The Rest of the Veto Day 2012: Partial-Birth Ban is Law, Fetal Homicide Falls Just Short

The House’s override of the HB 1679 veto (partial-birth) augured well for the day. The Senate followed suit a little later, on an 18-5 straight-party-line vote. The bill is due to go into effect next January 1, although I have a sneaking suspicion that someone will try to enjoin it.

This is an enormous victory. I’ve spent enough time in the trenches to know one when I see one.

Fetal homicide, HB 217, fell short on a vote of 201-126. A majority in the House, to be sure, but not quite the two-thirds needed to send it to the Senate. Reps. Kathleen Souza (R-Manchester) and Warren Groen (R-Rochester) argued for the bill today on the House floor. Governor Lynch got spanked today, with several of his vetoes being overturned, so he may be particularly gratified that he managed to make this one stick.

Dominick Emmons and his mother got no justice today. I told their story in an earlier post.

The death of Dominick Emmons led to the Lamy case in which the state supreme court called on the legislature to clean up the state laws regarding the death of a fetus. Most of the legislators were willing to do that, despite Governor Lynch’s veto. The override vote was complicated when RESOLVE, a national support group for families dealing with infertility, teamed up with NARAL to hand out anti-HB217 flyers to legislators this morning.

Huh?

You read that right. After the bill had its Senate hearing but before the original Senate vote, abortion advocates went to work looking for allies. The usual suspects – PPNNE, NARAL – found a threat to Roe v. Wade where none existed, and they managed to whip up fear that a fetal homicide law would stop in vitro fertilization and other forms of assisted reproduction. That WOULD NOT HAPPEN under HB 217, for the simple reason that the bill includes language exempting from prosecution anyone acting with a woman’s consent – even a lab tech discarding surplus embryos (children)  from IVF.

I wonder if some of the pro-life women struggling with infertility know that RESOLVE has made common cause with abortion advocates to fight fetal homicide laws. Next time, sponsors will need to keep that in mind as they build the coalition that will get this legislation over the top next time it’s introduced.

Raise your glass and toast the reps who refused to fall for the fear factor – especially Kathy Souza, who has been promoting fetal homicide legislation for a couple of decades now, since long before she was a state rep. Manchester ward 4 can be proud of her.

Veto of NH Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Overridden in House, 240-118; Senate action coming up

Spread the word far & wide: the New Hampshire House today overrode Governor John Lynch’s veto of HB 1679, a measure to ban the partial-birth abortion method. This is a milestone. The vote was 240-118; the roll call will be available via gencourt.state.nh.us later today. The Senate will take up the veto later today. (Coverage here.)

Rep. Candace Bouchard (D-Concord), speaking against the bill and in favor of sustaining the veto, called the bill “life-sustaining treatment.” She claimed that the bill’s two-physician evaluation in emergency situations posed a threat to a woman’s life. Rep. Daniel Tamburello (R-Londonderry) asked Rep. Bouchard if partial-birth is the only method available in emergencies; Bouchard replied that “I can only tell you that this bill is flawed” and “late-term abortion is already highly regulated by the federal government.”  Rep. Janet Wall (D-Durham) also spoke against the bill.

Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R-Salem), supporting the override, called the term partial-birth “appropriately descriptive” of the “inhumane procedure.” Addressing the concerns over emergency situations, Garcia pointed out that medical experts have declared that this particular abortion method is “never a medical necessity”, with other abortion methods available. She also noted that since New Hampshire does not require compilation of abortion statistics, there is no way to determine if any women undergo partial-birth procedures or if such women experience post-abortive complications. Garcia was followed by Rep. Peter Silva (R-Nashua) in an appeal to sustain the override.

More about this later today – but let the celebration of LIFE begin.

To Undecided Reps, Rx for Fear: Read the Bills

As I checked my Twitter feed recently, the oft-quoted axiom came to mind about a lie getting halfway around the world before truth gets its pants on. An overwrought writer responded to a tweet I wrote for Cornerstone, in which I urged the New Hampshire legislature to override Governor Lynch’s vetoes of the partial-birth and fetal-homicide bills, by tweeting “Who cares if women die! Protect the fetus, so you can ignore it once it’s born.#christiantaliban”

I am not enough at home in the Twitterverse to wage effective rhetorical war 140 characters at a time. Yet I cannot back off completely. My Twitter scold, whoever she or he is, is not conveying the truth. Neither did the governor in his veto messages. Representatives and senators can choose to make their decisions based on fact instead of fear when they consider overriding the vetoes on the 27th. Read the bills.

A recent veto message by Governor Lynch on a school choice bill contained an erroneous claim. Charlie Arlinghaus of the Josiah Bartlett Center called out the governor for his “factually incorrect veto.” Arlinghaus concluded with the stinging admonition, “Read it before you veto it.”  In a second school-choice veto three days later, the governor based his objections on what was actually in the second bill. I only wish there had been two fetal homicide bills so the governor would have had a chance to correct himself again.

In vetoing the fetal homicide bill, Governor Lynch falsely claimed that “this legislation … would allow the State of New Hampshire to prosecute a pregnant woman”.  The governor missed the plain language of  HB 217: “nothing in [this bill] shall apply to any act committed by the woman pregnant with the fetus”. In fact, HB 217 would not apply to any pregnancy termination caused by any person acting with the consent of the mother.

