Tag Archives: New Hampshire politics

PP Contract Coming to Executive Council Wednesday, June 21

You may or may not be surprised to learn that New Hampshire’s abortion providers bid on contracts other than the familiar Title X family planning business. Supporters of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Equality Center will be at the New Hampshire Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, June 21 to watch the Councilors vote on HIV prevention contracts with the two agencies.

The contracts total $440,000, with 17% of those funds coming from federal sources and the rest coming from “other,” meaning state-level sources.

To view the contract letter, go to the Council’s June 21 agenda and click on item #50. 

From the contract letter: the request for proposal for this HIV prevention work elicited proposals only from PPNNE and the Equality Center. No abortion-free bidders applied.

Also in the contract letter is a warning that if the contracts are denied, individuals might lose access to HIV testing and referrals for care, “which may increase the transmission of disease throughout New Hampshire.” I guess that means that denying the contracts would not prompt PPNNE to shift any of its public policy funds to HIV prevention.

You can contact your Councilor about the contract vote if you are so moved. The June 21 meeting (10 a.m.) is open to the public at the Executive Council chamber on the second floor of the State House.


 

Dispute Over Fetal Homicide Bill

Five months after its introduction and first hearing, four months after its passage in the New Hampshire Senate, three months after its House hearing, and days after its House passage, language has been discovered in a fetal homicide bill that allegedly would permit assisted suicide and allow pregnant women to get away with murder.

House and Senate are scheduled to vote on a “fix” for that drafting error on Thursday, June 22. [Update, 6/22: both chambers voted to correct the error.]

New Hampshire Right to Life has made its objections to the bill public, based on other grounds: the fact that this fetal homicide bill would apply only in cases of pregnancies at or after the 20th week.

I have not heard any comment on either point from the bereaved families who have promoted fetal homicide legislation. [Update: see comment below from the grandfather of Griffin Donald Kenison.]

Anyone who wants SB 66 to be a personhood bill and is dissatisfied with the 20-week language now has another crack at House and Senate before June 22. In the event that SB 66 is killed, the retained HB 156 would remain open for further work and a 2018 vote on fetal homicide policy.

Whatever happens, I hope one question finds its way into the conversation: would SB 66 have allowed the New Hampshire Supreme Court in its 2009 Lamy decision to have upheld the defendant’s homicide conviction in the death of Dominick Emmons? The Court has the right to issue an advisory opinion on that.*

If SB 66 fails to address Lamy, then somehow the sponsors and the grieving families  have been wrong all this time about the bill’s purpose.

I don’t believe they’ve been wrong. Assuming no new news breaks abut the bill between now and June 22, I’m going to ask my reps to vote “yes” on correction to the drafting error in SB 66,** and to send the bill to the Governor’s desk.


*From the New Hampshire Constitution, under “Judiciary Power”:

[Art.] 74. [Judges to Give Opinions, When.] Each branch of the legislature as well as the governor and council shall have authority to require the opinions of the justices of the supreme court upon important questions of law and upon solemn occasions.

** Statement by Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper, from the House Calendar (vol. 39, #29) for the June 22 session, boldface added:

“Also in this House Calendar is an enrolled bills amendment that the full House will vote on during session. An enrolled bills amendment is a legislative device that we use in New Hampshire to clean up errors in the legislative drafting process. We typically adopt these amendments when the House is in recess by having the Clerk meet with two members and having a session where a member fills in ‘the chair’ and another member moves and adopts the amendment. (We also introduce bills, form committees of conference, and read enrolled bills reports in these sessions.) SB 66 had a drafting error that did not express the intent of the General Court when both bodies passed the bill, and as such (and as is proper) an enrolled bills amendment to clarify the intent has been drafted. Because of the rather political nature of this bill (SB 66, including a fetus in the definition of ‘another’ for purposes of certain criminal offenses), I have decided that the full House will take up the amendment in session this coming week.”

Thanks, Readers: the Blog Turns Five

Five years ago today, I put up the first post on Leaven for the Loaf. Pro-life issues in New Hampshire seemed like a tiny niche for a blog, but I plunged in anyway.  Thank you for plunging in with me. As long as I can travel and observe and report, I’ll keep blogging.

