N.H. House Committee Rejects Buffer Zone Repeal Bill

On a vote of 14-4, the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee voted “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL) today on HB 124, which seeks to repeal the buffer zone law. The full House will take up the bill at a date yet to be determined. [Update: House vote is scheduled for January 31.]

The law, written to give abortion facility managers authority to restrict public access to public areas, has never been used since its passage in 2014. Its clear incompatibility with the U.S. Supreme Court’s McCullen decision might be the reason. Only the abortion facility managers know for sure.

All Democrats on the committee were joined by Republicans Edward Gordon (R-Bristol) and Joe Alexander (R-Goffstown) in voting to kill the repeal effort. Voting against the ITL motion were Republicans Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford), Gary Hopper (R-Weare), Barbara Griffin (R-Goffstown), and Mark McLean (R-Manchester).

“For me, it comes down to a free speech issue,” said Rep. McLean. “No clinic throughout the state has actually put [the buffer zone’s] provisions into play.”

Rep. Wuelper, the bill’s chief sponsor, told his colleagues before the vote, “[The buffer zone law’s] very intent is to restrict speech and religion in a public space based on the content of speech. [The law] hasn’t done any good in five years. It won’t do any good in 50 years.”

Not so, countered Rep. Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland). “Perhaps it’s had a salutary effect,” he said. “The facts that were present [when the law was passed] have not changed.” He’s right about that much: McCullen was present when the law was passed and it’s still binding precedent. Rep. Berch also said, “The law was drafted and passed after the Supreme Court decision [in McCullen].” He may have forgotten that the buffer zone law was drafted no later than the opening of the legislative session in January 2014, while the McCullen decision came down in June of that year.

“This is a church-state issue,” added Rep. Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham), saying he had documentation that one particular religious entity, the Catholic Church, opposed the buffer zone. “I am a Roman Catholic myself.” His one-religion claim probably comes as a surprise to people like Rev. Don Colageo of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Manchester, who has frequently led prayer vigils at an area abortion site. Further, said Rep. Horrigan, “There isn’t a First Amendment right to provide counseling or advocacy if you’re not licensed.”

The ITL motion was made by Rep. Debra Altschiller (D-Stratham) and seconded by Rep. Sandra Keans (D-Rochester.)

Reviewing 2018, Welcoming 2019

A New Year’s toast: to life! Thank you to the readers who have sustained Leaven for the Loaf, and thank you to everyone whose pro-life work has kept me inspired and challenged all along the way. Join me now as I pack away some artifacts of the year just ended.

The Posts

It’s a mixed bag of topics for the most-viewed posts of 2018.

  1. CareNet: John Oliver Gets It Wrong About Pregnancy Centers. When a late-night TV personality used his platform to criticize pro-life pregnancy care centers, CareNet’s CEO wasted no time setting him straight, with a video offering a positive response to a hostile report.
  2. Gallery: New Hampshire March for Life 2018. Speaker Jennifer Christie of Save the 1 shared her powerful story. March for Life, Concord, New Hampshire
  3. Gosnell: Film Review. In the hands of an inept screenwriter or the wrong director, this true-crime story could have gone badly awry.  The makers of Gosnell got it right. The film will be coming to on-demand video and DVD in early 2019.
  4. But Wait, There’s More. This was a brief report on an ill-advised bill that would have nullified New Hampshire’s parental notification law. The House later killed the bill.
  5. Rep. Jeanine Notter
    Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), sponsor of informed consent bill (HB 1707). Facebook photo.

    Trust Women, You Say? Start Here. Coverage of January’s hearing on a bill, HB 1707, that would have established comprehensive informed consent requirements for abortion.

  6. A Genteel Rant on Party Unity. In which I’m reminded (yet again) that political-party-linked activism is not always helpful in building a culture of life.
  7. Abortion Statistics: “Inexpedient to Legislate.” “Two hundred [N.H.] legislators voted like people who are afraid of evidence-based public health policy and afraid of political retribution from abortion providers.” Another statistics bill has been introduced for 2019.
  8. Slamming Shut a Doorway to Assisted Suicide. A state senator let slip that her proposed study committee on end-of-life issues was actually a path to an assisted suicide law. Her fellow senators took her at her word and killed her bill. A similar bill is on the way for the coming legislative session.
  9. Why I’m Voting No on Question 2. A ballot question about adding a “privacy” amendment to the state constitution passed, not long after I posted this cautionary message. Time will tell if my concerns had merit.
  10. Do Not Accept Anything As The Truth If It Lacks Love.” Wise words from St. Teresa Benedicta.from @USCCBFreedom

The Events

I reported from the state and national Marches for Life in 2018, and I plan to do the same in 2019. On January 12, less than two weeks from now, you can attend any portion of the day-long program of events that accompany the march in Concord. The March for Life in Washington will be held the following Friday, January 18.

