The First Amendment and would-be Sen. Hassan

Gov. Maggie Hassan (nh.gov photo)
Gov. Maggie Hassan (nh.gov photo)

We’ve seen New Hampshire’s Governor Maggie Hassan in action for two terms. So what would a Senator Hassan look like, if she should prevail over incumbent U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte on November 8?

Look back at one policy decision ratified by Hassan in 2014: the buffer zone law.

Buffer zones and the First Amendment

New Hampshire’s buffer zone law gives abortion facility managers the right to determine whether and where the First Amendment may be exercised within 25 feet from an abortion facility.

Maggie Hassan signed the law despite the fact that a challenge to a substantially similar law from Massachusetts was pending before the Supreme Court. Two weeks after the New Hampshire law was signed, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the Massachusetts law on First Amendment grounds. Hassan continued to defend New Hampshire’s version. She still supports it, even though no abortion facility in New Hampshire has put a zone into effect, as of October 2016. The facility managers know that litigation would doom the New Hampshire law.

Hassan signed the New Hampshire measure into effect even though the Court’s First-Amendment decision on the Massachusetts law was unanimous.


That’s what Governor Hassan thinks of the First Amendment as it applies to nonviolent pro-life demonstrators. Now she wants to become Senator Hassan, with power to confirm (or refuse to confirm) nominees to federal judgeships, including Supreme Court seats.

Dodging the First Amendment 

I reported in 2014 on the form letter I received from Hassan’s office two months after I and many other people had petitioned her not to sign the bill into law. An “assistant director of citizen services” wrote back.  Hassan wouldn’t even reply over her own signature. No skin off my nose, to be sure, but I caught the dismissal.

My 2014 post includes the full text of the letter from Hassan’s assistant. Not once in the letter did the assistant director of citizen services mention the First Amendment. No mention of the Supreme Court. No mention of the Masasachusetts law or the grounds on which it had been invalidated.

Watch your language

The 2014 letter is echoed in some of the language on Hassan’s Senate campaign web site (which has a high enough search ranking already without my linking to it): all-purpose terms, equally available for misuse whether the topic is nonviolence or a Senate seat.

The following bullet points are taken directly from my 2014 post reacting to the letter from Hassan’s assistant. Listening to 2016’s campaign messages, nothing’s changed.

  • “Critical health services.” In other words, cancer screening and contraception and abortion are all “critical.” Huh? The intentional direct taking of human life has nothing to do with “health.”

  • “Access…privacy…safety.” No mention that laws are already on the books against blocking access, against harassment including invasion of privacy, against violence. That was what doomed Massachusetts’s original buffer zone law – the failure to enforce existing laws first.

  • “Affordable access to basic health care coverage is critical to the economic security of women and families.” Knowing that abortion is part of what Hassan defines as “health care,” she’s saying – excuse me, her assistant is saying – that kids are disposable if they come up short in a woman’s cost-benefit analysis.

  • “…without fearing for their safety…” In the fantasy world occupied by the Governor and supporters of the buffer zone law, people standing in silent witness outside an abortion facility are no different from people entering an abortion facility bent on murdering the employees….In the real world, peaceful witnesses have just as much reason to fear violence as do an abortion facility’s employees.

A Seat in the Balance

I have heard from many people of good will who want me to reconsider my adamant refusal to support either major presidential candidate. The shape of the Supreme Court is the usual argument.

I understand the concern. Note well, though, that presidents can only nominate judges. The Senate confirms, or refuses to confirm. It’s the firewall against presidential whackery from any party’s standardbearer.

That’s why I think New Hampshire’s Senate race is at least as important as the presidential one – more important, actually, for those of us who have no top-of-the-ticket preference.

Candidate Hassan made a ceremony out of signing the buffer zone law, and now she wants a seat in the body that confirms jurists who will rule on First Amendment cases.

This is one race where I have no problem making a choice.

