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.

Where’s the roll call on SB 66? (Update: Found!)

Update: a few hours after this post went up, so did the Senate roll calls for SB 66. View them at this link. The first roll call listed is the 8-week amendment that failed on a 12-12 vote. Sens. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and Dan Innis (R-New Castle) joined the Senate’s ten Democrats in rejecting that language. They did support the 20-week amendment, which passed 14-10. 

The thing about legislative roll calls is that they’re public. They tie elected officials to particular votes. They’re an accountability measure.

During the debate on Senate Bill 66, the fetal homicide measure passed yesterday by the New Hampshire Senate, three roll call votes were taken, according to the official docket for the bill, accessed via the General Court’s web site.

Docket of SB 66 as posted 11:30 a.m., 2/17/2017.

The first roll call (“RC”) was on an amendment; the vote was 12-12; the amendment failed (“AF”). This was the attempt to change the bill’s language to 8 weeks, instead of keeping the original “viability.”

The second roll call was on the amendment to replace “viability” with 20 weeks. This one passed (“AA” or “amendment adopted”) 14-10. The third roll call was to accept the bill as amended, and on another 14-10 vote, the bill passed.

Those RC notations are all hyperlinked to the page that ought to give us the roll calls: each Senator’s name, each Senator’s vote. Instead, we have this.

Record indicating no roll calls on SB 66, as viewed 11:30 a.m. 2/17/2017.

Each day’s roll calls are usually posted online by the end of the day. The recent House right-to-work roll call was online within ten minutes of when the vote occurred.

Personally, I’d like to know the breakdown on that 12-12 vote. I feel safe in saying all ten Democratic senators opposed the bill in all its proposed versions. So who are the two Republicans who couldn’t support the 8-week amendment?

I could just call the Senate clerk or call a Senator. But there’s that thing about roll calls being public. There’s that roll call page on the web site.

I’ll update this when and if the roll calls are posted.

 

Update: N.H. Senate Passes Amended Fetal Homicide Bill

The New Hampshire Senate today passed SB 66 on a 14-10 vote. The measure is a fetal homicide bill that would give prosecutors the option of filing homicide charges against anyone whose bad actions cause the death of a preborn child against the mother’s wishes. As introduced, SB 66 could have been used only for fetal deaths after viability, but the Senate amended the bill today to change “viability” to 20 weeks’ gestation.

The bill’s legislative docket includes links to roll calls.

A New Hampshire House committee last week retained another fetal homicide bill, HB 156, which bars further action on the House version for now. The House bill would have made fetal homicide charges possible for deaths of preborn children at 8 weeks’ gestation or later. It is likely that the Senate bill will now go to the same House committee that retained HB 156.

State Senate incumbents: votes on buffer zone repeal & abortion stats

In 2016, the New Hampshire Senate considered and failed to pass bills that would have repealed the buffer zone law and established an abortion-statistics program at the state level.

The senators who managed to get those votes right and who are running for re-election deserve your consideration. These are bellwether bills: a legislator who opposes them is all but certain to be weak or hostile on the right to life.

I know there are other seats, other candidates, and fundamental pro-life policies. Today, my only concern is to list the legislators who supported stats and the First Amendment in the past term in Concord. The Senate had straight up-or-down votes on those two bills.

If you’re not sure who the candidates are in your area, you can check your Senate district number here, and then look at a sample ballot for your town to see the names of the candidates for each office.

Buffer zone

These are the incumbents running for re-election who voted ( via bill #HB 1570) to repeal the buffer zone law, thus respecting your rights and mine to demonstrate peacefully on public property outside abortion facilities. The repeal effort failed on a tie vote.

Jeb Bradley (district 3), Andy Sanborn (district 9), Gary Daniels (district 11), Kevin Avard (district 12), Sharon Carson (district 14), John Reagan (district 17), Regina Birdsell (district 19), and Chuck Morse (district 22). Some House reps who supported the same bill are running for Senate now: James Gray (district 6), Harold French (district 7), Joe Duarte (district 16), and Bill Gannon (district 23).

Reps. French and Gannon are going up against incumbents who voted the opposite way: Sen. Andrew Hosmer vs. French and Rep. Alexis Simpson vs. Gannon.

Bradley is the only senator who supported passage of the buffer zone bill in 2014 and later changed his mind. I’m glad the First Amendment eventually appealed to his better nature.

Note that Kevin Avard is being challenged for his seat by former senator Peggy Gilmour, who voted for the buffer zone law in 2014. Voters gave the seat to Avard later that year. This year’s rematch is fierce and expensive, and it could go either way.

Abortion statistics

Another tie vote doomed an abortion statistics bill (HB 629). The same senators listed above for the buffer zone supported the stats bill: Bradley, Sanborn, Daniels, Avard, Carson, Reagan, Birdsell and Morse. The House passed the bill on a voice vote, so there’s no recorded vote for candidates Gray, French, Duarte and Gannon.

A sobering total

The bills I’ve cited here don’t even assert a right to life. The buffer zone law is about denying First Amendment protections to peaceful pro-life demonstrators, and the repeal bill was an effort to rectify that error. The statistics bill was about public health, particularly women’s health. Tie votes were the best the Senate could muster for them.

