Down for the Count: Life-Issue Bills in N.H. House

The twice-delayed vote on a bill to prevent abortion of viable pre-born children finally came on March 21. HB 1680 was tabled in the New Hampshire House on a 170-163 vote. A committee’s recommendation of “ought to pass” on HB 1680 was never debated. The roll call for the tabling motion is thus what we have to go by, to figure out where state representatives stood on the bill.

A vote in favor of the tabling motion was effectively a vote to kill HB 1680. Tabling meant no debate, aside from the speeches masquerading as “parliamentary inquiries.” An attempt to remove the bill from the table and open it up for debate failed later in the day.

You can look up your reps and how they voted on HB 1680. Keep in mind that a “Yea” vote was a vote in favor of the tabling motion, not a vote in favor of the bill.

On the same day, the Abortion Information Act (HB 1707) was voted to Interim Study.  Translation: it’s dead. Voice vote, no roll call. The bill on coerced abortion (HB 1721) was killed on an Inexpedient to Legislate motion, 237-100.

Three bills, three different motions, same results. Put these on the spike along with conscience protection (Inexpedient to Legislate, 218-109 on March 15) and abortion statistics (ITL, 200-154 on January 3).

This is all spreadsheet material, and I’ll compile it before the filing period in June. That’s when people who want to run for state representative later this year will pay their two bucks to the town clerk to make it official.

Notes on the HB 1680 vote

Opposing the tabling motion were 158 Republicans, joined by two Libertarians (Caleb Dyer and Brandon Phinney) and three Democrats (Roger Berube, Jesse Martineau, and Barbara Shaw).

Joining 148 Democrats in voting to table the bill were one Libertarian (Joseph Stallcop) and 21 Republicans: Francis Chase, Chris Christensen, Karel Crawford, Stephen Darrow, Carolyn Gargasz, John Graham, James Grenier, Bonnie Ham, Peter Hansen, Erin Hennessey, Phyllis Katsakiores, John Lewicke, Betsy McKinney, Russell Ober, Mark Proulx, Andrew Prout, Skip Rollins, Frank Sapareto, Franklin Sterling, Robert Theberge, and Brenda Willis.

Speaker Gene Chandler was present during the day but was absent for the HB 1680 vote, turning the gavel over to Deputy Speaker Sherman Packard.

Absences: there were 38 “excused” absences, according to the House roll call, and 20 “Not Voting.”  The latter indicates an unexcused absence. It could mean a rep simply took a walk rather than go on record. Those 58 missing reps loom large in the context of a 170-163 vote.

N.H. House Votes Approaching

Update: a heavy House agenda and a session-shortening snowstorm have moved the votes on these bills to Wednesday, March 21, 2018. This will be the second delay for the vote. The deadline for the House to act on the bill is close of the business day on March 22.

Tuesday, March 6, begins what might be a three-day session for the New Hampshire House. The representatives have an agenda that’s about 150 pages long. And yes, there’s a snowstorm in the forecast, as if the schedule weren’t already dicey enough.

Among the bills to be voted on are HB 1680, the Viable Fetus Protection Act; HB 1787, conscience rights for medical professionals; HB 1707, abortion information/informed consent; HB 1721, a ban on coerced abortions.

No, it’s not too late to email your reps. Many of them have smartphones that they use to to check email and text messages during the House session.

Today’s civics lesson: Find your state representatives’ email address via this link on the General Court (legislature) web site. There are phone numbers for each rep as well; some are cell numbers and some are landlines. If you recognize a cell number, use it for a text message Tuesday morning, March 6. Don’t call at unsocial hours (some people have to be reminded of that).

Send a separate message for each bill. In an email, pack the basic message into the subject line in case that’s all the rep has time to read. When writing to your own district’s reps, be sure to mention your town. A subject line might be “Yes on HB 1680, from a [town name] resident.” Keep the message short and courteous (again, some people need to be reminded; present company excepted, I’m sure).

I’ll be monitoring the House session online, and you can, too, if you’re so inclined. Look for the Streaming Media link on the General Court web site.

Trust Women, You Say? Start Here

A New Hampshire legislative committee had a hearing this week on a proposal for a bill on informed consent for abortion. I was only able to stay for the first hour, by which time the room was still filled to capacity with people anxious to go on record.

I signed the blue sheet familiar to Legislative Office Building regulars, noting that I was in favor of the bill and did not wish to speak. By the time my hour at the hearing was up, there was plenty I wished to speak about.

Anyone can read the text of HB 1707. In summary, the bill sets up requirements for information abortion providers need to give an abortion-minded woman, and it sets up a 24-hour reflection period between the time a woman receives the information and has the abortion or takes the abortion prescription. The 24-hour provision would be waived in cases of medical emergency.

It also gives a woman the right to know 24 hours in advance who’s going to be performing the abortion.

Last time I checked, roughly two dozen states had reflection periods in effect for abortion, ranging from 18 to 72 hours, as part of informed consent for abortion. Even in Texas, some of whose laws were struck down in the Hellerstadt case that established women’s right to substandard medical care, a 24-hour waiting period is on the books. Such laws, properly drafted, have been consistent with Roe for a long time now. This is not groundbreaking healthcare policy. But this is New Hampshire, as Gosnell-friendly a place as one could find, and HB 1707 faces an uphill battle.

