Roses and Resolve

It didn’t start with New York.

Video of New York legislators cheering after the January 22 passage of a pro-abortion law leaves an indelible impression. It certainly kicked up a fuss on my social media feed, as one person after another expressed shock that elected officials could celebrate abortion so publicly.

New Hampshire got there first, as a former state representative called to remind me.

Phyllis Woods
Phyllis Woods

Phyllis Woods of Dover was and is a woman who puts her belief in human dignity into practice every day. Being a state representative, as great an honor as that was, was just a waypoint on her journey of service. She told me recently about the day a bill to prevent partial-birth abortion came to a vote in 2000. Phyllis was chief sponsor, joined by nine co-sponsors.

Yes, 2000. That’s twelve years before New Hampshire legislators finally passed a partial-birth law banning the abortion practice of partially delivering children before killing them.

The docket for the bill in 2000 tells part of the story: the House defeated the bill on an “inexpedient to legislate” motion, 185-176. What the docket doesn’t mention, and what I never knew until Phyllis told me, is what happened right after the vote: one of her colleagues, an abortion advocate opposed to banning the killing of partially-delivered children, handed out roses to representatives who helped kill the bill.

That colleague, a Rochester Democrat, is still in office, serving her 16th term. She sits on the Judiciary Committee, where she recently voted to recommend killing an effort to repeal buffer zones that limit peaceful activity near abortion facilities.

In 2000, Phyllis was devastated to see fellow representatives celebrating like that. If they had spiked a football right there on the House floor they couldn’t have been more contemptuous not only of the bill but of its supporters.

That wasn’t the end of the story, of course. It was a bad day. But Phyllis is a woman of resolve and vision.

She was among the sponsors of a 2003 law calling for parental notification for minors seeking abortion. The law was challenged in court, and was eventually repealed. Later, after her time in the House, she encouraged parental notification supporters to try again. In 2011, another parental notification law passed, and it is still in place. Not even a veto by Gov. John Lynch could derail it.

She encouraged partial-birth legislation after she left the House, and she was around to celebrate when the legislature in 2012 overrode yet another Lynch veto and passed a partial-birth ban into law.

Phyllis continues to serve her community in many ways that have nothing to do with politics. She has a heart for her neighbors. I mention her political work only because it illustrates something easy to forget at the State House: opponents are gonna oppose. Sometimes they’ll be rude about it. Be of steadfast heart anyway.

Those roses on the New Hampshire House floor in 2000 were meant to silence and discourage everyone speaking out in defense of life. For Phyllis Woods, that indecorous in-your-face gesture strengthened her resolve.

Facts About N.H. Abortion Laws

(Note: This is based on a post I wrote for Cornerstone Action, which kindly gave me permission to re-post here.)

New York’s governor ordered buildings to be illuminated in pink lights on January 22, in celebration of state law he had just signed eliminating most limitations on abortion. Legislators in Virginia and Vermont are ready to follow suit with radically anti-life policies.

Think it couldn’t happen in New Hampshire? The grim fact is that it already has. New Hampshire is one of the most abortion-friendly states in the country. Here are the facts.

How far into pregnancy are abortions permitted in New Hampshire?

  • Abortions are legal, unrestricted, and unregulated throughout all 40 weeks of pregnancy in New Hampshire.
  • As recently as 2017 and 2018, legislators rejected bills that would have provided protection for viable preborn children.

What laws in New Hampshire affect abortion now?

  • New Hampshire has a parental notification statute. When a minor seeks abortion, she needs to notify a parent or guardian, or else use a “judicial bypass” in which a judge determines she is mature enough to make her own decision. The law calls for notification, not consent.
  • New Hampshire bans the barbaric abortion method known as partial-birth abortion or dilation-&-extraction, in which a child is delivered partway before being killed. This ban was passed in 2012.
  • As of early 2019, New Hampshire policy limits the use of Medicaid funds for abortion.
  • New Hampshire adopted a fetal homicide statute in 2017, allowing prosecutors the option of filing homicide charges against a person whose bad actions cause the death of a preborn child against the mother’s will. While not an abortion law, it was bitterly opposed by abortion advocates.

How many abortions are performed in New Hampshire annually?

  • No one knows, and that includes state lawmakers. New Hampshire does not have an abortion statistics law, despite the fact that the federal Centers for Disease Control attempts to collect abortion data. Forty-seven other states manage to collect and report such data, while protecting the anonymity and privacy of individual women obtaining abortions.
  • New Hampshire public health officials have no reliable data on the age of women seeking abortion, the stage of pregnancy at which abortions are performed, and whether women are experiencing abortion complications.

How many doctors do abortions in New Hampshire?

  • No one knows, since public health authorities do not collect any data on abortions.
  • There is no requirement that abortion providers in New Hampshire have any medical training or certification whatsoever.

Do New Hampshire state public health authorities inspect abortion facilities?

  • No, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. From a May 19, 2013 report in the New Hampshire Sunday News: “Kris Neilsen, communications director for the state Department of Health and Human Services, explained in an email that abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood and the Concord Feminist Health Center are exempt from state licensing and inspection requirements because they are considered physician offices. Twenty-three health care providers such as hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, and dialysis centers are licensed by the state, but not abortion clinics. ‘In New Hampshire, there is no such thing as an abortion clinic – the majority of abortions are done in doctors offices … and doctors’ offices are exempt from licensure under RSA 151:2 II,’ Neilsen said. ‘Because they are exempt, we have no jurisdiction over them, and neither does anyone else.’”

Who sets standards for abortion facilities?

  • The abortion providers themselves determine what standards to use. Since there is no law that providers have any medical training, those “standards” need not relate in any way to women’s health.

