N.H. Legislators Try Again to Repeal Death Penalty

Two years after repeal of New Hampshire’s death penalty law failed on a tie vote in the Senate, the Senate has approved SB 593 on a 14-10 vote. The bill would change the penalty for capital murder to life imprisonment without the possibility for parole.

SB 593 has been assigned to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee where a hearing is yet to be scheduled.

SB 593 has a long bipartisan list of co-sponsors, led by Sen. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua). In an op-ed published in the New Hampshire Union Leader two days before the Senate vote, Sen. Avard wrote about his reason for introducing the legislation. An excerpt:

SINCE THE DEATH penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1973, for every 10 people who have been executed across the country, one person has been exonerated. Can we continue to live with a 10 percent wrongful conviction rate in capital punishment cases? I cannot, which is why I have introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty in New Hampshire.

I have reached the point where no argument made in favor of capital punishment can overcome the reality that having the death penalty inevitably means that innocent people have been and will continue to be wrongfully convicted and executed. The only way to guarantee that the innocent are not wrongfully executed is to abolish capital punishment.

A Union Leader news report published the day after the Senate hearing on the bill said that people testifying in opposition included the president of the N.H. Chiefs of Police Association, the chief steward of the Manchester Police Patrolmen’s Association and president of the New Hampshire Police Association. The report also said that Governor Chris Sununu has threatened to veto the bill in the form passed by the Senate.

Free Speech Case Could Affect Pregnancy Care Centers

Arguments in NIFLA v. Becerra will be heard at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 20. At issue is a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to display information on how to obtain subsidized abortions.

Here’s a recent GrokTalk podcast in which I discuss the case with Steve MacDonald of Granite Grok.
Listen to “The First Amendment Doesn't Apply to You If You Are Pro-Life” on Spreaker.

 

Conscience bill: what to remember & why to act now

I went to the hearing on HB 1787 yesterday, regarding conscience protections for health care providers who decline to participate in abortion, sterilization, or artificial contraception. I have many pages of notes. I made an audio recording of part of the session. I could give you a blow-by-blow description of everything.

But I won’t today. Not here, not now. There are only two takeaways I want to share with you immediately, knowing that the House Judiciary Committee has put off for another day its vote on the bill. Haven’t contacted them yet? Hop to it, please, before sunrise on February 22: HouseJudiciaryCommittee@leg.state.nh.us

  1. There are legislators – a substantial number on the committee, actually – who appear to believe that people who won’t do abortions don’t belong in any medical field at all. 
  2. There are legislators who adamantly assert that there is no difference between induced abortion, miscarriage, and the loss of a child as an indirect effect of the direct action of saving a mother’s life (treating a woman for ectopic pregnancy, for example). 

Number two got backing from the ACLU of New Hampshire and from a Dr. Young, a Concord OB/GYN who came to testify against conscience rights. This is the same doctor who at the hearing on the late-term abortion bill testified that in 35 years of practice, he had never seen or heard of a post-18-week abortion on a healthy fetus.

Fortunately, other doctors were present who defended conscience rights and urged legislators to pass the bill. They were questioned closely about how intent could possibly distinguish one kind of pregnancy termination from another. They answered truthfully, but I could see their words falling on stony ground.

Your doctor needs to hear this. Pharmacists need to know about this bill. So do nurses and PAs. For that matter, so do the people working in abortion facilities who really don’t want to be the ones to reassemble the products of conception following an abortion.

I’ll update this post after the committee makes its recommendation.

UPDATE, 2/27/18: The House Judiciary Committee voted “inexpedient to legislate” on HB 1787, 14-4.

Catching Up: Marching for Life in D.C. as Roe Turns 45

If you’ve had your fill of March for Life coverage, my apologies for this post (and please tell me where you’re getting your news).

The first March for Life in Washington was 44 years ago, one year after the Roe v. Wade abortion decision was imposed by the Supreme Court.  There’s been a march every year since then. I’ve been to six or seven of them.

t-shirt from March for Life 2018
I traveled to the March with a group from my parish, part of a six-bus caravan.

Never have I been part of a larger march than I was last January 19. The weather was surely a factor: full sun, mid-forties. Yet that doesn’t account for most of the marchers, who chartered their buses months ago.

I didn’t count noses. It’s tough to count from the midst of a sea of humanity. I’ve since seen back-and-forth posts from attendees at the March for Life and the following day’s “women’s march,” with squabbles over crowd size that sound like some chief executive tweeting about who’s got a bigger button.

I can assure you of a few things: the March for Life is not a diminishing phenomenon. It continues to attract marchers of all ages. It’s also a rallying point for new pro-life coalitions and groups (like the former abortion workers of And Then There Were None) that couldn’t have been imagined back when Nellie Gray organized the first March for Life in 1974.

March for Life 2018
The view from mid-crowd at March for Life 2018, passing by National Archives in Washington.

I missed the President’s pre-March rally video-link greeting, choosing instead to meet with a group from New Wave Feminists who were hosting a rally of their own before joining the March. If you think all pro-lifers are alike, NWF will burst your bubble. And it’ll be fun.

During the March, I lost track of my marching companions not once but twice. It was tough to stay in touch with them even via text, as the sheer number of people making social media posts from the March affected local cell service. No problem: this was a good day to make new friends and to bump into old ones.

