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.


 

Fortnight for Freedom 2017

Fortnight for Freedom is back for 2017, running from today until Independence Day. This project of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is for everyone.

Religion [cannot] be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life. –Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium

Watch for Fortnight for Freedom (F4F) posts on Leaven’s Facebook and Twitter feeds during the next two weeks.

From the Leaven for the Loaf archives:

The Supreme Court’s marriage decision came down during F4F 2015, leaving more religious liberty questions than before

F4F 2016: SCOTUS refuses to hear conscientious objection claims from pharmacists

F4F 2014: In wake of Hobby Lobby decision, religious leaders call for protection of Religious Freedom Restoration Act 

On (not) keeping religion out of politics 

F4F 2013: Bishop Joseph Libasci open F4F in New Hampshire

“Planned Bullyhood” Author Wins as Georgia Voters Send Handel to Congress

As of 10:30 p.m. on June 20, the Associated Press is reporting that Karen Handel has been elected to Congress from Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Handel, a Republican, appears to have edged Democrat Jon Ossoff after a campaign that reportedly cost in aggregate about $50 million.

From my April post about Handel’s candidacy:

You’ll recall Handel as the ex-Susan G. Komen exec who probably still has Planned Parenthood’s tire marks all over her back.

In 2012, Handel was senior vice-president of public policy for Komen, a charity supporting research into breast cancer and ways to prevent it. The Komen leadership announced it would stop giving grants to Planned Parenthood, since PP’s work did not advance the Komen mission. No hard feelings on Komen’s part; this was strictly a business decision.

Planned Parenthood immediately went into full punishment mode. PP’s public attacks on Komen, including false claims that Komen was abandoning women, resulted in Komen caving in after only three days. Shame on them, then and now. Handel’s job was among the casualties as Komen attempted damage control.

Handel responded accordingly, with a book she called Planned Bullyhood. As an insider’s view of the 2012 situation, it’s unmatched.

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.