One provision of the bill that apparently shocked a committee member – a physician, as it happens – says that no abortion provider gets paid before the woman has had the 24 hours to review the information about the procedure. “Not even a co-pay?” he enquired of one of the bill’s co-sponsors.

That’s right. Not even a co-pay, if the bill means what its plain language says.

As the legislator-physician asked about the co-pay, I thought of Catherine Adair‘s description of her work at Planned Parenthood in Boston: “The first thing – the first thing – that happens in an abortion clinic is the money changes hands. You’re not getting anywhere until you pay for that abortion.”

Another physician, who comes faithfully to every hearing on every bill he perceives as threatening Roe v. Wade, was present to tell the committee, “I’m listening to a lot of people [at the hearing] who don’t trust women and don’t trust the medical system.”

Trust women. Makes as much sense as trust men. Which ones? To do what? What about the three women who co-sponsored HB 1707? What about me?

I’ll give him full marks for speculating about not trusting the medical system, though. I have tremendous respect for the technical skills of health care professionals, and the potential such people have to make the world a better place. There are individual providers who have earned my trust. But trust a “system” with my health? Trust the “system” that has endorsed a public policy that says women are inherently broken and need to be fixed? Trust people for whom abortion – and assisted suicide, for that matter – are considered “health care”?

No.

More from the doctor: rates of pregnancy terminations “have dropped dramatically.” Not by New Hampshire’s measure, since New Hampshire does not collect abortion statistics, which this doctor knows perfectly well.

I heard in that hour more than a few deferential remarks about health care professionals who do abortions. As I expected, I heard criticism that the bill refers to abortion providers as “physicians,” which leaves out the nurse-practitioners who do the job.

In that first hour, no one – nary a sponsor, committee member, or member of the public – mentioned the fact that New Hampshire has no restriction on who may perform abortions. There is no requirement for medical background or training or certification.

If anyone on the committee wishes to change that, HB 1707 provides the opportunity. The committee could amend it to add nurse-practitioners. Then again, perhaps a majority of committee members prefer the status quo, and all the talk about how abortions are safely performed by medical personnel is so much sand in our eyes.

The bill is silent on certification and licensing of abortion facilities, but testimony and committee questions brought it up anyway. Maybe the committee members got the information they needed from someone who spoke after I left, but I’m going to put this in writing and send it to the committee anyway: this is from a New Hampshire Sunday News article from May 19, 2013 (reported in an earlier post), written in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell trial:

“Kris Neilsen, communications director for the state Department of Health and Human Services, explained in an email that abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood and the Concord Feminist Health Center are exempt from state licensing and inspection requirements because they are considered physician offices. Twenty-three health care providers such as hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, and dialysis centers are licensed by the state, but not abortion clinics. ‘In New Hampshire, there is no such thing as an abortion clinic – the majority of abortions are done in doctors offices … and doctors’ offices are exempt from licensure under RSA 151:2 II,’ Neilsen said. ‘Because they are exempt, we have no jurisdiction over them, and neither does anyone else.'”

The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs committee will vote on the bill within a few weeks.

Resistance to prenatal ultrasounds is “non-negotiable”?

Pro-life Democrats are getting some national attention this week, courtesy of a party leader.

The Washington Post has a commentary by Adam Blake about a declaration this week by the Democratic National Committee chairman, Thomas Perez. The occasion for Mr. Perez’s outburst was concern over a  Democratic candidate in Nebraska.

DNC chairman Tom Perez

Perez: “Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”

Abortion on demand, without apology, and at your expense – but wait! There’s more. The occasion for Mr. Perez’s ire, according to the Post, was the fact that the Nebraska candidate “supported a bill requiring doctors to tell women where they can receive ultrasounds before obtaining an abortion.” Continue reading “Resistance to prenatal ultrasounds is “non-negotiable”?”

A concerned Republican & Sununu’s reply

I got an email yesterday that would have gone straight into the trash file if not for the name of the sender. The subject line: “Why conservatives should vote for Chris Sununu for Governor.” I’m a pro-life voter, not necessarily a conservative or a party’s member. Then I saw the name of the sender: Ovide Lamontagne.

Ovide Lamontagne speaking to Manchester 40DFL volunteers
Ovide Lamontagne speaking to Manchester 40DFL volunteers

I have the utmost respect for Ovide. He’s a New Hampshire neighbor and a longtime pro-life advocate. He’s also a high-profile Republican. He is not a fan of the recent ad by GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu.  He had a conversation with Sununu about it, resulting in the correspondence below, which as you will see was meant to be made public.

Here are two messages which must be read together for full effect. Make of them what you will.  They might not change your view of candidate Sununu – I remain unmoved – but I think enough of Ovide to share his message. I also think Sununu’s reply should be kept handy for future reference.

I’m trying hard not to editorialize here, but the following points drown out my best intentions.