What’s the rate of post-abortion complications experienced by New Hampshire women?

  • No one knows, since lawmakers refuse to demand abortion statistics and public health officials decline to collect them. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” sums it up.

Does New Hampshire law protect children who survive attempted abortion?

  • No. Children who survive attempted abortion are not entitled to any more care than the abortionist wishes to provide. A bill to recognize a duty to care for such infants was defeated by the New Hampshire House in 2016.

Does New Hampshire law recognize the conscience rights of health care personnel who choose not to participate in abortion?

  • No. A bill to provide conscience protections was killed in the New Hampshire House in 2018. Health care professionals in New Hampshire can lose their jobs and be subject to professional sanctions for refusing to assist in abortions.

How did New Hampshire become such a haven for abortion providers?

  • In 1997, then-Governor (now U.S. Senator) Jeanne Shaheen signed a law repealing New Hampshire’s 19th-century anti-abortion laws. She did so knowing full well that no updated laws were in place. With a stroke of her pen, and with the cooperation of legislators, New Hampshire abortion regulation disappeared. So did concern for the health of women obtaining abortions. So did concern for preborn children, even moments away from birth.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can help turn a culture of abortion into a culture that respects and nurtures life, especially in its most vulnerable stages.

  • Share the message: Knowledge is power, and many people don’t know the facts about abortion in New Hampshire.
  • Pray. Join with your faith community. A culture of prayer will lead to a culture of life.
  • Politicians bear a great deal of responsibility for New Hampshire’s abortion-friendly laws, but blaming Concord won’t help. What will help is electing representatives at all levels of government who respect the right to life, and who care about the health of pregnant women and their children. Vote for candidates who recognize that New Hampshire law relative to abortion must be changed.
  • Consider running for local or state office.
  • Work within your community to create and sustain life-affirming options for women and children at risk from abortion. Contact your local pro-life pregnancy care center to learn about practical ways you can help.

(The original version of this post contained an incorrect alternative term for partial-birth abortion. This version contains corrected information.)

On trusting women: written 5 years ago, still too apt

Facebook’s On This Day feature served up a blast from the past today. I wrote a certain post five years ago, on International Women’s Day, a month before starting this blog,  This was before I went freelance, and at that time I was working for New Hampshire’s Cornerstone Action.

I had just spent a day at the State House monitoring some life-issue votes. There were a lot of “Trust Women” stickers being sported by women who didn’t trust me. The tone at the State House hasn’t changed appreciably since then, through changes in party majorities.

By the way, by the time that 2012 session was over, New Hampshire had a partial-birth abortion ban. It wasn’t easy, and it required an override of John Lynch’s veto. Nevertheless, it was done.

You can find the full post at Granite Grok.

On Women and Trust

The hallways in the state house were lined on Wednesday with people sporting stickers emblazoned with the slogans “Trust Women” and “Stop the War on Women.” Such exhortations give me pause, inasmuch as I’m a woman, and none of my sticker-clad fellow citizens seemed inclined to trust me.

Imagine, if you will, a band of citizens bearing stickers saying “Trust Men.” Passersby would immediately think “trust men to do what?” The men wearing such stickers would be laughed out of the state house. Women wearing such stickers would have my pity, along with my fervent hope that some serious consciousness-raising would take place before the next election.

So back to trusting women. Many of Wednesday’s citizens bearing the “Trust Women” message also held signs for NARAL Pro-Choice NH and Planned Parenthood. Aha. Now I get it: the stickers are telling elected officials to trust the women who support so-called pro-choice policies. Other women are not invited to the trustfest….

I was called a neanderthal this morning at the state house by someone who saw that I was not there to support the bogus “Trust Women” campaign. I was asked “how can you call yourself a woman?” I’ve spent 30 years in the thick of civic engagement, and it takes more than being outnumbered & verbally abused to make me go away. Still, it’s telling that a fellow citizen can look at me and see not a woman or a neighbor but a neanderthal. Civility, anyone?

Head to Granite Grok for the full post.

PP doctor spills the beans – and still the tax dollars keep flowing

[Update: see Abby Johnson’s open message to Dr. Nucatola: “I used to harvest fetal tissue for Planned Parenthood just like you”]

Want to crash your web site? Post a video of a Planned Parenthood doctor dining on a salad while she describes how the fetal-body-parts market fits into PP’s business model. A pair of undercover reporters posing as buyers for a biologics company captured the conversation on video for The Center for Medical Progress. The video was released today. The Center’s web site looks like this at the moment:

center for medical progress 404

 

Allow me. Here are nine minutes of video that manage to be harrowing without a single graphic bloody image.

Let Dr. Nucatola’s words come back to you the next time you see a “Care, No Matter What” sign.

Planned Parenthood has issued a response to the video. (It’s a hoot to hear PP use the term “well-funded group” as an epithet.) From Eric Ferraro, VP of Communications for Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different. At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does — with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards. There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or Planned Parenthood. In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field.

“A well-funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and services has promoted a heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research. Similar false accusations have been put forth by opponents of abortion services for decades. These groups have been widely discredited and their claims fall apart on closer examination, just as they do in this case.”

Did you catch the “lifesaving scientific research” part? Probably won’t help the dead child much. And did you notice that “fetal” never made it into the statement next to “tissue”?

Here in New Hampshire, the Executive Council will meet on July 22. In June, the Council approved family planning contracts with several agencies, but Planned Parenthood of Northern New England was conspicuous by its absence from the agenda. The biennial family planning contract for PP is usually worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Will such a contract come up on the 22nd? If it does, will Dr. Nucatola’s words give the slightest pause to the three Councilors whose support for Planned Parenthood is already a matter of public record?

 

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.