Senate committee strips abortion funding language from budget bill

As reported by Adam Sexton of WMUR, the New Hampshire Senate Finance Committee has voted to remove proposed state budget language requiring family planning contractors to keep abortion work financially and physically separate from contractors’ other business.

The House language rejected by the Senate committee was reported in this blog last month. Its stated purpose was “[i]n order to ensure that public funds are not used to subsidize abortions directly or indirectly.”

The House language was included in HB 2, the so-called “trailer bill” that is a companion measure to HB 1. Together, the bills will form the state budget for the biennium beginning July 1.

The disputed language is different from provisions included in past state budgets to prevent state funds from being used directly for elective abortions. Such provisions are similar to the Hyde Amendment in the federal Health and Human Services budget.

The Senate Finance Committee will eventually make a recommendation to the full Senate on HB 2, which is likely to contain over a hundred provisions applying to various budget areas.

House and Senate will eventually have to settle their differences before submitting a budget to Governor Chris Sununu by the end of June.

No Senate votes yet on 2021 life-issue bills

Since committee hearings on March 30, the New Hampshire Senate has not yet scheduled votes on bills regarding born-alive protections (HB 233) and a 24-week limit to abortion (HB 625).

GOP Senator calls restriction on eugenic abortion “a bridge too far”

HB 625 met resistance at the March 30 Senate Judiciary hearing from a Republican senator. Sen. William Gannon (R-Sandown) noted that the bill contains no exception for preborn children diagnosed with “severely fatal abnormalities.”

Following testimony in favor of HB 625 by one of its co-sponsors, Sen. Gannon challenged him. “I have a problem – it’s a bridge too far without it for me, sir. You don’t have any exception for severely fatal abnormalities which I think would be cruel to a mother and father in the situation.”

Video of the hearing is on YouTube, with Sen. Gannon’s question at time stamp 2:40:00.

[Update: Please see Sen. Gannon’s comment below, responding to this post.]

A reader has shared with me an email she received several weeks ago from Sen. Gannon regarding the bill, in which the senator stated that only ten GOP senators will accept the bill as passed by the House. In the email, he did not name the senators. The current membership of the Senate is 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

The bill contains an exception for medical emergencies that would threaten the life of the mother or would cause her “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

Diocese: don’t send message that “some lives are less worth living than others”

Robert Dunn, director of the office of public policy for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, sent out a call to action on April 20, urging supporters of HB 625 to contact their senators.

“To summarize [the Diocese’s] position: State law should not send the message that, based on certain characteristics, some lives are less worth living than others. All children have the right to life and to a recognition of their human dignity. If we want society to respect and value the child who is homeless, or the child at the border, or the child without access to health care, or the child with disabilities, then it is essential that society also respect and value the child in the womb as well. Please contact your Senator…to respectfully urge a vote to pass HB 625 without any amendments that would water down the bill.” (Emphasis in the original.)

Cornerstone: watch out for amendments

Cornerstone Action published a commentary on April 27 entitled “Protect the Late-Term Preborn: Don’t Let Amendments Sabotage HB 625.”

While favoring amendments from Sens. Regina Birdsell and Harold French – the texts of which were not part of Cornerstone’s post – the organization warned against other proposals, including an exception for eugenic abortions.

“If HB 625-FN is to pass and fulfill its moderate mission of protecting late-term preborn life in the state, it will need informed and educated support for the original bill and the proposed Birdsell and French amendments. Any other amendments could endanger the bill and its effectiveness.”

(While I am no longer a lobbyist, I formerly represented Cornerstone at the State House.

The next Senate calendar will be published this evening.

Senate Committee to hear life-issue bills March 30

The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary committee will hold hearings on Tuesday, March 30 on two life-issue bills, HB 233 and HB 625.

The hearing on HB 233, to protect infants who survive attempted abortion, will be at 1 p.m. A hearing on HB 625, to limit late-term abortions, will follow at 1:30. Hearings are still being held remotely, via Zoom videoconference. Members of the public can register online in advance to testify . The same sign-in process is used to register support or opposition without providing testimony.

I described the bills and their course through the House in “House passes two life-issue bills, overturning committee reports.