Pro-life sign at March for Life in Washington.
“Life Chooses Us.” March for Life, Washington D.C., January 2018.

2018 brought two more 40 Days for Life campaigns. The next one is coming up in a little over a month, and you’ll be hearing more from me about that in the coming days.

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Ellen at PLWC 2018

I went to St. Louis, Missouri for the third annual Pro-Life Women’s Conference last June. The first PLWC in 2016 was organized by Abby Johnson and the team at And Then There Were None. Since then, the conference has grown to include a diverse group of speakers and attendees guaranteed to broaden the horizons of anyone working in the pro-life movement. For just one example, read the message from one of this year’s featured speakers, Savannah Marten: “We find the tables we need to be sitting at.”

The next Pro-Life Women’s Conference is scheduled for June 2019 in New Orleans. I’m already saving my pennies for it. Check out the event’s web site; you might want to make the trip, too.

Best Short Video: “Desperate Measures”

For media in 2018, the Gosnell film is in a class by itself. For short video, I was glad to find and share “Desperate Measures” by Sidewalk Advocates for Life.  Featuring former abortion workers who are now committed pro-lifers, the video is a direct response to recent sit-ins and “rescues” at abortion facilities. The message is don’t do it – and here’s the better way to carry out peaceful pro-life witness. 

Looking Ahead

I’ll be back at the State House to report on 2019 legislation including buffer zone repeal, abortion statistics, and death penalty repeal. I’ll venture to claim that since 2012, no other New Hampshire blog has covered life-issue bills in Concord to the extent attempted by this little enterprise called Leaven for the Loaf. I aim to keep it going.

When my travels lead me to inspirational people and places, you’ll hear about them.

Over a year ago, I had intended to publish an anthology of Leaven posts – and I’m glad I didn’t! The manuscript was not ready for prime time. In 2019, on a much more modest scale than first envisioned, the anthology will be ready.

As longtime readers will have noticed, Facebook and Twitter became significant extensions of the blog in 2018, especially during coverage of marches and conferences. If you’re not following those social media feeds yet, I invite you to do so.

The New Year is here. Let’s make the most of it.

 

 

Why I’m Voting No on Question 2

As if the November 6 ballot didn’t have enough on it, a pair of proposed amendments to the New Hampshire constitution will be on there, too. One of them, Question 2, is about privacy. My opinion, for what it’s worth: I’m going to vote No.

There’s one way to get my vote on “privacy” language in the state constitution: make it abortion-neutral. Something like “nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to abortion.”

Such neutrality is not written into Question 2, which says An individual’s right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential, and inherent. 

I know the sponsors’ intentions are good. They mean for the amendment to address “informational” privacy. That doesn’t change the fact that there’s been too much nonsense in other states from courts that have determined that a state constitution provides more protection for abortion rights than does Roe v. Wade, sometimes on the basis of privacy language in the constitution.

Anyone concerned with the right to life has known for more than 40 years how “privacy” has been torqued out of shape to accommodate abortion policy. Cornerstone Action (for which I’m a consultant) has contacted attorneys who reviewed the language of Question 2 and confirmed that there’s cause for concern. More from Cornerstone on Question 2 here.

I wrote about a related story over on DaTechGuy blog a few weeks ago. On the first day of its 2018-19 term, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a 2014 Tennessee ballot measure that put abortion-neutral language into the Tennessee constitution. Why was the ballot measure needed? Because a Tennessee court found in 2000 that the state constitution somehow provided a right to abortion broader than Roe.

It took 14 years for Tennessee voters to rectify the court’s error.

I have had earnest discussions about Question 2 with New Hampshire legislators and attorneys. Some see no need for concern. They can’t imagine any New Hampshire judge reading something into a constitutional amendment that sponsors didn’t intend. Others disagree.