From an earlier “blogiversary”: a cupcake decorated by a creative neighbor.

Want to celebrate with me? Hug your family. Pray with steady faith. Give a box of diapers to your local pregnancy help center. Volunteer for an elder support program like Meals on Wheels. Donate blood. Stay in touch with your elected representatives. Witness to the value of life, publicly and peacefully. And have a cupcake.

I’m deeply grateful to the supporters who have helped defray expenses for travel and tech support. That includes those of you who have made Amazon.com purchases via the links on this site.

In the long-ago inaugural post, I described New Hampshire’s political/legal situation regarding abortion – which is only one aspect of pro-life work. The situation hasn’t changed much. I re-state it below not out of discouragement, but in a spirit of determination. I refuse to settle for the status quo. And with that, let the next five years commence.

New Hampshire currently is the Wild West where abortion law is concerned. Women’s safety and public health policy would seem to call for a degree of regulation and oversight, even if one were to put aside the fact that each abortion takes a human life. Abortion advocates are  loud and angry over each and every one of the bills, however, drawing no distinction among parental notification (enacted over a veto), funding restrictions, statistical reporting, and a late-term ban. To them, it’s all one big attack on Choice, part of a larger effort to set women back.

This is worse than nonsense. What I see being set back are the rights of women and men who choose not to pay even indirectly for the operation of an abortion facility.  I see people lobbying to keep abortion undocumented, so that public health officials will continue to be in the dark about how many New Hampshire women make this “choice” every year. I hear testimony to the need for eugenic abortion, which is a throwback to one of the 20th century’s worst ideas. I hear women who should know better equate a 24-hour waiting period with an outright ban on abortion.

So yes, we’re still talking about this. Pro-lifers cannot be effective if they stay huddled together. I propose that we step out in faith and leaven the loaf of public discourse. Let’s begin.



 

N.H. journalism starts 2017 on the wrong foot

You’d think I could get through my first hot chocolate of 2017 without being moved to post here. Nope, thanks to the New Hampshire Sunday News, a Union Leader publication.

I’ve been a subscriber for decades and will remain one. The editorial page has retained a pro-life tone through changes in staff. Someone on the news side was a bit self-indulgent today, though, employing this subhead in an article by Kevin Landrigan and Dave Solomon on the upcoming legislative session.

“New efforts to restrict abortion services.”

OK, you have my attention, I thought as I sipped and savored my New Year’s mug of chocolate. I read on, curious about the use of the plural “efforts” when I’m aware of only one bill to limit post-viability abortions.

I shoulda known. The buffer zone and fetal homicide are grossly miscast as “efforts to restrict abortion services.” Here is the relevant portion of the article, page A8, carried over from the front page’s “State House to take on drugs, guns, money.” I’ll hold my remarks until after the excerpt, much as the content begs for in-line comments.

The new Republican governor is already well-known for his on-again, off-again, on-again relationship with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Sununu calls himself “pro-choice,” which was why his deciding vote to block state grants to Planned Parenthood in 2015 became such a flash point in the campaign.

Less than a year later, Sununu got the chance for a makeup call on the matter and reversed field, endorsing grants for Planned Parenthood.

Sununu had opposed them last year due to the allegations that other locals of Planned Parenthood had paid for fetal body parts, allegations that were never taken to court to be proved.

What is less recognized but worth watching next year is whether Sununu gives any political support to restrictions on abortion laws that he did endorse in 2016.

For example, Sununu said he would sign into law the repeal of the still-unenforced law that requires there be a buffer zone around abortion clinics so that their patrons aren’t harassed by pro-life protesters.

Further in a mailing to pro-life voters, Sununu said he favors the so-called Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act that permits all employees of health care providers to refuse to work or counsel anyone regarding services that they morally oppose. 

Those services include abortion, birth control, stem-cell research and euthanasia.

Finally, Sununu said that unlike the last two governors who vetoed such measures, he would embrace legislation that treats an unborn fetus as a person when it comes to the state’s homicide laws. 

