Lynch Vetoes Partial-Birth Abortion Ban; Override to Be Attempted 6/27

Late Friday afternoon, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch announced his veto of a bill to ban partial-birth abortion. The House and Senate will consider overrides to this and other vetoes on June 27.

After becoming the longest-serving New Hampshire governor in nearly two centuries, and after building a reputation as a moderate politician, he has chosen to end his tenure by defending the indefensible. John Lynch is pleasant, intelligent, cheerful, savvy, and friendly. But moderate? No politician who keeps the way clear for this kind of carnage is “moderate.”

The New Hampshire bill, HB 1679, was originally introduced by Rep. Ross Terrio (R-Manchester) as a ban on the partial-birth procedure and a ban on all late-term abortions. Soon after introduction, Terrio agreed to amend the bill so that it addressed only partial-birth. This put the bill in line with similar legislation in force in other states. The bill was drafted to complement federal law and to withstand court challenges. In a spirit of compromise and cooperation, supporters of the bill agreed to amendments that helped to build strong majorities for passage in House and Senate.

None of this figured into Governor Lynch’s veto. While beginning his statement with the assurance “I am not a proponent of so-called partial birth abortion”, he went on to reject the bill because he found it unnecessary and dangerous, in that order.

The federal ban means none is needed at the state level, according to the governor. He overlooked or ignored the fact that the federal law is only triggered if the partial-birth procedure is committed by a federal employee, or by someone on federal property, or by someone engaged in interstate commerce. He also made no mention of the fact that federal officials may choose not to enforce the federal law, leaving states without their own partial-birth bans helpless to stop the procedure.

Governor Lynch expressed fear that HB 1679 would jeopardize the life of a woman in emergency circumstances. He was critical of the bill’s requirement that two physicians agree that life-threatening conditions exist before a partial-birth procedure can be done. Getting that second opinion could cost a woman her life, he fears.

But how? The partial-birth ban would apply only to a particular procedure, not to all abortion methods. Any physician declaring an emergency could terminate a pregnancy without a second opinion, presumably with the pregnant woman’s consent, using any method other than the one that pulls the live child/fetus partway out of the woman’s body before “termination.” The governor’s objection sounds as though he means that women are at risk if that procedure is ruled out. (If the governor had true concern for women’s health and safety, he would direct the state department of public health to collect statistics on abortion in New Hampshire, so that he would have hard data to buttress any assertion that abortion is safe for women.)

Roe v. Wade established a woman’s right to choose abortion. According to the U.S. Supreme Court in the Gonzales case, Roe did not establish a provider’s right to kill a child after assisting a woman in a vaginal delivery of a portion of the child’s body. Or should I say fetus’s? Tough call, when the child/fetus is half-in and half-out of the mother. In any case, the Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on the partial-birth procedure. The Court decided that while the ban prevented the performance of one particularly gruesome and inhumane procedure, it did not amount to a denial of a woman’s choice since alternative abortion methods are available. Note that the federal law and New Hampshire bill apply to abortion providers, not to women seeking termination of pregnancy.

Having issued the veto, John Lynch is beyond persuasion. Representatives and state senators are not.

The governor’s full statement on HB 1679 is at http://1.usa.gov/MdosTR

“Go Back To The Drawing Board” on HHS Mandate

I was privileged to be invited to speak on behalf of Cornerstone Policy Research at today’s Standing Up for Religious Freedom rally in Concord. I hope the other speakers will post their remarks as well, and if they do, I’ll link to them. We saw a lot of thumbs-up from  drivers going past. Apparently, the message is getting out there, even in Concord. Here are the remarks I delivered.

June 2012: religious freedom rally in Concord (with Catherine Adair)
June 2012: religious freedom rally in Concord (with Catherine Adair)

We’re gathering on the anniversary of a special day in our nation’s history. Two Hundred Twenty-Three years ago today, James Madison gave Congress his proposal for the Bill of Rights. We’re here today in defense of the very first clause in the First Amendment: protection of the free exercise of religion.

In March, Americans in 140 cities including Concord stood up for religious freedom, moved by the Health and Human Services Mandate. Today, people are standing up in 160 cities. More and more Americans recognize that the mandate is not about women and not about a particular church. It’s about the federal government effectively rewriting the First Amendment.

