Governor Signs Fetal Homicide Law as Families Look On

Sarah and Griffin’s Law has been signed. I was determined to see this happen, in person. I wouldn’t believe it otherwise.

Gov. Chris Sununu signs Sarah and Griffin’s Law, June 30, 2017, as chief sponsor Sen. Regina Birdsell (green blazer) watches.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed SB 66 on June 30, and now the fetal homicide measure will be known as Sarah and Griffin’s Law. It will go into effect January 1, 2018.

At that time, prosecutors will have the option of bringing a homicide charge against a person whose violent actions cause the death of a preborn child at or after 20 weeks’ gestation, against the will of the mother.

Fetal homicide was one of the first topics I tackled on this blog. I haven’t shut up about it, actually. The state Supreme Court’s 2009 plea in the Lamy case has never been far from my mind. Overturning a drunk driver’s homicide conviction for killing a child who died from injuries sustained in utero by the drunk driver’s actions, the Court told the legislature it would have to update state law in order for such a charge to stick.

Finally, the legislature and a governor have answered the Supreme Court with something other than “meh.”

Moms Deana Crucitti & Ashlyn Rideout (front); dads Nathan Crucitti & Daniel Kenison (rear middle & right) after SB 66 was signed into law.

The families of Griffin Kenison and Sarah Crucitti were at the Governor’s side as he signed the law. Their extended families, children included, filled the Executive Council chamber. Some held photos of Griffin and Sarah.

Sarah’s mother Deana Crucitti and Griffin’s mother Ashlyn Rideout embraced before the ceremony. I started to take a photo of them and then backed off.  In the middle of that crowded room, it was an unmistakably private moment.

Three generations of Griffin’s family were there, including “Grammy Shirley,” who told me with deep emotion three years ago “we’re on a crusade.” 

It was a year ago yesterday that then-Executive Councilor Sununu switched his vote and voted “Yea” on a state contract with abortion providers – a contract that the Council had rejected with his help a few months earlier.

It’s been seven months since a concerned pro-life Republican challenged the self-identified “pro-choice” gubernatorial candidate Sununu, asking him what pro-life initiatives he could support. The candidate responded by writing that he could support five in particular. (Text of the letter is at the bottom of this link.)

Fetal homicide was #1 on the list.

I give him credit for keeping his word.

I give credit to Leon Rideout, Sen. Regina Birdsell, Rep. Kathy Souza (who has worked for a fetal homicide bill for more than 20 years), and all the legislators who co-sponsored fetal homicide bills over the years.

I give credit to Ovide Lamontagne, who last year elicited Chris Sununu’s written support for fetal homicide legislation.

I give credit to retired Supreme Court Justice James Duggan, author of the Lamy decision, who placed the ball squarely in the legislature’s court eight years ago.

I give most of the credit to the families who lost their children and who came to Concord again and again to tell their stories.

When former Rep. Leon Rideout, Griffin’s grandfather, introduced a fetal homicide bill in 2014, I covered the hearings. There I met family members including Griffin’s aunt Robin. We spoke today after the signing.

“I didn’t think I’d live to see this day,” I told her. I wasn’t kidding.

She gave me a no-nonsense look. “Shame on you.” She wasn’t kidding, either.

Lesson learned: never give up.


 

House and Senate Approve SB 66 Amendment

Update to recent post: In the final legislative session of 2017, the New Hampshire House and Senate accepted an amendment to SB 66 to correct a drafting error. The bill still has the 20-week provision that drew the ire this month of some pro-life activists.

Barring yet another unexpected detour, the next stop for the fetal homicide bill should be Governor Sununu’s desk. Given his expression of support for such legislation, signing this one ought to be easy. I’ll certainly encourage him to do so. His office phone number is 603-271-2121.

 

 

Situational Personhood

During the debate preceding the recent vote on the fetal homicide bill, one New Hampshire state representative made her way to the House gallery to hand me a thick bundle of stapled papers. She pointed out the top page to me, and then left without further comment to take her seat on the House floor.

The bundle was an amendment to a Commerce bill that had just been voted on. The topic was trusts, basically property, and the protection and conveyance thereof. Check out the words that pass without controversy when the subject is trusts.

Unborn person.
Ironically, at the moment I read that, a representative was making a speech cautioning that a fetal homicide law would confer personhood on the fetus. No word on whether she takes issue with the term “unborn person” as it applies to trust law.

Legislation addressing unborn victims of violence is not personhood legislation. If it were, with nearly 40 states and the federal government having one or another form of a fetal homicide law, Roe v. Wade would have been kicked to the curb long ago.

The irony meter jumped up another notch as the omigosh-not-personhood politician at the microphone switched between “fetus” and “baby” as she spoke against the bill.

