For Primary Day: Notes on Jane Cormier

Jane Cormier is on the GOP ballot for Executive Council district 4 (Manchester and 18 towns) on Tuesday, September 12. I recall interviewing her for another race four years ago. Here are some excerpts.

Jane Cormier’s neighbors elected her to the state legislature in 2012. She earned the Republican nomination for the seat the hard way, defeating an incumbent. She did it as a political newcomer, in a year when many GOP candidates were clobbered. Not a conventional candidate, by any measure. Proudly pro-life, too.

This was no “stealth” candidate. Jane Cormier was (and is) right up front about who she is and what she believes. “Being outspoken, telling the truth, has no ‘R’ or ‘D’ attached.”

…In her first year in office, she sponsored a bill to strengthen informed consent requirements for women seeking abortion [and] she was among the most committed legislative opponents of the buffer zone bill.

…Jane Cormier doesn’t mince words, and some of her fellow Republicans aren’t sure what to make of that. “If you are assertive, you are branded as a bomb-thrower. I’ve been called that more than a few times. I am someone who’s trying to get back to the Founding documents.”

“A fellow Republican told me I was [annoying people]. And I said to him, when do we push back? If we have a situation where it’s plain and simple, what is being said is wrong, is untruthful, we are not supposed to address it? And if it’s not me, who? And on the life issue, when do we push back? You shouldn’t be afraid to address it. It’s part of the platform.”

…I asked her what she’s proudest of from her term in the House. “That I would stand in my principles, no matter how much somebody pushed back. My principles do not move. Reaching across the aisle does not mean giving up the farm.

“My job is to fight for the race and let God do the rest.”

Executive Council district 4 is currently represented by Chris Pappas (D-Manchester), who is leaving the Council to run for Congress. District 4 includes Manchester and the towns of Allenstown, Auburn, Barrington, Bedford, Bow, Candia, Chichester, Deerfield, Epsom, Goffstown, Hooksett, Lee, Londonderry, Loudon, Northwood, Nottingham, Pembroke, and Pittsfield.

Freedom of (some) information: SCOTUS rejects hearing on NHRTL case

DSCF9895The Supreme Court of the United States giveth, and the Supreme Court taketh away, and sometimes the Supreme Court says “go away.” An important New Hampshire case got the go-away treatment on November 16, as the Court declined to hear New Hampshire Right to Life v. Department of Health and Human Services. 

As my constitutional law professor stressed to me years ago, “A decision not to make a decision is still a decision.” This one went the wrong way.

NHRTL president Jane Cormier said, ““We would have been thrilled if the U.S. Supreme Court had taken on our case. NHRTL has been very concerned with the lack of transparency within the Obama administration. Despite the fact the NH Executive Council voted down the funding of PPPNE in 2011, US Health and Human Services chose to fund Planned Parenthood without going through proper state approval or even follow federal regulations requiring competitive bidding.”

Jane Cormier, NHRTL President (E. Kolb photo)
Jane Cormier, NHRTL President (E. Kolb photo)

This was effectively a victory for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which since 2011 has fought efforts by New Hampshire residents to find out how a federal grant to PPNNE seemed to appear out of nowhere after the New Hampshire Executive Council in June 2011 denied a PP contract proposal. NHRTL sought documents under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to find out how the federal grant was made. PP produced some of the requested documents, with parts redacted. It refused to produce others – in particular, its Manual of Medical Standards and Guidelines. FOIA grants exemptions for “trade secrets” and material that could harm a party in a future competitive bidding process, and PP successfully claimed that the Manual falls under that exemption.


By the way, NHRTL’s FOIA request for the Manual was not out of line. PP had to produce its Manual to the government in order to get the federal grant – a point made by two Justices who dissented from yesterday’s announcement.

It would have taken four out the nine Supreme Court justices to accept the case. Normally, denials are made without comment. In this case, though, Justice Clarence Thomas took the trouble to publish his reasons for wanting to grant a hearing, and he was joined by Justice Antonin Scalia. They are troubled by conflicting lower-court rulings in FOIA cases about documents that are exempt from release. “The First Circuit’s decision warrants review. It perpetuates an unsupported interpretation of an important federal statute and further muddies an already amorphous test. For these reasons, I respectfully dissent from the denial of certiorari.” (See the PDF of Justice Thomas’s remarks at page ten of this link at supremecourt.gov.)

Neither Thomas nor Scalia took the side of one party over the other. They simply pointed out that lower courts in FOIA cases around the country have made conflicting rulings about what can be exempted from FOIA requests. That’s the sort of situation that normally makes a case ripe for Supreme Court review. I wonder if the Court would have taken the NHRTL case if the names of the parties had been different.