Start with health care plans in which we all must participate under penalty of law. Make “preventive care” free to a patient, with no co-pay. Further, include contraception, abortive drugs, and female sterilization in the list of what is “preventive”. The result of such a plan: we all subsidize these procedures for the women who choose to use them.

What if I embrace a religious belief that says these things are immoral? What if I run a business and want to provide health insurance to my employees without subsidizing these procedures? What if I’m a woman who rejects the bad science & bad medicine behind the belief that a healthy woman’s body needs chronic chemical alteration?

Our president and our secretary of health and human services say “too bad,” and Congress is so far nodding meekly. Agree that women’s fertility is a disease, or else pay a penalty, they say.

We say “Go back to the drawing board.”

Our current President and his HHS Secretary tried unsuccessfully to buy off the Catholic church in America with an “exemption” for religious employers. They even tried to tell that church what a religious employer looks like: a business operated by a certain religion that serves only those of the same religion.

Stop right there. You have no right to tell me what my faith means, and you may not penalize me or my employer or my church for acting on our beliefs.

This is critical. Voters are watching. Any policy that pushes any religion to the margins and seeks to extract a penalty from its adherents is unconstitutional. If one religion is threatened, we are all threatened.

The Administration is welcoming comments from the public on the mandate, until June 19.  Here’s my comment – the same one I made in March: my faith is not a crime, a woman’s fertility is not a disease, and this mandate has got to go.  

I don’t like using the term “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The fact is that this health care law is neither protective nor affordable. It claims to protect my family’s health, but does so at the price of our First Amendment protections. It claims to be affordable, but in fact by threatening the operation of the most extensive health care network in the country – the network of religiously-affiliated health care facilities – it will restrict access to health care and thus drive up costs. Poor women, single mothers, and children with chronic illnesses will be hit first and hardest. “Affordable” would be a sick joke.

What do I want to see? An end to the mandate. You think pregnancy is a disease and women’s fertility should be suppressed? Go ahead and act on those beliefs for yourself, and make a co-pay. If you think a co-pay is a war on women, wait until you hear from the women who know the mandate is a war on religion. Do not expect me to call contraception & sterilization & abortive drugs “preventive.” Do not threaten to penalize people of faith because of their faith. You exercise your beliefs and let me exercise mine. That’s right – turn the clock all the way back to January 2012.

I am grateful that New Hampshire’s people of faith are getting support from some elected officials. I am grateful to religious leaders who have spoken peacefully and relentlessly against the mandate   But you and I would be wrong to depend on anyone else to carry the banner for us. We will be wrong to depend on a political party to fix everything. We will be wrong to expect a pastor to do our work for us. We each need to claim the protection of the Bill of Rights, without apology. We each need make our case to our neighbors who don’t yet understand what the fuss is about. It’s up to you and me as Americans to let our leaders know that we will not trade away the First Amendment for our family’s medical security, and we take a very dim view any politician who thinks we should.

Don’t wait for media coverage of this event and this debate. BE the coverage. Keep spreading the news.

I make a special appeal to people of faith who oppose this mandate and are in one of two specific callings: professional health care, and caring at home for a loved one with medical challenges. People who are pushing for this mandate are counting on you to back them up, or at least to stay silent. This is not the time for silence. You have experience and credibility. Tell the world what you know about health care, and what you know about your faith, and why this mandate interferes with both.

We are not alone in speaking out. On May 21, 43 plaintiffs filed a total of twelve lawsuits in various U.S. District Courts. Yesterday, when the White House had an online town hall meeting on women’s health and invited people to submit questions via Facebook, women opposing the mandate took to the Internet in Droves. It was ironic that the video feed showed a room full of women all on board with the “Affordable” Care Act – while the women speaking out on the Facebook feed were nearly all opposed to it, with the mandate being the #1 concern.

Take the encouragement you find here today and bring it to your town, your neighbors, your pastors, and especially your elected representatives. Thank you.

Friday Rally In Concord – Pass It On!

Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally, Concord NH, Federal Courthouse at the corner of Pleasant & South Streets, Friday 6/8 at noon. Go tweet that to your friends & neighbors and – this is important – your pastors & your elected representatives. Facebook it. Get on the phone about it. The event will last one hour. Signs will be available there. Bring your kids, & dress for the weather. Logistical details are at the end of this post.

I’ll ask nicely by adding PLEASE. But let’s not be so nice that we stay home. The HHS mandate is still coming as part of Obamacare, regardless of what you’ve heard about “accommodation” for religious institutions.  As with a similar rally day on March 23, people in over 130 U.S. cities will stand up on Friday and say no to the mandate.