I’d like to think she’s teetering on the edge of a revelation, for all her thus-far adamant abortion advocacy.

 

Postscript to House vote on SB 66: the Naysayers

Steve MacDonald over at Granite Grok was blunter than I after the SB 66 vote in the House: “NH Democrats Defend the Right to End a Woman’s Pregnancy Against Her Will.” That’s harsh, but tough to refute, especially in view of all of the day’s roll calls on the bill – not just the main one.

As promised in my report on the SB 66 vote in the New Hampshire House, here’s the list of state representatives who made it clear that they want no part of anyone’s fetal homicide bill.  Two Republicans and one Libertarian are on the list along with 141 Democrats.

One can argue that there was no single “clean” vote among any of the six roll calls on the bill. Using all six, though, it’s fair to assess opposition to the concept of fetal homicide in general and SB 66 in particular. Each of these reps:

The representatives are listed below by county. All are Democrats except for Libertarian Joseph Stallcop and Republicans Carolyn Gargasz and Neal Kurk.

Belknap County

David Huot.

Carroll County

Thomas Buco, Edward Butler, Jerry Knirk.

Cheshire County

Michael Abbott, Richard Ames, Paul Berch, John Bordenet, Daniel Eaton, Barry Faulkner, Donovan Fenton, Cathryn Harvey, Douglas Ley, John Mann, David Meader, Henry Parkhurst, William Pearson, Marjorie Shepardson, Joseph Stallcop, Bruce Tatro, Lucy Weber.

Coos County

Larry Laflamme, Wayne Moynihan, Yvonne Thomas, Edith Tucker.

Grafton County

Susan Almy, Polly Campion, Roger Dontonville, Patricia Higgins, Timothy Josephson, Kevin Maes, Mary Jane Mulligan, Sharon Nordgren, Steven Rand, Suzanne Smith, George Sykes, Andrew White.

Hillsborough County

Jessica Ayala, Robert Backus, Jane Beaulieu, Amanda Bouldin, Shannon Chandley, Skip Cleaver, Patricia Cornell, David Cote, Daniel Sullivan, Linda DiSilvestro, Joel Elber, Armand Forest, Mary Freitas, Carolyn Gargasz, Ken Gidge, Jeff Goley, Suzanne Harvey, Mary Heath, Christopher Herbert, Janice Schmidt, Marty Jack, Amelia Keane, Mark King, Patricia Klee, Neal Kurk, Peter Leishman, David Lisle, Mark MacKenzie, Latha Mangipudi, Jonathan Manley, Joelle Martin, Richard McNamara, Michael O’Brien, Richard O’Leary, Patrick Long, Marjorie Porter, Carol Roberts, Cindy Rosenwald, Kendall Snow, Catherine Sofikitis, Timothy Smith, Robert Walsh, Connie Van Houten, Kermit Williams.

Merrimack County

Caroletta Alicea, Christy Bartlett, Clyde Carson, David Doherty, Karen Ebel, Mary Gile, Howard Moffett, Paul Henle, James MacKay, Linda Kenison, David Luneau, Mel Myler, Chip Rice, Beth Rodd, Katherine Rogers, Dianne Schuett, Steve Shurtleff,  Alan Turcotte, Mary Beth Walz, David Woolpert.

Rockingham County

Debra Altschiller, Skip Berrien, Michael Cahill, Jacqueline Cali-Pitts, Renny Cushing, Charlotte DiLorenzo, Michael Edgar, Paula Francese, Tamara Le, Dennis Malloy, Rebecca McBeath, Mindi Messmer, Kate Murray, Pamela Gordon, Ellen Read, Peter Somssich, Gerald Ward.

Strafford County

Peter Bixby, Wayne Burton, Jacalyn Cilley, Donna Ellis, Isaac Epstein, Sherry Frost, Chuck Grassie, Timothy Horrigan, Sandra Keans, Hamilton Krans, Marjorie Smith, Lin Opderbecke, Peter Schmidt, Jeff Salloway, Catt Sandler, Judith Spang, Dale Sprague, Kenneth Vincent, Janet Wall.

Sullivan County

John Cloutier, Raymond Gagnon, Suzanne Gottling, Virginia Irwin, Lee Oxenham, Andrew Schmidt, Linda Tanner.


N.H. House Approves Fetal Homicide Bill, SB 66

After lengthy debate and four preliminary roll call votes, the New Hampshire House on June 1 voted 186-170 to approve fetal homicide legislation. SB 66 now goes back to the Senate for expected concurrence with a House amendment. From there, the Governor’s desk awaits.

Roll call on SB 66, main motion of Ought to Pass with Amendment

I need to write some thank-yous to my reps. Maybe you do, too.  Continue reading “N.H. House Approves Fetal Homicide Bill, SB 66”