 

What the Democratic party sent out on primary day

The New Hampshire primary election for state and federal offices is over. More about that later this week. Today, though, just one day after the primary, I’ve received a letter paid for by the New Hampshire Democratic Party. (That’s one of the questionable pleasures of being an independent voter. I get  mail from all sides.) That means it was sent before the votes were counted. It’s an attack on incumbent Senator Kelly Ayotte, who is being challenged in November by Governor Maggie Hassan.

I think it’s worth sharing in full.

The signature on the letter is that of Oglesby Young, M.D. A quick online check of the name tells me that he is a practicing OB/GYN in Concord. He’s also a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Geisel Medical School at Dartmouth.

Will Senator Ayotte be willing to confront challenges like this? Or will she take refuge in the jobs-and-the-economy mantra that has served GOP candidates so poorly?

And will pro-life health care providers be willing to speak up? Are their jobs in jeopardy if they do?

Dear Ellen,

As a practicing medical doctor, I care very much about policies that affect the well-being of my patients, but I tend to stay out of politics. This election is different. I’ve watched with disbelief as Senator Kelly Ayotte and her special interest allies have attempted to completely rewrite her record of voting to undermine women’s access to critical health services – and so I feel the need to set the record straight and add my voice to the chorus of medical professionals who oppose Senator Kelly Ayotte’s reelection to the Senate.

First, I am personally offended by the positions taken and claims made by Senator Ayotte, who insinuates that my patients and I are somehow less qualified to make private medical decisions than she is.

Abortion is a difficult topic for a lot of people. I know that because I have had thousands of conversations about it with women and couples who depend on me for factual, rational, objective information about what’s best for their personal health. Doctors and nurses are trained – very well, I would add – to understand the implications, necessity, and repercussions of abortion. We are the front lines. We are the ones giving careful advice and performing the procedures. Does Senator Ayotte think so little of our training, our judgment, and our character – and that of our patients, of New Hampshire women – that she must impose her own partisan beliefs on us?

I also take issue with Ayotte and her colleagues who want to overturn Roe v. Wade and continue to fight so vigorously to shut down Planned Parenthood and women’s health clinics, here at home and nationwide, because they provide abortion care. This crusade against a legal, constitutionally protected, legitimate, safe medical procedure actively hurts women.

Too many women of lesser privilege have a tough time finding and paying for standard medical care, let alone preventive care like cancer screenings and mammograms. Senator Ayotte is even pushing a bill that would increase costs of and limit access to birth control – forcing women to pay up to $600 more per year in out-of-pocket costs. When women aren’t allowed to make their own health decisions or have equal coverage for their prescription medications, it violates their freedom, and it also creates a huge economic strain on the entire family.

Ayotte and her partisan cohorts could succeed in revoking women’s health care options – but only if we let them.

I hope that this letter moves you to consider the effects of this election on the women and medical professionals of New Hampshire and our nation as a whole. I strongly urge you to vote to unseat Senator Kelly Ayotte on Election Day.

Sincerely,

Dr. Oglesby Young, MD, Obstetrician/Gynecologist

Spread the word: abortion money doesn’t belong in anti-trafficking bill

The U.S. Senate voted this afternoon on the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. New Hampshire’s Senators split, with Ayotte voting yes and Shaheen voting no. While the vote on a procedural motion was 55-43, with four Democratics joining Republicans in the majority, the bill needed 60 votes to advance.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). Photo by Matthew Lomanno.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). Photo by Matthew Lomanno.

Understand this: abortion funding is holding up the bill. The Act contains language similar to the Hyde Amendment to prevent any funds allocated under the Act from being used for abortion. Abortion advocates are refusing to support the bill because they can’t squeeze any money out of it for abortion providers.