Members of the public may view the Senate Judiciary hearing using the following links:

  1. Link to Zoom Webinar: https://www.zoom.us/j/91687899729
  2. To listen via telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
    1-301-715-8592, or 1-312-626-6799 or 1-929-205-6099, or 1-253-215-8782, or 1-346-248-7799, or 1-669-900-6833
  3. Or iPhone one-tap: US: +13017158592,,91687899729# or +13126266799,, 91687899729#
  4. Webinar ID: 916 8789 9729

Pro-life winners in New Hampshire Senate recounts

Three New Hampshire senators who voted to table a 2020 born-alive infant protection bill were voted out of office on November 3rd. Three recounts this week confirmed that pro-life senators will take their places.

In district 11, Gary Daniels (R-Milford) will return to the Senate after losing the seat two years ago to Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst). After an intense campaign, the margin of victory was 159 votes out of more than 34,000 cast. A mailer from the New Hampshire Democratic Party attacking Daniels for voting pro-life apparently didn’t boost Chandley as intended. (See The Attack Ad Told Me to Check the Facts – So I Did.) Daniels previously served two terms in the Senate after 9 terms in the House.

Kevin Avard (R-Nashua) unseated Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline) in District 12. Avard had served two terms before being ousted by Levesque in 2018. This time, Avard prevailed by 805 votes. The “singing Senator” will soon be back on the job.

District 9’s Jeanne Dietsch (D-Peterborough), a one-term senator, was beaten by Denise Ricciardi (R-Bedford), a newcomer to state-level politics. Hours into a recount on November 10, Dietsch withdrew her challenge when a hand count of ballots from the largest towns in the district failed to put a dent in Ricciardi’s 409-vote lead.

Regina Birdsell (R-Hampstead) of district 19, sponsor of the 2020 born-alive bill, was re-elected easily.

Republicans will have a 14-10 majority in the upcoming Senate term.

House to Vote On Abortion Insurance Mandate June 30

The New Hampshire House will vote on June 30 whether to agree with a Senate amendment creating an abortion insurance mandate bill. The House will vote to concur (agree) or non-concur (disagree) with the Senate’s changes to HB 685. The House intends to wrap up its session on the 30th, coming back only in September to consider vetoed bills.

If a majority votes to non-concur, HB 685 and the abortion insurance mandate will die. If a majority votes instead to concur, the bill will go to Governor Chris Sununu. The Governor has made no public statement on whether he’ll veto HB 685.

Reaching House members

To reach House members before Tuesday, June 30, look up your district and representatives’ names at the General Court website. Note that you may live in two districts, one for your town and another “floterial” district covering several towns. In that case, contact representatives from both districts.

To kill HB 685, the message is please vote to non-concur with HB 685.

Brief and courteous messages are always the way to go.

Reaching out to the Governor will be the next step if the House concurs. If you want to get a jump on that, call the Governor’s office at (603) 271-2121 and ask for a veto if HB 685 gets to his desk. Thumbs up to the staff at the Governor’s office, which fields all such calls and makes sure the Governor hears about them.

The sneaky swap: senate’s non-germane amendment

As previously reported, HB 685 bears no relationship to the original bill passed by the House. As introduced, HB 685 was about insurance for ambulance services. That’s what the House passed. The Senate, where a majority is more interested in abortion than in ambulance services, amended the bill by stripping out the original language altogether and replacing it with an abortion insurance mandate. The vote on the non-germane amendment – meaning the amendment has no relationship to the topic of the original bill – was 14-10 along party lines.

To add insult to injury, the Senate majority accepted a new name for the bill: “The Reproductive Health Parity Act of 2020.”

Even a House member who’s a fan of abortion mandates could take offense at the Senate’s casual dismissal of a House bill. Procedure alone is reason enough to torpedo HB 685 as amended.

There’s more: there was NO House hearing on the material in HB 685 as amended. No House member should be supporting that kind of sneaky process.

If this procedural nonsense succeeds, it will set a precedent for future legislatures. Its use won’t be limited to one party or the other. No House member should be willing to open that door. No representative voting to concur with HB 685 as amended will have any business objecting if his or her own pet bill falls prey to shenanigans in the future.

Because the House intends to finish this session’s regular business on June 30, without forming any conference committees, a vote to non-concur will kill HB 685.

I’ll add a link to the roll call after the House vote.