Math, Marches, & Minorities

The turkeys and pies will barely be cleared away before new legislators have their orientation days next week.  Legislative service (bill-drafting) requests are due December 7.  The 2013 session is in sight.

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I’ll have more to say about this in an upcoming post, but the math doesn’t look good for New Hampshire’s parental notification law. Looking at the Senate alone, only nine of the seventeen senators who passed the law over Gov. Lynch’s veto are coming back. The two Republicans who opposed the bill, Sens. Odell and Stiles, were re-elected. Any repeal attempt will of course be grist for the campaign mill in 2014.

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The NHGOP will elect a new chair in two months. As an undeclared voter, this ought to be mere spectator sport for me. Instead, as a pro-life activist who has worked with terrific Republicans, I care very much about the outcome. No predictions or recommendations here,  just plenty of  interest and curiosity.

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The national March for Life will be on January 25, marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. (Logistical concerns about proximity to the presidential inauguration date prompted a move from the actual anniversary date, January 22.) When I see information about buses to the March from New Hampshire, I’ll put it here in LfL. Information about New Hampshire’s own March, usually held the weekend before the national March, will be forthcoming as well.

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With the nomination of Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) to be Minority Leader, I’m guessing that New Hampshire’s House Republicans will not put a high priority on the life issues.  I expect the Democratic majority will, in a backward sort of way.

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One of the most delightful threads to read from my Facebook feed over the past couple of days has been the outpouring of congratulations to former Rep. D.J. Bettencourt of Salem and his wife Shannon on the birth of their first child, Ava. It’s simple, straightforward good news.

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Outgoing Speaker and recently re-elected Rep. Bill O’Brien of Mont Vernon prevailed in a general-election recount requested by the woman who finished just behind him: Kary Jencks, former lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

With recounts finished, the state senate will have 13 Republicans and 11 Democrats. In the House, the tally is 179 Republicans, 221 Democrats. The Executive Council has two Republicans and three Democrats. Note that both of the Republicans (Ray Burton and Chris Sununu) have voted to keep taxpayer dollars flowing to PPNNE, and they will undoubtedly be joined by the three newcomers in any 2013-2014 PPNNE contract votes.

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So what’s the civility quotient going to be in the State House come January?

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There ought to be more integration between campaign life and “real” life. As it stands, I am just now finally back into a routine with my family after four months of using my house for six hours of sleep and one midnight snack every 24 hours. The family loves me anyway. I have much for which to be grateful. I wish the same for my readers.

 

 

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. 

About Time: an Alternative to Guttmacher Institute

I note with great pleasure the rollout of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. The Lozier Institute is the education and research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List, which promotes the election of pro-life women and men to Congress. The Lozier Institute looks to me like a breakthrough in policy research.

For years, the Guttmacher Institute has been relied upon by policymakers at all levels for statistical information about abortion and reproductive health care (which are two different things – repeat after me: abortion is not health care). Formerly an arm of Planned Parenthood, the organizations allegedly split in the late 1970s. However formal the split may be in a legal and financial sense, Guttmacher is hand-in-glove with PP on policy.

Guttmacher’s statistics and findings are given entirely too much credence at the State House, as I’ve seen through the years. I have to remind lawmakers from time to time that any “statistics” Guttmacher reports about New Hampshire are based on voluntarily-reported information from abortion providers, since the state of NH does not collect abortion statistics. Most of the NH statistical information reported to Guttmacher about abortions comes from PPNNE. PPNNE then sends its lobbyist to Concord to fight efforts to enact a bill to require the state to collect statistics. PP-reported figures go to Guttmacher, which bases policy research on those numbers, and then the research is used by PP to advance its mission. Fuzzy math, cozy relationship.

I am looking forward to learning what the Lozier Institute is able to do to provide a clearer picture of how abortion is affecting us as individuals and as a community. It’s encouraging to know that the parent organization, SBA List, has been extremely supportive of efforts in NH and elsewhere to require public health authorities to gather accurate information. How many abortions in NH? How old are the mothers? At what gestational age are pregnancies terminated? What about morbidity and mortality for the mothers, both short- and long-term? Who’s doing these procedures? Where?

I recommend supporting the Lozier Institute’s research. It will take time, but I hope legislators and public health officials will soon see that Guttmacher isn’t the only kid on the block.

Pregnancy Care Resolution Gets NH Senate OK

Midday report from the NH Senate: HCR 31, the resolution commending pregnancy care centers, passed on a voice vote. I heard Sen. Larsen say “no” quietly; other opponents were either quieter or silent. It will go back to the House for concurrence on a Senate amendment, which should NOT be complicated, but then again nothing going on between the chambers is uncomplicated nowadays.

HCR 41, the resolution calling on Congress to declare the end-run grant to PPNNE “unconstitutional and void”, went down to defeat on a 20-4 inexpedient-to-legislate vote. My thanks to Sens. Forrester, Forsythe, Barnes, & DeBlois for resisting the ITL.

Next up: HB 217, fetal homicide. Tune in again after 1:30 this afternoon.

How to Mount An Effective Counter-Demonstration

Our stalwart neighbors at PPNNE are excitedly tweeting about a rally in NH to be held Saturday: a Unite Against The War On Women Rally! (Exclamation point theirs.)

I am not going to call for a counter-demonstration. NH pro-lifers had one yesterday: the state senate passed a ban on partial-birth abortion – a bill that PPNNE fought tooth & nail from the day it was introduced. Yesterday’s vote was the fruit of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.

That’s my kind of demonstration.