Alliance Defending Freedom, which with local attorney Michael Tierney represented NHRTL in court, released a statement after this week’s Court action. “HHS says it can’t release the documents because doing so might affect Planned Parenthood’s ‘competitive position’ if it faces a commercial grant competitor in the future. HHS also refused to produce information about its own debates over how to sell the controversial decision to the public.”

A related but separate petition arising from the 2011 Executive Council decision is pending before the New Hampshire Supreme Court, New Hampshire Right to Life and Jackie Pelletier v. New Hampshire Director of Charitable Trusts Office (docket #2015-0366).

“New Hampshire’s Executive Council recently voted to again eliminate state funding for Planned Parenthood,” noted Cormier. “We will need to be vigilant to ensure this type of back-door unaccountable funding does not occur again.”

Meanwhile, as it did in 2011, PP blames the Executive Council for attacking women’s health care by denying PP a contract a few months ago. It’ll be interesting to see PP’s 2015 financial statements, which should reveal how much or how little PP is shifting its priorities away from public policy ($1.5 million in 2014, plus a lobbyist’s salary) and towards clinical care.

NH rallies for an end to taxpayer funding of PP

It was called the #WomenBetrayed rally – one of more than fifty rallies held nationwide on July 28, calling for a halt to tax money for Planned Parenthood. In Concord, New Hampshire, the theme was given point by an urgent consideration: the state’s Executive Council is expected to take up a Planned Parenthood contract soon.

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Jane Cormier (r) of New Hampshire Right to Life greets attendees at Concord’s Women Betrayed rally.
Susan Olsen
Susan Olsen

“If we believe in New Hampshire values, if we believe in Live Free or Die even before birth, every one of you needs to get on the Internet and find out the name and the contact details of your Executive Councilor. These five gentlemen control the fate of Planned Parenthood [in] New Hampshire,” said Susan Olsen of Warner. “We have an opportunity, everyone on these grounds today, to make an immediate difference in stopping feeding the beast.” She was one of several speakers urging contact with Councilor Chris Sununu, a potential swing vote, who has supported Planned Parenthood in earlier contract votes. “Let’s change that gentleman’s mind.”

A coalition of national prolife groups planned one rally in Washington in response to the video exposés of Planned Parenthood. (A third video, more nauseating than the first two, was released today by the Center for Medical Progress.) The idea spread, with local groups sponsoring rallies in various cities. On July 28, rallies all over the country sent the message: get Planned Parenthood out of the taxpayers’ pockets. Defund PP. Privatize PP.

New Hampshire’s rally coalition was led by New Hampshire Right to Life, with president Jane Cormier serving as master of ceremonies. On a sweltering day, she welcomed about 150 people to the State House plaza in Concord. Alluding to the CMP videos, she said, “We need no longer have any fear in taking up that debate” about Planned Parenthood funding. “No more fear. Don’t let anyone shut your voice down.”

NH Executive Councilor David Wheeler
NH Executive Councilor David Wheeler

Executive Councilor Dave Wheeler updated the ralliers about the pending Executive Council vote. While the next Council meeting is August 5, it’s not a sure thing that PP will be on the agenda for a family planning contract. “[The Health and Human Services] Commissioner tells me there are proposals coming from 3, 4 or 5 different contractors for these services. And remember what happened in 2011 when Councilors Wieczorek, St. Hilaire & I voted against the Planned Parenthood funding, the federal government sent money directly to Planned Parenthood and went around the state of New Hampshire. So that possibility is out there as well.”

If the August 5 agenda includes PP, “You can rest assured that I will not vote to give Planned Parenthood that contract. We’re starting to get these nice notes from Planned Parenthood here, they’ve got flowers on them, and a sticker, and they say ‘don’t defund women’s services.’ You know, it’s kind of funny that they’re embarrassed to say ‘don’t defund abortion.’ They won’t say it, but that’s what our issue is. We’re not against cancer screenings and the other things. Just stop doing the evil, and maybe we could support the good you do.”

A gallery from the Concord #WomenBetrayed rally:

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Rep. Susan DeLemus

Rep. Sue DeLemus (R-Rochester) shared the story of her own abortion.  “I’m sorry we don’t don’t have people [here] in protest today of our movement. Those people are the people I want to reach the most. … I went ahead and had my baby killed. I know I’ve been forgiven, but it still hurts like hell. I hope you all take away from this that’s it’s still painful to me, and painful for any women who decides to kill her baby. And if Planned Parenthood was here today, I would look them right in the eye and say shame on you. Do you hear me, Planned Parenthood? I just want this message to get out.”