The bill is stalled because abortion funding is more important to one group of Senators than helping survivors of human trafficking. This is what abortion extremism looks like. Shout that from the housetops.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH (official Senate photo)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Official Senate photo.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen was all set with a press release after the vote. “Human trafficking is too important an issue to be stalled because of unrelated measures aimed at restricting women’s access to healthcare. I’m disappointed that partisan language was inserted in this bill that could lead to a dramatic and unprecedented restriction on abortion coverage in the future. We ought to remove that controversial language and act on this bill in a bipartisan fashion.”

Guess what, Senator? Your colleagues DID vote today in bipartisan fashion in favor of the bill.

Senator Shaheen considers taxpayer funding of abortion essential. You want your funds kept away from the abortion industry? That’s a no-no, according to New Hampshire’s senior senator; that’s “restricting women’s access to health care.”

Senator Kelly Ayotte had a statement of her own. “I am disappointed that Senate Democrats are now blocking this measure, and I hope partisan disagreements will be resolved so we can pass this bipartisan legislation and help victims of these terrible crimes.”

Very nice. I support her in this. Did you notice something, though? Her statement didn’t mention that abortion funding was the sticking point. NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn issued a statement as well, taking Senator Shaheen to task for her vote. Again, no mention of abortion funding.

Why the dodge? Shaheen’s vote wasn’t merely partisan. It was extremism in action, cast in the conviction that you and I owe the abortion industry money.

Spread the word.

 

Money talks: first municipal attempt at late-term abortion ban falls short in Albuquerque

Money talked tonight in New Mexico as a ballot initiative in Albuquerque, New Mexico that would have banned post-20-week abortions fell short of adoption. With all absentee ballots counted along with today’s votes from 28 out of 50 precincts, television station KOB is projecting defeat for the measure, 45%-55%.

The result comes the same day as the U.S. Supreme Court dealt abortion advocates a blow by refusing to block Texas’s new law regulating abortion.

“The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Ordinance” was the first citizen-initiated attempt to regulate late-term abortion on a local level. The title is derived from evidence that preborn children are able to feel pain by 20 weeks’ gestation. Passage of the ordinance would have affected at least one Albuquerque-area late-term abortionist.

Similar federal legislation has been introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). New Hampshire’s Sen. Kelly Ayotte is a co-sponsor of Graham’s measure. Similar legislation is under consideration by several state legislatures.

Abortion advocates spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to defeat the Albuquerque initiative. According to LifeSiteNews, Planned Parenthood spent $300,000 while the ACLU spent $200,000. A PP affiliate in New York held a phone bank last week to contact Albuquerque voters.

ABQ Voters for Late-Term Abortion Ban was the umbrella group for supporters of the initiative. Members of Students for Life of America came from around the country to support the campaign. Abby Johnson supported the ordinance and was in Albuquerque to make get-out-the-vote calls. The Susan B. Anthony List spent $50,000 on a week-long pro-ordinance local TV ad campaign.

See one of the SBA List ads (“Human Compassion”) here.

Other tweets from initiative supporters as results came in:

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By the numbers 5/13/13

+34: net approval rating for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. 2014: the year Shaheen will seek re-election.

+5: net approval rating for Sen. Kelly Ayotte. 2016: the year Ayotte may seek re-election, if she chooses.

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte
U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte

Those figures are from a recent New England College poll. Shaheen is of course a leading abortion advocate. (Dispute that description? Show me one case in which she’d support an abortion restriction.) Ayotte is pro-life. She has taken a hit recently over her votes on Second Amendment-related bills & procedures. It’s tough for me to go along with any characterization of her as weak on the Second Amendment OR as “giving criminals a pass” per a recent TV ad. By the way, have the people who supported that ad already forgotten about Ayotte’s prosecution of Michael Addison for killing Officer Michael Briggs?

One Twitter feed to follow: @NHFB. The New Hampshire Food Bank offers many volunteer opportunities and dates for food drives.

Two: number of Marches for Life last week, one in Canada and one in Italy. Tens of thousands of people turned out for each one. See coverage on the home page of LifeSiteNews today.