“I need your help to restore strong, value-based governance to our state,” Sununu wrote to pro-life voters days before his Nov. 8 victory.

Pro-choice advocates remain hopeful they can convince the legislature not to pass these measures.

The subhead is astounding, more so when you realize that the post-viability bill did not rate a mention.

One more time, folks: the buffer zone law does not protect abortion access, and repealing it would not restrict abortion access. “Harassment” can be addressed under disorderly conduct laws, which have not been used against New Hampshire pro-life witnesses in recent years. The failure to use such laws before infringing on the First Amendment is what doomed the Massachusetts law struck down by a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court in McCullen v. Coakley.

Further, the unenforced law would not “require… there be a buffer zone around abortion clinics.” The law as written gives abortion facility management sole discretion on whether, when, and where a zone may be posted.

The experience in other states with buffer zone laws in effect indicates that abortions go on regardless of the presence or absence of a buffer. The presence or absence of such a law has no effect on any right to abort.

Also under the subhead mentioning “restrict” is a brief mention of conscience legislation, as though respect for conscience rights means a restriction on abortion and is therefore a bad thing.

Finally, fetal homicide legislation finds itself under a subheading about “restrict[ing]” abortion services. The writers decline to use the words fetal homicide legislation, preferring treats an unborn fetus as a person when it comes to the state’s homicide laws.

Fetal homicide laws are on the books in more than three dozen states. Abortion is legal in all those states. No fetal homicide law, including the versions introduced in New Hampshire over the past quarter-century, would affect ANY decision made with the consent of the pregnant woman – including abortion.

That bears repeating. Fetal homicide laws are NOT applicable in any case where the death of the fetus occurs with the mother’s consent. Fetal homicide laws have nothing to do with abortion. 

Fetal homicide legislation gives prosecutors the right to seek a homicide charge against people like drunk drivers and abusive partners whose actions cause the death of a fetus, against the will of the mother.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court in 2009 – that’s going on eight years ago – had to overturn the conviction of a man whose drunk driving resulted in the death of Dominick Emmons. The unanimous Court concluded at that time,  “Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.”

A minor point, by comparison: the writers of the article mention two vetoes of fetal homicide legislation. There has been only one, by Governor John Lynch in 2012.

I doubt today’s news coverage would seem half so egregious had it not been under the words “new efforts to restrict abortion services.” Buffer zone repeal, fetal homicide laws, and respect for conscience rights don’t amount to restrictions.

Should you be moved to comment on the Sunday News coverage, you can leave a comment online under the article, reply to the paper’s Twitter or Facebook links to the piece, or email a letter to the editor via letters@unionleader.com.

 


2016 in review: who leavened the loaf this year?

Politics dominated the news including this blog in 2016. As the year ends, though, I find that what sticks in my mind the most is my visit to Pathways pregnancy care center in Littleton back in April. I went to learn more about the new ultrasound service offered there. The real story turned out to be the extent of the services already in place, aside from the limited ultrasounds.

By welcoming me to see their ministry, the Pathways team reminded me that pro-life activism takes many forms, not all of them political.

Greatest inspiration: pro-life pregnancy support centers

The staff and volunteers at all of New Hampshire’s pro-life pregnancy support centers brought me encouragement and inspiration in a challenging year.  I am indebted to Lesley Wotten of Pathways, who introduced me to her staff in Littleton and opened my eyes to the full range of services Pathways provides in the North Country.

 

Birthright, Care Net and its affiliates, Pennacook Pregnancy Center, Our Place: all over New Hampshire, people are working to provide the support a pregnant woman might need in order to choose life for her child.

“Crisis” pregnancy center has become a misnomer. A woman or girl who comes in at a moment of crisis or indecision might be looking for options counseling or simply someone to listen. For today’s pro-life pregnancy care centers, that’s just the beginning. Depending on the size and resources of the center, referrals for medical care are available. Assistance with housing might be in order. Parenting classes or referrals for them can be offered. Every center has a supply of diapers and clothes and furniture, offering practical day-to-day support after the children are born.

