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.

 


ICYMI: newspaper corrects its NH March for Life coverage

Thumbs up to the New Hampshire Union Leader for trying to undo the smack-my-forehead moment that resulted from their January 17 coverage of New Hampshire’s 2016 march for life. In case you missed it – and it was easy to miss – this was on page A3 today, in the daily “corrections” box, highlighted here:

nhmfl2016 ul correction

This “oops” referred to the caption in Sunday’s coverage of the march. I saw it the day I returned from a trip, and I was very confused that the caption bore no relation to the photos I had seen elsewhere taken by people who attended the event. The Sunday News’s coverage via caption was obviously off.

Here’s the Sunday caption, and I’ve highlighted the goof in bold type: “Pro-life marchers, above, are blocked by pro-choice supporters from walking along Concord’s Main Street during Saturday’s annual NH Right to Life’s March for Life. At right, presidential candidate Rand Paul, standing at right, speaks with Garrett Lear, known as the “Patriot Pastor,” of Wakefield on the State House steps. There were about 100 pro-choice supporters and about two dozen pro-life supporters.”

nhmfl ul original coverage.jpeg

It’s fair to note that the New Hampshire Sunday News, which is the Sunday edition of the Union Leader, carried a photo from the march on page one, above the fold, with a reference to the remainder of the coverage on page C12.

This underscores the importance of pro-lifers posting their own eyewitness accounts and photos of events, and sharing those accounts as much as possible by every means.

It’s also an occasion to thank the Union Leader for doing the right thing by issuing a prompt correction. How many people pay as much attention to corrections as to the stories to which they refer? Not enough, I imagine – but the corrections are essential nonetheless.


 

Reproductive rights an “economic” issue? NH visitor says Yes

The president of a political action committee dedicated to the election of “pro-choice” female candidates was in New Hampshire last week. Stephanie Schriock of EMILY’s List presided at a town-hall-style event organized to promote a female candidate for president in 2016.

Reporter Pat Grossmith of the New Hampshire Sunday News of 9/29/13 reported,”As for reproductive rights, [Schriock] said it was a economic issue, not a social issue, along with minimum wage, equal pay and child care.” I’ve heard this before. I call it the Make Life Perfect First argument: start by making everything else in life perfect, and then it will follow that women won’t have abortions.

Not that easy

It’s not that easy. It’s nearly impossible to calculate the the amount of money that’s been spent on the state and federal levels in the past few decades on the welfare of women and children. Still, hundreds of thousands of abortions are committed annually in the U.S. – over a million in some years, according to the shaky data that’s available.

The foundation of pro-life belief and action is the unshakable understanding that the right to life is inherent from the first moment of prenatal life. It doesn’t depend on any external factor like the mother’s feelings or the local WIC allotment. That understanding is free. Its implications are profoundly at variance with the Make Life Perfect philosophy.

Reproductive rights means abortion on demand (and without apology, according to its most ardent partisans).  That’s the most deadly civil rights challenge of the last 40 years. When rights are dependent on how much one is wanted, injustice prevails, no matter what any judge says.

Money and language

EMILY’s List through the years has raised more than a quarter-billion dollars to help elect pro-abortion women. That’s billion with a B. I’m sure Schriock felt very much at home as she visited a state with a pro-abortion governor, two pro-abortion members of Congress, and a pro-abortion U.S. Senator – all women.

And yet when questioned by the Sunday News reporter, Schriock wouldn’t use the word abortion. In a political discussion, “rights” sells; “abortion,” not so much anymore. That’s telling. The public is shrinking from abortion, as shown by the passage of so many state-level pro-life laws in the past few years. Yet abortion advocates still win elections.

The only way to do that is to use euphemisms and distractions. EMILY’s List and organizations that share its goal have been very good at that. It’s hard to argue in favor of abortion up until birth, if the focus is on the preborn child and on the well-being of the mother. Shift the terms to “choice,” war-on-women and “reproductive rights,” and combine that with political opponents who prefer silence to making the pro-life case, and pro-abortion candidates gain an edge. I’m not giving away any secrets.

To EMILY’s List, then, a key is to introduce economics to the discussion. They’re out for big game: a female pro-abortion president. Schriock noted at her New Hampshire stop that Hillary Clinton isn’t the only possibility. She reeled off a half dozen other names as well, including Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary. Yes, the HHS mandate queen looks like presidential timber to that outfit.

Pro-life alternatives

It’s up to individual candidates and individual donors to pick up the gauntlet. The Susan B. Anthony List‘s PAC is the sole nationwide political action committee dedicated to identifying and electing pro-life candidates. “Advancing, mobilizing and representing pro-life women” is the SBA List mission. They’ll help pro-life women who are running for office, but they don’t neglect pro-life men. I know state-level PACs can operate as well. Keep an eye out for them.

If you’re telling yourself that politics shouldn’t be about money, you’re half right. Politics is about policy. Getting elected to influence policy does cost money. Try traveling around your state without it, or buying ads, or bringing together a team dedicated full-time to helping in the effort.

Think about the quarter of a billion dollars that EMILY’s List has spent. Where’s the pro-life equivalent? SBA List is willing to go the distance, with sufficient support from pro-life donors.

That’s where economics comes in. Keep the dollar signs off the babies.

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