The New Hampshire House and Senate got back to business today. Hearings on new bills are on hold until 2013’s business is formally concluded. Today was a matter of dealing with veto messages, re-referred 2013 bills, and (just to keep things interesting) a successful move in the House to pass Medicaid expansion by making it an amendment to another bill. Yes, an Obamacare provision without a hearing. The Senate did not act on that today.
Among the hundreds of bills that have been introduced, here are a few that I’ll be watching.
Fetal Homicide – “Griffin’s Law”
Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) has been very busy promoting HB 1503 on social media and conventional news outlets. As with all the bills listed here, no hearing date has been set yet. HB 1503 would allow prosecution for causing the death of a fetus – excluding abortions, excluding any act taken with the mother’s consent, and excluding the first eight weeks of pregnancy. This is what the New Hampshire Supreme Court asked for in 2009’s Lamy case. Related posts: Rep. Rideout explains how Griffin’s Law got its name; what the Lamy case was about.
HB 1502 would require New Hampshire’s department of health and human services to collect abortion statistics.
HB 1501 would require licensing of outpatient abortion facilities. Rep. Kathy Souza (R-Manchester) is chief sponsor of both bills, and both bills have numerous co-sponsors.
Rep. J.R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton) is the sole sponsor of HB 1504, recognizing that life begins at conception.
Eight abortion advocates led by Sen. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) want to pass SB 319, imposing a 25-foot no-free-speech zone around abortion facilities.
Physician-assisted suicide is back with HB 1325. Rep. Joel Winters (D-Nashua) is chief sponsor.
Related to HB 1325: two bills would modify New Hampshire’s current law against causing or aiding suicide. HB 1216 would remove from the law the language about “soliciting another to commit suicide.” HB 1292 would provide an “affirmative defense” to anyone who aids in the suicide of a person with a terminal illness. Rep. Tim O’Flaherty (D-Manchester) is chief sponsor of both bills.
In ironic contrast to Rep. O’Flaherty’s efforts is HB 1588, which would require suicide prevention education in schools. The long list of sponsors is led by Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter).
HB 1293 would establish a civil cause of action for victims of human trafficking. Only two sponsors, which surprises me: Reps. Shawn Sweeney (R-Milford) and J.R. Hoell.
Legislative calendars with the following week’s hearing schedules are available Thursday evenings. Look for the calendar links at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/.
With the new year, the New Hampshire legislature re-convenes. The festivities begin next Wednesday, January 8. If you’re not already familiar with the state legislature’s web page, check it out here. You’ll find links to help you contact your representatives and look up hearing dates for bills, among many other things.
Supporters of the Pray for Life Center in Manchester are having a baby shower on January 12 for a young expectant mother named Cassie. Details are on the Pray for Life Center Facebook page.
You might have seen Matthew Lomanno’s black-and-white documentary photography featured in the Diocese of Manchester’s Parable magazine. The New Hampshire photographer has produced a photo essay about the national March for Life that does a great job of capturing the spirit of this annual event.
The Alliance Defense Fund keeps track of court cases filed against the federal Department of Health and Human Services over the HHS mandate (requiring that contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs be included in employer-provided health insurance policies under the president’s health care law). Kathryn Jean Lopez reports here on ADF’s finding that in 2013, 53 court rulings went in favor of the plaintiffs while only 7 went in favor of HHS. There have been no Supreme Court rulings on the mandate yet.
On the same topic, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor surprised a lot of people on New Year’s Eve when she issued a temporary injunctionbarring the administration from enforcing the birth control requirement against an order of Colorado nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and related groups.
No trophies, no certificates on parchment, no red carpet: just credit where it’s due.
“at·ta·boy (noun): a piece of encouragement or congratulations.”
Most underrated activists
New Hampshire’s most underrated pro-life activists for 2013: Cathy Kelley and the volunteers at the Pray for Life Center in Manchester. I don’t choose them for the Center itself or for the Pennacook Pregnancy Center they’re developing. Instead, I note their unique contribution to moving New Hampshire past Roe v. Wade: the weekly written account of what the volunteers see outside PP on “abortion days.” PFLC’s updates keep me mindful of the sheer number of people involved in an abortion besides the child: a mother, usually just wanting to get into the building without talking to anyone; a companion, sometimes a boyfriend, often willing to talk (politely or not) with people praying on the sidewalk; the provider with out-of-state plates coming in for the day’s work; occasionally an ambulance crew, perhaps following up on a complication about which public health authorities will hear nothing.
The state of New Hampshire isn’t documenting anything about abortion. With their anecdotes and observations, as limited and sketchy as they must be, PFLC volunteers try to fill in some blanks.
Attorney Michael Tierney and the New Hampshire Right to Life Committee have persistently tried to find out if PPNNE is held to the same standards as other HHS contractors when it comes to dispensing prescription drugs. Their inquiries date back to the 2011 Title X contract dispute. This is the off-the-radar stuff of administrative hearings and oft-delayed court dates. The New Hampshire Supreme Court will hear arguments next month on whether NHRTL has any standing to challenge the state Board of Pharmacy’s decisions regarding PPNNE.
With a pro-abortion majority in the New Hampshire House, passage of a resolution cheering for the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision looked like a foregone conclusion last January. Instead, HR 6 died with a whimper after being tabled in March. The committee hearing on the bill ended with an all-but-unheard-of tie vote, and the resolution went to the full House without recommendation. The House voted 239-111 (without a roll call) to table the resolution, and it died when the House adjourned in June.
