Leaven’s hitting the campaign trail


Are you a New Hampshire candidate? Do you hear footsteps & a slightly out-of-breath person gaining on you? Don’t be alarmed. It’s only me.

The statewide candidate filing period is almost over, and I’m about to go in search of candidates who have something to say to pro-life New Hampshire voters. Republicans, Democrats, state office, federal office, incumbents, challengers: I’ll listen to anyone who’ll take a few questions.

Senate candidates Jim Rubens, Bob Smith, and Karen Testerman got in ahead of the crowd. I love living in a state where people running for U.S. Senate take the time to be interviewed one-on-one by a local blogger. (Scott Brown, are you listening?)

I’ll be in touch with candidates or their staff as the campaign gets rolling. I know I can’t reach everyone, but I’ll do my best. Leaven’s readers are a politically savvy bunch, and they vote. Candidates, give them a reason to vote for you.

Readers, who do you want to hear from?

Business hours? Just chillin’.

Once in force – meaning as soon as Governor Hassan signs it – New Hampshire’s buffer zone law will put “up to 25 feet” between abortion facilities and people who wish to give silent, prayerful witness against the carnage.

The zone will only apply during business hours, according to the soon-to-be law. So what are the business hours?

Are they hours posted on the door of an abortion facility? If so, prolifers won’t be able to read them, since they can’t approach the facility unless they’re heading inside as an employer, client, contractor, or public employee such as a police officer.

Are they hours posted online? What if a pro-life witness comes in good faith to stand within 25 feet of the facility, only to discover that the hours posted online have changed? Written warning, I suppose – and any subsequent infringement, whether it’s five minutes or five years away, would mean a citation and a minimum $100 fine.

What if a facility stays open late or opens earlier than usual for some reason – a patient needing extra time, for instance? How will anyone know that there’s “business” being conducted?

We already know that the size of a particular zone will be up to the individual abortion facility. Sounds like hours of zone enforcement will be up each facility, too, in the absence of clear posting of hours on the outside of a facility, visible from the edge of the “buffer.”

Of course, every business controls its own hours. That’s as it should be. The trouble with applying that to a buffer zone law: now, selected businesses will be able to control access to public property at all hours, simply by announcing that “business” is going on, even retroactively. A pro-life witness present in good faith outside a facility, thinking she’s legal because it’s after hours, could find herself cited. All it would take is an abortion facility employee calling the police to claim that “business” was being conducted at the time the witness was present.

“So stay 25 feet away 24/7,” someone might say.

That’s what’s known as a chilling effect.

NH Bill to protect assault survivors’ parental rights will soon become law

Leaven for the Loaf carried a report eleven days ago about SB 253, a New Hampshire bill to prevent rapists from seeking custody or visitation rights to their children conceived by rape. The testimony of rape survivor Shauna Prewitt, who chose life for her baby, testimony was still fresh in legislators’ minds when House and Senate conferees sat down recently to iron out their differences with the bill. I’m happy to report that SB 253 looks like it will be law soon. The amended language is not yet online but should be available shortly via the bill’s web page.

Thirty-one states allow rapists to sue for custody. That list will be cut to thirty within a few weeks.

There were six co-sponsors of SB 253, led by Sen. Bette Lasky (D-Nashua). The two I find most interesting, considered side-by-side, are Sens. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) and Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry.) Soucy is of course the prime legislative mover of the soon-to-be-signed buffer zone bill. Carson was the Senate’s most impassioned critic of the buffer zone bill as an attack on the First Amendment.




Learning to count: stats bill “interim study” work session next week, open to the public

Rep. Kathleen Souza, chief sponsor of HB 1502 (photo courtesy nhcornerstone.org, http://bit.ly/1oFtmiM)
Rep. Kathleen Souza, chief sponsor of HB 1502 (photo courtesy nhcornerstone.org, http://bit.ly/1oFtmiM)

New Hampshire’s House Bill 1502, calling for collection of abortion statistics, will finally get some follow-up on June 3. Last March, the House voted to send the bill to interim study. Three members of the Health, Human Services & Elderly Affairs committee said they were committed to following through. The public is welcome to attend the committee’s work session on the bill Tuesday, June 3, 3:15 p.m. in room 205 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

I plan to be there. I think an audience is in order. The more scrutiny this process gets, the better.

At work sessions, there can be give-and-take. People with specialized knowledge in a particular area might be invited to provide information to the committee. Who will be the specialists on call for abortion statistics? The same people who have lobbied for years to kill such bills? We’ll see.

What I wrote in March still holds.

If you cared about women’s health, why wouldn’t you want to know how abortion affects it? Why won’t the Granite State collect and report abortion statistics to the Centers for Disease Control, as nearly every other state does?

In New Hampshire, the absence of reporting requirements screams “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Let’s not talk about how many women and adolescents choose abortion. We don’t want the public to know if anyone has post-abortive complications or if a particular provider is a Gosnell-in-waiting. No need to know if late-term abortions are happening.

It’s time for New Hampshire legislators and public health officials to shrug off old attitudes. It’s time to stop relying on voluntary reporting by abortion providers, who are happy to provide data to the private Alan Guttmacher Institute while fighting to block state reporting requirements.

On a New Hampshire Public Radio call-in show this morning, an abortion provider from Bedford phoned in to say, “The statistics are known. Abortion is safe. I’m sort of upset about these continued attacks on women’s rights.”

No, doctor. The statistics are not known. They’re guessed at. There is no reporting requirement. And the fact that a doctor can call this an attack on women’s rights underscores how thoroughly the abortion industry has co-opted what used to be an unquestionably honorable profession.

The states that report statistics to the CDC don’t all collect the same information. Some states track the number of abortions, period. Others seek more detail. Some New Hampshire abortion providers expressed concern at the hearing on HB 1502 that statistical collection might not preserve anonymity for women and for providers. To them, I say look to other states and see how they get the job done.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England covers Vermont and Maine as well as New Hampshire. At the hearing on HB 1502, one committee member asked the PPNNE lobbyist if statistics were collected in the other two states. She said yes – and went on to object to HB 1502 anyway.

“Interim study” can mean “file and forget.” This time, a legislator speaking for a committee has said “the committee is committed to collect any meaningful health data in an aggregated form.”

The marker is down. Let’s see what happens.

HB 1502 is a bipartisan bill with eight sponsors: Reps. Souza (R-Manchester), Notter (R-Merrimack), Peterson (R-Merrimack), LeBrun (R-Nashua), Kappler (R-Raymond), Baldasaro (R-Londonderry), Hopper (R-Weare), and Berube (D-Somersworth).