Brief summary of life under the yet-to-be-fully-implemented mandate: Health insurance will be mandatory for all. Pregnancy will apparently be classified as a disease, since contraceptives and abortifacient drugs will be counted as “preventive care.” Preventive care will be free to the consumer, meaning all participants in the system will subsidize it via premiums. Institutions seeking exemptions on religious grounds can go whistle Dixie, since the federal government will be the sole arbiter of what is and is not a sufficiently “religious” organization.

The recent lawsuits filed in twelve federal courts by over 40 Catholic institutions against implementation of the mandate probably surprised a few D.C. bureaucrats. I hope they get surprised again when more lawsuits are filed, as other religious entities and people of faith realize that this mandate attacks all religions. Even our neighbors who profess no religious faith whatsoever have reason to be concerned when the First Amendment is threatened.

Litigation should never be a first response, of course, and these lawsuits were certainly not filed in haste. Catholic leaders sought a dialogue with the president and Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resolve their concerns. No dice.  The federal government and its workers, once mobilized, are loath to change course.

And so we take to the streets and the courts, peaceful and resolute. Please join me.

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Concord details: parking is not allowed in the courthouse lot or at Sacred Heart Church across the street, but on-street parking is available nearby. Bring a few quarters. The rally will be held on a sidewalk, without shelter or restrooms, so plan accordingly. If it’s a warm day, you’ll want to bring a bottle of water. And if you’re ready for lunch afterward, Concord’s Main Street has a number of options; if fast food is more your thing, head south on Main Street towards exit 13 for I-93.

 

Week in Review: Hurry Up & Wait

As previously reported, the Senate last Wednesday passed HCR 31, commending pregnancy care centers. This straightforward legislative pat on the back to an invaluable pro-life resource must go to the House for agreement on some changes.

HB 217, fetal homicide, was put off by the Senate until next Wednesday. The amendment printed in the calendar should not create any further delay, but then again, there have already been two delays that caught me and the chief sponsor by surprise.

HCR 41 was killed in the Senate. This resolution asking Congress to scold the feds for funding PPNNE over the objections of the Executive Council would have had no substantive effect but would have sent a message to our Washington representatives.

Legislators annoyed by the financial end-run in PPNNE’s favor should now focus on HB 228. There will be other contract proposals before the Exec Council, and HB 228 sits on the table in the Senate. That’s not a good place for it.

Fate unknown, possibly being taken up this week:

  • HB 1679, partial-birth abortion ban. House & Senate must reconcile language.
  • HB 1653, respecting conscience rights for medical professionals, was tabled by the House months ago and seems unlikely to be taken up.

The legislative session runs through the end of June, but the state budget dominates the last weeks of a session. The life bills are likely to be dealt with soon.

The House will meet next week on Tuesday & Wednesday, and possibly Thursday if the lengthy calendar requires that much time. The Senate will meet Wednesday.

O’Keefe: “I’m here to tell you how to do it”

James O’Keefe is a muckraker, prankster, or crusading journalist, depending on  your point of view.  He and his Project Veritas  came to New Hampshire & found that getting a presidential primary ballot was so easy in some towns that even a deceased voter could do it. Governor Lynch and Attorney General Delaney are not fans of O’Keefe & his work. O’Keefe posted on Facebook yesterday that Delaney has “attempted to serve a criminal subpoena” on him.

Lynch & Delaney ought to be thanking O’Keefe. Even if New Hampshire’s election laws are sound, O’Keefe has at the very least shown that the implementation of those laws can be careless. I’d hate to see the state go after O’Keefe without going after the irregularities he highlighted.

I heard O’Keefe speak at SNHU a few months ago. He looked tired. He must have been on a lecture circuit that had kept him on the road for awhile. The hall was full of Tea Partiers who were enthusiastic fans of what O’Keefe had accomplished with his ACORN videos. He took questions after his speech, and someone called out, “What’s your next project?” O’Keefe, the tired kid, replied a bit impatiently, “I’m not here to tell you what I’m doing next. I’m here to tell you how to do it.” He went on to say that he borrowed $2000 on his credit card to get the equipment to make his first video. He didn’t need anyone’s permission. He just acquired the equipment and went to work.

I was impressed. The last thing he wanted was for all of us to tell him how great he was. He wanted us to get busy.

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