Update: Sponsor Testifies Her “End of Life” Study Bill is About “Medically Assisted Death”

At the February 8 Senate Health and Human Services committee hearing introducing SB 490, Sen. Martha Hennessey (D-Hanover) spoke in praise of what she called “medically assisted death.” With that, she confirmed that her bill “establishing a commission to study end-of-life choices” would be open to concluding that assisted suicide is an acceptable state policy.

She strenuously objected to the use of the term “assisted suicide” to describe her bill or her goal. She used the words “medically assisted death” again and again.

I say call the bill what it is: a gateway to assisted suicide.

Some of the people at the hearing, including myself, weren’t sure what the Senator had in mind until she made her introductory speech. I give her credit for candor and for clearing up the mystery so quickly.

A representative of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester testified that if the bill had been what the title indicated, there would have been no cause for concern. In view of the sponsor’s words today, he said, it’s now a different story.

A physician, an advocate for people with brain injuries, and people concerned with disability rights testified about the danger of a public policy that treats suicide as a medical treatment. A young man with Down syndrome spoke against the bill: “Disability is not a fate worse than death!” He knew, as the other speakers opposing the bill know, that normalizing physician-assisted suicide will have far-reaching effects.

Sen. Hennessey professed mystification that anyone could see her bill as a threat to people with disabilities. I will not question her sincerity at this point.

A representative of hospice agencies testified with the disappointing news that after years of resisting proposals that could lead to assisted suicide, her group is now “neutral” on this bill.

No date has been set for the committee vote. The full Senate must act on the bill no later than March 22.

Another “End of Life” Study Bill for N.H.

Another end-of-life study bill is coming to Concord. This year’s version is SB 490, with a dozen co-sponsors led by Sen. Martha Hennessey (D-Lebanon). The hearing is Thursday, February 8, at 1:15 p.m. in room 100 of the State House.

I take as skeptical a view of this as I did of earlier “study” bills. Any end-of-life study commission that does not start out by explicitly ruling out assisted suicide as an acceptable policy will only serve to pave the way for an assisted suicide law.

In 2016, the last time such a “study” was introduced, sponsors tipped their hand by including the words “aid in dying” in the bill.  The 2018 version rectifies that tactical error.

I’ll keep an eye on this one.

Top posts 2017, part 1: Marching for Life; Legislative Disappointment

Leaven for the Loaf’s most popular posts for 2017 are heavy on State House action, reflecting an eventful year. But wait – there’s more. Here’s a review of five of the ten most-viewed posts from 2017. Watch for the top five later this week.

New Hampshire March for Life Gallery

January’s March for Life in Concord was sponsored once again by New Hampshire Right to Life, with featured speaker Jennifer Lahl. People came from all over New Hampshire, peacefully resolved to defend the right to life.

Situational Personhood

On the same day that the House debated a fetal homicide bill, it also took up a bill from the Commerce committee related to trusts. Lo and behold, the trusts bill referred to “unborn person.” The trusts bill somehow got by without scrutiny from the same people who were afraid a fetal homicide law would confer personhood.

My thanks to Rep. Jeanine Notter, who came to the gallery the day of the debate to show me the Commerce bill. The irony of the term “unborn person” was not lost on her.

 

Fetal Homicide and Women’s Rights: Remember These Women

In their Concord testimony, opponents of fetal homicide legislation usually gave a pro forma gee-I’m-sorry nod to bereaved parents before going on to say that the legislation would interfere with women’s rights. I decided it was time to highlight the women whose children had died in utero in legal limbo: dead due to someone else’s actions, but not a victim under law.

 

Help Open St. Gianna’s Place

A dedicated group of volunteers is working to open another shelter for pregnant and parenting women in New Hampshire. This post is from last April, and the effort to find and fund a house is still underway.

Learn more, and join the effort, at stgiannasplace.org.

 

N.H. House Rejects Post-Viability Limit on Abortion

“All nine months: that’s how far into pregnancy abortion is legal in New Hampshire. Viable, non-viable, with or without ‘anomalies’: all irrelevant. What’s more, any abortion-minded woman in New Hampshire is entitled to a dead baby, not merely a terminated pregnancy.

“Rep. Keith Murphy and ten co-sponsors brought forward HB 578 in an effort to push back against that bit of barbarity. Murphy took Justice Blackmun at his word as expressed in Roe v. Wade: the state may assert an interest in the preborn child once that child is viable.

The New Hampshire House had a chance to stand with Murphy. The House refused.”

There’s good news, though: Rep. Murphy has introduced another bill along the same lines, to be considered in the 2018 session.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post, featuring the story that far and away drew the most attention this year.