Fathers are not left out, as I was reminded at Pathways. Parenting classes are in demand, and the centers that offer them welcome dads as well as moms.

Anyone can be part of this work by volunteering or making donations. Make that a resolution for 2017.


 

Honorable mention: pro-life education programs (hold the politics!)

The Concord-Manchester-Nashua area gets most of the press where life issues are concerned. There are educational and non-political programs and projects going on outside that Everett Turnpike  corridor, though. Here are a few.

Kudos to the Knights of Columbus Council 7572 in Windham, St. Matthew parish, which sponsors a monthly Respect Life speaker series covering a range of life issues. Presentations are open to the public. The Council will soon announce its slate of speakers for 2017.

Works of Mercy ministry at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish in Windham offers films and speakers. Coming up January 21: a screening of The Euthanasia Deception, a video produced by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. For more information, email worksofmercy@gmail.com.

Of long standing, but often under the radar, is the New Hampshire Right to Life Educational Trust. Resources include a speaker’s bureau, a library of life-issue resources, and Life Lights scholarships (application deadline for the next round is May 1, 2017).

My thanks to all. Politics is in my wheelhouse, so to speak, but this has been a year to cheer for all the good things going on far from the political arena.

My favorite events: a snowy March for Life, upbeat witness outside PP, the first Pro-Life Women’s Conference

I was out of the country on the January day for New Hampshire’s March for Life, and I was glad to see coverage via NHRTL’s Facebook page – a good resource, by the way.

Sister Mary Rose Reddy at March for Life, DC (photo by Ellen Kolb)

Along with busloads of fellow Granite Staters, I beat the blizzard out of Washington (barely!) just after the national March for Life.

Photo by Jeffrey Bruno/Aleteia.com via The March for Life Facebook page

In April, a national pro-life Day of Witness outside Planned Parenthood offices inspired New Hampshire residents to gather in Manchester and Derry.

Witnessing for life in Manchester

Abby Johnson brought together an amazing array of groups under the umbrella of the first Pro-Life Women’s Conference. Thanks to support from readers, I was able to attend and report from the site. I plan to be in Orlando next June for the second edition.

Speaking of Abby Johnson: the year’s most popular Leaven for the Loaf tweet

The Executive Council asserts itself – and produces a new Governor

The Executive Council gave Planned Parenthood our money. I may have mentioned that a few times this year (as in New Hampshire Executive Council reinstates PP $$$).

The so-called swing vote was Chris Sununu, who is now governor-elect, having finished in November barely ahead of fellow councilor Colin Van Ostern. Sununu assured voters shortly before the general election that he opposes public funding of abortion. That doesn’t stop him from supporting public funding for abortion providers. (I just deleted a snarky remark about that. Must be Christmas-season goodwill on my part.)

From June 2016: Executive Councilors and gubernatorial candidates Chris Sununu (with contracts) and Colin VanOstern (at right).

Councilor Joe Kenney, recently re-elected to his post, voted against PP funding but in favor of a much smaller contract with another abortion provider. I’m grateful for the PP vote, and I’m happy that he survived a third electoral challenge from a man who considers abortion to be health care and who has no trouble with public funding of PP.

Councilor Dave Wheeler remains a stalwart pro-life public servant whose votes, statements, and diligent research in 2016 came as no surprise to the voters in district 5. He was re-elected to the Council last month.

No abortion stats or fetal homicide law, despite a Republican legislature

“Republican” and “pro-life” are not synonymous, as the New Hampshire House and Senate proved once again. Even abortion statistics and fetal homicide, measures that would not affect Roe v. Wade or the right to life, did not pass this year.

In possibly-related news, the same House and Senate leaders from the past term are in place for 2017-18.

Questions for 2017

Will the House and Senate see their way to passing stats and fetal homicide bills, which are being introduced once again?

Will Governor-elect Sununu follow through on his pledge to support legislation on (among other things) fetal homicide, buffer zone repeal, conscience rights, and a ban on late-term abortion? Or was his statement of support not a pledge?