And then there’s the partial-birth abortion ban. “Who cares if women die?” Everyone cares, except those who unfortunately don’t want to hear about abortion-related maternal deaths. Remember, self-proclaimed reproductive choice advocates  fought this year to block a separate bill requiring the state to collect abortion statistics, so we all could get some authoritative information about how many women and girls suffer post-abortion complications. (That bill, HB 1680, was passed after being amended to authorize study of the idea.)

The governor wrote in his veto message that the HB 1679’s two-physician requirement for emergency situations could cause a delay that might harm a pregnant woman. No. Even if HB1679 passes, any one physician would continue to be able to terminate a woman’s pregnancy, at any point in the pregnancy, by any method he or she finds appropriate except partial-birth, in which the fetus is partially extracted from the woman’s body before being “terminated.”

Back to Twitter: “Protect the fetus, so you can ignore it once it’s born.” How does HB 1679 protect a fetus? The bill’s opponents are afraid there’s some anti-Roe monster in the closet. Not in this one, there isn’t. A woman’s right to choose abortion is unaffected.  Claims to the contrary are false. Read the bill.

As for “#christiantaliban”, no one concerned with truth could have written that. It’s catchy, though, and is probably halfway around the world as I write, along with the false claims that these bills will harm women.

The truth is still putting its pants on, so to speak. It’s right there, though, in the bills. The fears expressed by the governor and the hapless tweeter are groundless. The facts won’t change between now and the 27th.

One More Day to Press For Overrides

Share, link, re-post, if I may be so bold: One more full day remains in which to email and call New Hampshire state representatives and senators before they take up Governor Lynch’s numerous vetoes on Wednesday morning. The fetal homicide and partial-birth-abortion bills have already made history by getting to the governor’s desk. Overriding his vetoes will put these bills into law, where they belong. Failure to override will mean delay, not defeat, since both bills will surely return in future sessions for however long it takes to enact them.

The outcome remains uncertain, in my estimation. Abortion advocacy groups have mobilized their clients and supporters. Their bitter opposition to these bills is ironic and irrational, since neither bill prevents abortion. (Getting around a partial-birth ban is simply a matter of choosing another abortion method.) I won’t unpack those arguments today, having done so at length in earlier posts.

I’ll be in the House gallery Wednesday at 10 a.m. to listen to the debates, and maybe do some last-minute lobbying. The House and Senate sessions will also be streamed online.  I warn you, though, sometimes the demand gets ahead of the bandwidth, making the feeds somewhat unreliable on busy days. I’ll be on Twitter to comment during the debate, and I’ll post vote results here.

School choice & voter ID will be up as well, and those are both important policy initiatives. First things first, though. Let’s get the life issues in order.

 

Exec Council District 2: Michael Tierney Enters the Arena

The New Hampshire Democratic Party released a statement today warning of an “anti-women’s health extremist” who is running for Executive Council. Look up “anti-women’s health extremist” in your Orwellian-English-to-standard-English dictionary, and you’ll find “citizen activist who sees no reason why Planned Parenthood should get tax dollars.” What’s not to like?

Introducing Michael Tierney: husband, father, Contoocook resident, Republican, land-use attorney, and candidate for Executive Council district 2. He can do the math on state spending, and he believes that an Executive Councilor should take seriously the responsibility of scrutinizing state contracts and contractors.

The NHDP doesn’t give a hoot about Tierney’s day job. Their gripe is over his pro bono work as an allied attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund. In that capacity, Tierney has given Planned Parenthood of Northern New England fits. Does he blockade clinic doorways? Does he give fiery speeches threatening hellfire and damnation to all who enter the premises? No, he’s worse: he asks for documentation of PPNNE grants and expenditures, and he doesn’t take no for an answer.

The Executive Council shocked PPNNE by rejecting its Title X contract proposal last year, and the legislature added to PPNNE’s unease by considering a bill to keep state funds away from abortion providers. PP’s New Hampshire PR machine had to go into overdrive, and it squeaked mightily as it cranked out the usual tripe: only 3% of our services are abortion, we don’t use public money for abortion, we help so many people, you’re just antichoice, and so forth. 

Tierney was undeterred. He recognized that a contract going to an abortion provider for other-than-abortion work frees up other funds to use for the abortion part of the enterprise. When the federal government sidestepped the Executive Council and awarded PPNNE a grant, Tierney, representing New Hampshire Right to Life, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all documentation relating to the grant. This began a long and grinding discovery process that is still ongoing, and it has turned up matters that raise other questions about PPNNE operations. This has earned Tierney the title of “extremist” from the NHDP, and I’m sure worse is coming as the Executive Council campaign moves forward.

Tierney understands the need for accountability for the use of taxpayer dollars, he is politely tenacious, and he doesn’t fold when someone calls him names. In those respects, he’d be a worthy successor to retiring Councilor Dan St. Hilaire (R-Concord), who unexpectedly started all the fuss last year by being the third and deciding vote to reject PPNNE’s Title X proposal. (Ten other Title X contracts went through without a hitch that day – just not the one with northern New England’s chief abortion provider.)

This is a redistricting year, and the New Hampshire House and Senate have agreed on new electoral maps, after the customary decennial wrangling. The Executive Council’s District 2 is now an amazing piece of work. With the addition of Keene and Durham, the seat now seems to be gift-wrapped for presentation to the Democratic nominee. What’s more, the district has been gerrymandered to stretch from Durham in the east to Hinsdale in the far southwestern corner of the state, with towns from six of the state’s ten counties. Campaigning will be a challenge for all the candidates, and winning the district will be a tall order for a Republican.

Thanks to Michael Tierney, PPNNE’s political protectors cannot take district 2 for granted. There’s going to be a real race here.