Remember, judges in New Hampshire are nominated by a governor who calls himself pro-choice.

That’s my opinion. Yours may vary.  See you at the polls.

EMILY’s List makes its Choice for N.H. Governor: Molly Kelly

Fresh off a victory by its preferred candidate in the Manchester mayoral election, EMILY’s List has announced that it is throwing its endorsement and cash into the New Hampshire governor’s race in support of Molly Kelly.

Kelly is a Democrat and a former state senator from Keene (district 10). I was in the Senate gallery on several occasions as she spoke against fetal homicide legislation and in favor of the buffer zone law.

Her formal statement in response to the EMILY’s List endorsement, as reported by WMUR’s John DiStaso, includes the candid if clichéd declaration “I trust women to make their own health care decisions,” thereby smoothly assuming that abortion is health care – an assertion that the Republican incumbent has shown no inclination to dispute. Kelly adds, “As governor, I will defend funding for Planned Parenthood.” Well, so does the Republican incumbent governor, even though he strayed off the PP script once as Executive Councilor. That incumbent has already indicated that he’s running for re-election.

Kelly entered the Senate after winning a 2006 election over former Senate president Tom Eaton, who lost to her again in 2008 and 2010. In 2012, she won re-election by a 2-1 margin over her Republican challenger. In 2014, Republicans didn’t bother to put up a candidate against her. She retired after that term, and the district 10 state senate seat is now held by Democrat Jay Kahn.

Top Posts 2017, Part 2: a Hard-Fought Victory

Part one is at this link.

Here are the blog’s top five posts, measured by number of views. We’ll do it like a pageant…runners-up first, ending with the winner.

#5: New Hampshire House Approves Fetal Homicide Bill

State House, Concord NH

Not to put any spoilers in here, but SB 66 – the fetal homicide bill – was the most closely-watched bill of the year in Concord, as far as Leaven for the Loaf’s readers were concerned. You’ll see more about this further along in the list.

This post documents the intense debate and five votes that went into House passage of SB 66.

 

#4: Pro-life Women Disinvited from Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

There was a Women’s March in Washington in January (how quickly we forget!), and pro-life women were told to stay home and behave themselves. Well, no, we weren’t told to behave – just to stay away.  Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa of New Wave Feminists refused to take that particular order.

 

#3: 40 Days for Life Local Opening Events

Readers wanted news about the spring 2017 40 Days for Life campaigns. The team in Greenland, New Hampshire continued its faithful witness, while campaign leader Beth Gaby brought 40DFL back to Concord.

The next 40 Days for Life campaign begins February 14, 2018.

40 Days for Life vigil, Concord NH
Final vigil hour, 40DFL Spring 2017, Concord NH

#2: New Contact Information for Federal Reps

The 2016 federal election left readers ready to stay in touch with New Hampshire’s solidly pro-abortion federal delegation. Don’t let up! Maybe it’s time to invite them to the March for Life in Concord or Washington (or Concord AND Washington) so they can broaden their horizons a bit.

 

#1: Governor Signs Fetal Homicide Law as Families Look On

This one left all of 2017’s other posts in the dust. I wasn’t the only one to rejoice in the signing of a fetal homicide law, almost two decades after the first such bill was introduced in Concord. Sarah and Griffin’s Law was named for two children whose families simply would not quit working for the law.

Families celebrate passage of N.H. fetal homicide law
Moms Deana Crucitti & Ashlyn Rideout (front); dads Nathan Crucitti & Daniel Kenison (rear middle & right) after SB 66 was signed into law.

Governor Chris Sununu followed through on his commitment to sign fetal homicide legislation if it came to his desk. He had plenty of company as he did the deed.

Gov. Sununu signs SB 66
Gov. Chris Sununu signs SB 66, New Hampshire’s fetal homicide law

I went to the State House for the signing ceremony, unsure if I could get in. I had been told it would be a quiet event in the Governor’s office. Didn’t work out that way. Griffin Kenison’s extended family was there, several generations deep. The Crucitti family was there. The elected officials who doggedly persisted in seeing the bill through were there. The festivities were moved to the Executive Council chamber to accommodate the crowd.

I told Griffin’s great-aunt that day that I had just about given up on ever seeing a fetal homicide law in New Hampshire. I’ll never forget the look she gave me as she said, “Shame on you.” She was right. Her family’s hope and persistence will inspire me for a long time to come.