The eight incumbent senators and four House candidates for Senate I’ve mentioned cover twelve districts. That’s only half the seats in the Senate. If all these candidates win, things like a stats bill might still die on a tie. If any of these candidates lose, prospects for mischief increase dramatically.

Two other districts to watch

District 18’s Donna Soucy, chief sponsor of the buffer zone law, is being challenged by former Rep. Ross Terrio, chief sponsor of the partial-birth abortion ban that became law in 2012. In district 2, an open seat, former Rep. Bob Giuda is a candidate. He served in the House over a decade ago and had a good pro-life record, including helping to pass New Hampshire’s first parental notification law.

(Senate photo by Leon Rideout.)


 

General election candidates set for N.H.

The dust has settled on the Granite State’s primary election. Most New Hampshire House incumbents with strong records on recent life-issue bills did well and will be on the ballot in November.

Let’s follow up on recent posts regarding candidates for Governor, Senate (parts one and two), and House.

Governor

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

Republican Chris Sununu will go up against Democrat Colin Van Ostern. Both men as Executive Councilors have voted to grant state contracts to abortion providers, with Sununu making one exception in August of 2015. Planned Parenthood has already endorsed Van Ostern.

Sununu survived what proved to be an astonishing primary challenge from pro-life Rep. Frank Edelblut, an underdog who finished well ahead of candidates Ted Gatsas and Jeanie Forrester. Edelblut was in a position to ask for a recount, but he quickly threw his support to Sununu and turned his attention to the general election.  On Facebook, Edelblut addressed his supporters: “We came very close to victory and I cannot thank you enough for your tireless efforts. But please stay tuned; I have more in store for this great state.”


State Senate

In State Senate district 1, Rep. Leon Rideout of Lancaster lost narrowly to Dolly McPhaul for the GOP nomination – and fetal homicide legislation thus lost a committed supporter in the House. McPhaul will go up against incumbent Democrat Jeff Woodburn. The day after the primary, Rideout wrote, “I will continue to work to find ways to serve my community and the North Country. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I ask each of you to please do what you can to help defeat Jeff Woodburn.”

In State Senate district 2, former Rep. Bob Giuda of Warren won the GOP nomination over Rep. Brian Gallagher. Both have pro-life voting records. Giuda will go up against Democrat Charlie Chandler in November.

Republican Ruth Ward prevailed over Jim Beard in a recount for the nomination in district 8. Her November opponents will be Democrat John Garvey and independent John Jeskevicius.

Two Democrats supporting public funding of abortion providers contended in district 9, with Lee Nyquist beating Jeanne Dietsch. Nyquist will now have a rematch with Republican Sen. Andy Sanborn, whose life-issue voting record is encouraging.

Jay Kahn won a three-way Democratic primary in district 10 and will face Republican Chester Lapointe in the general election.

Senator Sharon Carson of Londonderry (district 14) had no trouble winning her primary. Carson has been among other things an outspoken opponent of efforts to discourage peaceful pro-life witness via the buffer zone law. Tammy Siekmann will challenge Carson from the Democratic side in November.

In district 16, Democrat Scott McGilvray will meet Republican Joe Duarte.

A recount is pending on the Republican side in district 18 (Litchfield and part of Manchester) between former Reps. George Lambert and Ross Terrio. [Update 9/20/16: Terrio won in the recount.] Rep. Ralph Boehm finished third on that side. The winner will face buffer zone sponsor Sen. Donna Soucy.

Rep. Bill Gannon of Sandown prevailed in a four-way primary in district 23. . Gannon has a good pro-life voting record. His Democratic opponent is Rep. Alexis Simpson, who in the past two years has voted against a personhood bill, a post-20-week abortion restriction, conscience rights for health care providers, and an end to tax funding of abortion providers.

On the Seacoast in district 24, Republican Dan Innis will meet Democratic Rep. Tom Sherman. Innis won a four-way primary.


State Representatives

Looking solely at the incumbent representatives featured in my earlier post, here are the primary victors, by county, with districts in parentheses:

  • Carroll County: Frank McCarthy (2), Glenn Cordelli (4).
  • Hillsborough County: Rick Christie (6), Linda Gould and Keith Murphy (7), Joe Lachance (8), Mark McLean (15), Josh Moore and Jeanine Notter (21), Eric Eastman and Carl Seidel (28), and Jordan Ulery (37). Ulery’s district will be recounted tomorrow, but his margin is safe.
  • Merrimack County: J.R. Hoell (23).
  • Rockingham County: James Spillane (2), Chris True (4), Al Baldasaro (5), and John Sytek (8).

A few of the featured incumbent reps fell short, and I hope their public service will continue one way or another:  Rockingham County’s Jeffrey Harris and Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien, and Strafford County’s Robert Knowles.

In the coming weeks, as candidates reveal more about their views, I’ll keep you posted. If you know of a local candidate you want to support, offer now to help with the campaign. This is especially true in state rep races, where simple things like sign waves and pollstanding can have a big effect.