  • Sununu’s reassurances are preceded by his claim that he has always opposed taxpayer funding of abortion. He apparently thinks funding abortion providers is something different. Again, make of that what you will.
  • The gubernatorial campaign of underdog Max Abramson goes unmentioned in this correspondence save for one oblique reference in Chris Sununu’s statement.
  • I’m a firm believer in defensive elections. I’ve voted for candidates just because they’re less awful than their opponents. It riles me, though, when a candidate hands my money to abortion providers and then basically tells me that he’s my only logical choice at the polls.
  • The GOP/Dem and conservative/liberal frame of reference does not resonate with this pro-life voter. I’ve spent too much time at the State House watching “conservatives” kill pro-life legislation and grant contracts to abortion providers.

But enough commentary. The following correspondence is unedited.


Email from Ovide Lamontagne, November 4, 2016

Dear Friends:

I hope this email finds you well.

Like many of you, I approach the next few days leading into the November 8th general election with great anticipation and energy.  It is fair to say that our Primary process has led to the nomination of an interesting slate of federal and state candidates.  I firmly believe that, on balance, the Republican ticket holds the best chance of advancing an agenda which more closely reflects our values and the best interests of New Hampshire and the Nation.

Regarding the campaign for Governor, I encourage New Hampshire conservatives to vote for Chris Sununu.  Like many of my conservative friends, I was angry and disillusioned when Chris changed his position and voted to fund Planned Parenthood this past Summer.  There is simply no justification in my mind for allowing one cent of taxpayer money to be contributed to an abortion provider, especially one as notorious and as sinister as Planned Parenthood.

Even though he knew how I felt about his vote and his stated position on Life, shortly after winning his Primary, Chris called me to discuss his views on a host of conservative issues and specifically asked me to help him understand what pro-life initiatives I thought he could support.  As we discussed a number of these issues, he explained his opposition to late term and partial birth abortion; his support of conscience rights for health care workers; his view that the buffer zone law should be repealed; and his belief that abortion providers should be held to the same health and safety standards applicable to healthcare facilities such as ambulatory surgical centers and providers.  While he supports a women’s ability to have an abortion during the earlier stages of pregnancy, he said he strongly disagrees with the extremist views of Colin Van Ostern who has the full-throated endorsement of Planned Parenthood’s New Hampshire Action Fund.  Among other things, Van Ostern supports abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy for any reason; opposes common sense health and safety standards for abortion clinics; and given the chance, I believe he would support taxpayer funding of abortion, the official position of Planned Parenthood nationally (i.e., they want to repeal the Hyde Amendment).

I asked Chris to memorialize his support for some of the common sense measures we discussed since the Primary.  Please find attached a copy of a letter he recently sent me setting forth the pro-life initiatives he would support as Governor.  While I strongly disagree with Chris on his vote to fund Planned Parenthood and his pro-choice position, I do believe that if elected Chris will indeed advance a constitutional and common-sense pro-life agenda, something that hasn’t happened in NH from the Corner Office in years.

On other issues, Chris is where we need the next Governor to be:  he supports Right to Work and designing a NH solution regarding expanding healthcare coverage, not a Washington-mandated “permanent” Medicaid expansion program; he opposes Common Core and the federal government’s overreach in elementary and secondary education; and he opposes the establishment of a job-killing state minimum wage and rejects the false promise of taxpayer-funded commuter rail.  He’ll bring conservative leaders into his administration and I believe he will create an environment for robust economic development, reversing almost 20 years of liberal Governors presiding over economic stagnation in the Granite State.

When I consider what is at stake in this election — and despite my disagreements with Chris Sununu on some issues which are very important to me, and I know are important to you — I believe that conservatives and all NH citizens will still be much better served with Chris in the Corner Office than Colin Van Ostern.  This is not even a close call.

Please let me know if you have any questions or observations about supporting Chris Sununu for Governor.  I hope you will join me in voting for Chris so that together we can begin to set New Hampshire on the right track.

If you are inclined to do so, I would also ask you to forward this email and the attached letter to your email lists and/or to publish both through social media.

All the best,

Ovide


From Chris Sununu, attached to Lamontagne email as a PDF on campaign letterhead, undated

Dear Ovide,

Download (PDF, 452KB)

Thank you for your support and assistance in trying to get New Hampshire back on the right track. I appreciate our recent conversations discussing my ad response to the Democrats’ multimillion dollar media campaign accusing me of being against Medicaid funding of cancer screenings for women and pre-natal care. Their ads are blatantly dishonest.

As you know, I have always opposed taxpayer funding of abortions. It is important for conservative voters to know that I too support many of the common sense platform initiatives that they want to see passed including:

1. Fetal Homicide Bill

2. Women’s Health Protection Act

3. Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act

4. Late Term Abortion Ban

5. NH Buffer Zone Repeal

I know that my winning the race for Governor will be our best chance to get this important work done.

It is important to remind people that there are only two real choices in this race. By voting for me the voters can undo the liberal left-wing agenda that Democrats have imposed on New Hampshire over the past twenty years. Thank you again for your advice, your guidance and your support.

/s/ Chris

Christopher T. Sununu