics suggested Handel was behind Komen’s policy decision. But in her book, Handel says Komen had considered ending the relationship with Planned Parenthood ‘for at least a decade,’ as Komen restructured its grant model to focus on measurable outcomes to fighting breast cancer. That focus, she said, excluded much of what Planned Parenthood did.
“In her book, Handel makes pointed statements regarding Planned Parenthood’s services, noting that the organization promoted itself as a provider of mammograms to poor women.
“‘The truth is, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms,’ she wrote. ‘Planned Parenthood refers women to mammography providers, serving as the middlewoman, if you will.'”
Today, Komen affiliates are free to give grants to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is still not a breast cancer research organization, nor does it provide mammograms.