Will abortion providers finally enforce the buffer zone law they fought to get? 40 Days for Life is coming back to Concord in the spring. We’ll see if the Equality Center (formerly Feminist Health Center) will do what PP in Manchester didn’t.

(Here’s a pre-buffer-zone-law look at the area around the Equality Center, photographed and described back when the Concord City Council considered a buffer zone petition. A zone would actually push pro-life witnesses into far more visible areas.)

Will  the incoming presidential Administration drive a stake through the heart of the HHS/contraceptive mandate, or will women’s fertility still be considered a disease under whatever might replace the “Affordable” Care Act? Note that the mandate came from an HHS regulation. It could be repealed even if the ACA remains in place. The Hobby Lobby case did not settle the matter.

And speaking of the mandate, will the federal government finally leave the Little Sisters of the Poor alone?

Will the incoming President take pro-life policy seriously, and will the pro-lifers who supported him give him what he deserves if he doesn’t? A related question nags at me: will anyone try to turn the March for Life in DC into a Trump rally? That would be a huge mistake, and I am counting on the March for Life board to guard against such nonsense.

How will coverage of the March for Life compare to coverage of the planned January 21 “women’s march” in DC that will apparently have no place for pro-life women? Ditto for the state level, where the local march for life will be on January 14.

Finally…

Remember the value of your own coverage of events that bear on the life issues. Take photos, write about what you see, and share your posts. Among others, politicians need to see your accounts.

Resolve for 2017 to support New Hampshire’s pro-life pregnancy support agencies. Resolve as well never, ever to let elected officials forget that you’re watching them.

 

Top ten posts, 2016: part 1

Topics timely and evergreen, posts new and old: the most popular posts on Leaven for the Loaf in 2016 cover a wide range. Today begins the countdown of the posts that drew the most viewers this year. Look for part 2 tomorrow.

#10: Court rebuffs suit against buffer zone law

In March, with no abortion facility in New Hampshire willing to use the buffer zone law that abortion advocates fought so hard to get, a federal judge dismissed a suit against the law. The law had not been used, said the judge, so no one had yet suffered any actual injury from it.

Update: attorneys for the pro-life plaintiffs have appealed the March decision to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Legislatively, a bill to repeal the buffer zone law passed the House in March but failed on a tie vote in the Senate in May. Another repeal bill will be considered in 2017.

#9: “My job is to inform, not convince”

Catherine Adair (photo: harvestisabundant.blogspot.com)

This post from 2014 continues to attract readers. It’s by Catherine Adair, taken from one of her Facebook posts (and used with her permission). “While walking with my family today we were greeted by two young men wearing Planned Parenthood t-shirts trying to raise money to ‘fight back.’ I engaged one of them in conversation and was able to plant some seeds.”

Catherine describes a moment of grace: a spontaneous conversation between people who disagreed with each other but listened to each other with respect.

 

#8: Uncertain future for four bills limiting mid- and late-term abortions

New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee recommended “inexpedient to legislate” on three bills to limit mid- and late-term abortions, while making no recommendation on a fourth (a “pain-capable” bill).

Update: all four bills were killed by the full House, with the most lopsided vote coming on a bill to ban eugenic abortion. Only 66 House members thought that bill was a good idea.

#7: What the New Hampshire Democratic Party sent out on Primary Day

The state’s Democratic Party paid to mail a letter from a pro-abortion physician attacking U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte.  He conflated abortion and health care, attacked Ayotte’s attempt to address the HHS contraceptive mandate, and accused her of being insufficiently deferential to abortion providers. I posted the full text of the letter.

#6: After November, we march

I caught a fair amount of criticism (and temporarily lost some readers) when I announced mid-year that I refused to support either major party’s candidate for president. In August, I followed up with something all pro-lifers could get behind, regardless of their candidate: whoever wins the presidential election needs to see a big March for Life in Washington in January.

“Peaceful, as always, but disruptive by its sheer volume and the determination of the marchers. It wouldn’t hurt for members of Congress to see that, too, particularly the Senators who will vote on any Supreme Court nominees….Public witness to the right to life is becoming more important, not less.”

Update: I’ve got my bus reservation in hand. How about you?