Ann Marie Banfield
Ann Marie Banfield

Ann Marie Banfield, Cornerstone Action: “Cornerstone is 100% behind de-funding Planned Parenthood. It’s very important that you watch the unedited videos so that you can be aware of what’s going on. What they do with their money is their business. But what they do with OUR money is OUR business.”

 

 

 

 

 

Father Christian Tutor
Father Christian Tutor

Father Christian Tutor OSA, rector, All Saints Anglican Church in Concord, reflected on the jarring effect of the “Civility and Compassion” sign on display at a nearby abortion facility. “About six months ago, I was privileged to go to Poland and visit Auschwitz. There was a display that had I don’t know how much human hair that was taken and shaved from all of those who had been killed in the death camps. And information given at that time by the guide was that the Nazis didn’t consider the people they killed as human. They were not human. So of course they [the Nazis] would use as much of the person as possible to gain more money and to make it worthwhile. So hair was made into blankets. We know that a lot of these people who were killed were used in experiments, horrible experiments that led to their death. There was human skin also taken from these victims, made into leather that were turned into shades for lamps. Now we know all of this. Now what is the difference, my dear people, between what happened in Nazi Germany and what is happening today under the auspices of Planned Parenthood? Nothing. That is exactly what Planned Parenthood is doing. Civility. Compassion. Do you see that civility and compassion for the unborn? What do we do, then? Stand on the sidelines, like so many people of good will at the time of the Nazis, and not proclaim the horror that we see? Or are we going to be counted among the righteous who stand up and say ‘no more’? We have to help our brothers and sisters, we have to point out to all those who support planned Parenthood that it is no different what they are doing than what was done in Nazi Germany. That we do it with compassion and civility – but we also point out that if they truly value compassion and civility that the proclaim by their placards on their front lawn, that they would give to those unborn persons, the human being within the womb, a chance to live.”

 

William O'Brien
William O’Brien

Former Speaker of the New Hampshire House, William O’Brien: “Planned Parenthood is dragging us into a culture of death. It is offensive that they make us complicit. This cannot stand. What can we do? … [Our job is] contributing to pro-life organizations…. Ensuring that pro-life candidates are elected to federal and state offices. It is telling Executive Councilor Sununu not to give our taxes, more money, to the merchants of death such as Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Let us join this fight; let us win this fight.”

Hillary Seeger
Hillary Seeger

Hillary Seeger, who chose adoption for her son and was able to reunite with him 21 years later: “You need to look at a picture of my son and his wife – his pregnant wife – and my granddaughter, and you need to realize that if I had gone to Planned Parenthood, it [wouldn’t have been] one abortion. It was three lives just right there. Please think. My son is not ‘tissue.’ Nobody’s son or daughter is ‘tissue.’ Go forward and lobby to de-fund this.”

 

 

 

DSCF9615Rep. Josh Moore (R-Merrrimack): “There are a lot of young people out here who have a special role in this. A new generation willing to rise up and fight this thing to the core. We will fight to destroy this evil as it stands. It is seriously ironic that Planned Parenthood has destroyed themselves. They have admitted that this baby is worth something for parts. It’s a disgusting thing, but they’ve actually just destroyed themselves.

This is the first thing in the Declaration of Independence: life. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We can’t pursue happiness if we don’t stand up for life. Consider running for public office. Take this thing back. We own this thing. We’ve got this. We will win. Let’s go out and fight, ladies and gentlemen.”

 

 

 


 

Mentioned on WSMN 1590 AM, “We Hold These Truths,” 4/30/15

My thanks to Karen Testerman who invited me to be her guest host. Here are links to the organizations and projects I discussed with guest Jane Cormier of New Hampshire Right to Life.

New Hampshire Right to Life Committee

Information about NHRTL Open House, Saturday , May 2FOIA case appealed to U.S. Supreme Court

Piccola Opera

Also on the air: information about Cornerstone Policy Research banquet, May 12 in Manchester


Scenes from NH March for Life 2015 (gallery)

The temperature barely broke into double digits as people filled the State House plaza in Concord for a pro-life rally before the March for Life on January 17. This is January in New Hampshire, though, and more than 300 people had gathered by the time the rally began. Dozens more joined during the course of the march, and the post-march gathering at St. John the Evangelist church featured an overflow crowd.

The day’s events were organized by the New Hampshire Right to Life Committee, led by president Jane Cormier.