In the March 15 House Calendar, Rep. Don LeBrun (R-Nashua) was allotted a paragraph to sum up the arguments against the resolution. He rose to the occasion:
“Americans are sharply divided on the issue of abortion. HR 6 will further divide the House of Representatives and citizens of New Hampshire. The resolution serves no end, other than a political one. It will inflict unnecessary emotional stress on those who have chosen to have an abortion and now regret their action. While legal, this resolution in essence, celebrates the destruction of over  million pre-born children. It sends a message to our youth, that life is meaningless, and may be terminated when they see no value in life.”
(The calendar contained a misprint, reporting 500 million dead instead of 50 million since Roe.)
The same day and time that HR 6 had its hearing before the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs committee, an informed consent bill was being heard down the hall in Judiciary. Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) introduced HB 483, the Abortion Information Act, which was killed on a roll call vote the same day HR 6 was tabled. (See the breakdown of the 229-121 vote here. The motion was “inexpedient to legislate,” so a “yes” vote was a vote to kill the bill.) HB 483 was co-sponsored by Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack). Cormier and Peterson did their best to make the case that women’s health should get more attention. “Pro-choice means pro-information,” said Cormier to her colleagues before the vote. Unfortunately, she was dealing with a tough crowd.
Cormier’s bill called for regulation of abortion facilities in a manner consistent with Roe. Nothing in her bill would have undermined a “right” to abortion. Abortion advocates fought the bill anyway, thus demonstrating what extremism looks like, if anyone running for office in ’14 wishes to take notice.
The national March for Life last January was the first one I’d been to in many years. My husband and I came to lend our voices to the hundreds of thousands of people who came to affirm life in the face of a pro-abortion government. We got more than we gave, as the huge number of high-school and college-age students showed us that the pro-life movement is growing in the rising generation. I give two thumbs up to everyone who helps arrange bus transportation for Marchers from New Hampshire.
My favorite book this year was a 2007 publication. Eric Metaxas‘s Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery (HarperOne, 2007, ISBN 9780061173882) reminds me what real persistence looks like. Wilberforce spent most of his adult life attacking England’s participation in the slave trade. Two centuries later, the way he went about his work can serve as an example to anyone working to affirm the dignity of human life. I wrote a brief review of the book last spring.
Best pro-life speakers
Speaking of Eric Metaxas, his speech at CPAC in Washington last March was one of the highlights of my trip there . After two days of hearing too-few conservative speakers give social issues their rightful place, Metaxas took the mic the final morning of the conference and absolutely rocked the house.
Locally, the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women invited Star Parker to keynote this year’s Lilac Luncheon in Nashua. Just … wow. An excerpt:
“The top three social crises confronting us are rooted in social matters: AIDS, abortion, and entire welfare state. …The first question conservatives should be asking is ‘what is wrong with our nation, and how do we fix it?’ Our nation was designed to be free under God, and we’ve lost our way.”
I notice that Tierney and Cormier made my 2012 list, too, for different reasons. I hope they don’t mind.
Culture-of-life coverage in 2014 will inevitably include reports on political campaigns, with a U.S. Senate race on top of the usual New Hampshire contests. Through this blog, I’m committed to reporting on how candidates address the life issues, particularly for the Senate race. A year from now, it would be good if I were to need a category in my year-end post for “most surprising pro-life victory.”
I hope your Christmas Day was the beginning of a season of blessings!
WMUR’s Political Scoop for December 20 took note of Rep. Leon Rideout’s fetal homicide bill, HB 1503. The text is here. Rideout has been joined by five co-sponsors for this effort.
Rep. Kathleen Souza and nine co-sponsors are introducing HB 1501, the Women’s Health Protection Act, calling for licensing of outpatient abortion facilities. As the bill’s Findings and Purposes state, “Based on the fact that New Hampshire provides safeguards for women’s health through the licensing of hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, walk-in care centers, birthing clinics, and other facilities providing medical services, it is the purpose of this act to further protect women’s health by the licensing of abortion clinics.” (I’ll have more on these bills next week.)
Some of this links I share are strictly for informational purposes. Others are pure delight and inspiration. This is one of the latter. I’m a fan of jazz and Christmas and the musings of Elizabeth Scalia (a pro-life powerhouse, among her other gifts), and they all come together in Duke Ellington and the Great Christmas Secret.
State Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry), tweeting at @Al_Baldasaro, announced on December 19 that he is considering stepping into the U.S. Senate race. Former U.S. Senator Bob Smith has already announced his intention to enter the GOP primary for the seat. Both have pro-life voting records.
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Gov. Maggie Hassan has nominated Democratic former state senator Joseph Foster to be New Hampshire’s next attorney general. Foster was in the New Hampshire House from 1995 to 1998 and in the New Hampshire Senate from 2002 to 2008. While in the Senate in 2003, he voted against the parental notification law that was defended at the U.S. Supreme Court by then-AG Kelly Ayotte. The Court chose not to overturn the law, and instead remanded it to a lower court for reconsideration of one point.
Before that could be done, the legislature overturned it in 2007 with help from Foster, who was Senate Majority Leader at that time. He was quoted by the Associated Press as calling the law “unconstitutional,” although Justice O’Connor’s majority opinion had noted that there was no need to throw out the law.
A new parental notification law passed in 2011 over Gov. Lynch’s veto, after Foster had left office. If the Executive Council confirms Foster’s nomination to be attorney general, he would be responsible for the state’s legal response to any challenge to the existing law.