Next year’s March for Life in D.C. will be on Friday, January 18, 2019.

 

Notes on 2017

Looking back on the year from my blogger’s perch, I see lots of people who have inspired me in great and little ways. I hope I’ve passed that inspiration on to you, through that what I’ve written about them along the way.

Sarah and Griffin’s Law: Finally, N.H. Has a Fetal Homicide Law

The front page of the December 29 New Hampshire Union Leader has a most satisfying headline.

Headline: fetal homicide law now on the books in N.H.
N.H. Union Leader headline, 12/29/17: fetal homicide law now on the books.

For close to two decades, state legislators – particularly Kathy Souza of Manchester, who was working on this long before she was elected to the House – had tried to pass fetal homicide legislation, recognizing unborn victims of violence and allowing prosecutors to bring charges accordingly. For five years on this blog, I wrote about attempts to pass such a law and why the law was necessary.

Then came the family of Griffin Kenison. They pushed hard for a law. They were rebuffed. They kept coming back – mother and father and grandparents and extended family – and they pushed again. They were joined by the family of Sarah Crucitti, who pushed right along with Griffin’s family. Last June, both families stood by Governor Chris Sununu as he signed the law named for their children.

He would have had nothing to sign had those families not fought the way they did.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful to every persistent legislator who co-sponsored fetal homicide legislation over the years, and to the House and Senate members who voted the right way. I acknowledge that Governor Sununu followed through on his pledge to sign a fetal homicide bill if one came to his desk.

And with all that, I trust that the governor and the legislators won’t think too unkindly of me when I say that where Sarah and Griffin’s Law is concerned, the families are my heroes.

Honorable Mentions

The board of St. Gianna’s Place, engaged in the tough work of launching a new shelter for pregnant and parenting women. I hope that by this time next year, they’ll have a house. You can help.

Darlene Pawlik, for her work against human trafficking this year (as if her work with Save the 1 weren’t enough). She was instrumental in organizing a much-needed briefing for legislators.

Executive Councilor Dave Wheeler, for consistently upholding the idea that taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing any abortion provider.

Beth Gaby, Jackie McCoy, and Sheila DePuydt for leading peaceful, prayerful 40 Days for Life campaigns in Concord, Greenland, and Manchester.

Cathy Kelley and her year-round prayer partners outside PP’s Manchester office – not only for peaceful persistence, but also for reporting from the scene.

Catholic Medical Center and Sarah Bascle, M.D., for opening the Women’s Wellness and Fertility Center at CMC.

I wish I knew the names of all the staffers and volunteers at the pregnancy care centers statewide. Look up the center nearest you and thank them yourself, and then ask how you can help.

From One Year Ago, My Questions for 2017 – and the Answers

Will the House and Senate see their way to passing abortion statistics and fetal homicide bills, which are being introduced once again? Stats no, fetal homicide yes. A stats bill was held over last spring and will get a House vote January 3 or 4.

Will Governor-elect Sununu follow through on his pledge to support legislation on (among other things) fetal homicide, buffer zone repeal, conscience rights, and a ban on late-term abortion? Or was his statement of support not a pledge? He signed fetal homicide – the only one of these proposed bills that got to his desk.

Will abortion providers finally enforce the buffer zone law they fought to get?  No.

Will  the incoming presidential Administration drive a stake through the heart of the HHS/contraceptive mandate, or will women’s fertility still be considered a disease under whatever might replace the “Affordable” Care Act?  And speaking of the mandate, will the federal government finally leave the Little Sisters of the Poor alone? President Trump exempted the Little Sisters outright from the mandate last spring, and broadened exemptions to it in October. A small good step, but not exactly what I call driving a stake, since the mandate itself is still on the books.

Will the incoming President take pro-life policy seriously, and will the pro-lifers who supported him give him what he deserves if he doesn’t?  I’ll give him this much: he takes the pro-lifers who supported him seriously. He has taken steps to reduce taxpayer funding of abortions (including reducing funding to a U.N. agency complicit in forced-abortion policies in China). I’m glad it’s not Hillary Clinton making Supreme Court appointments, but I’ll withhold my raves about Neal Gorsuch until I see how he actually votes. 

How will coverage of the March for Life compare to coverage of the planned January   “women’s march” in DC that will apparently have no place for pro-life women? Ditto for the state level. I’m tellin’ ya, pro-lifers should have invented pink hats with catchy names years ago. But it sure was fun to see so much news coverage of the uproar arising from the fact that “women’s march” organizers “disinvited” a pro-life group.  As a result, New Wave Feminists got a huge boost in visibility and support, and Abby Johnson and And Then There Were None showed up as well.  As for the state level, well…we learned (again) to jump on media outlets’ inaccurate reports of attendance. The corrections might be on an inside page, but we do what we can.

Best Book

Gosnell, by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer. From my April review: “Familiar as I was with the Gosnell case, and as impressed as I was by McElhinney’s passion, I wondered what could be new in the book. As I read, I quickly realized that the close attention to the individuals involved in the case, starting with the investigators, set Gosnell apart from anything else I’ve read on the subject. The authors’ perspective is unique as well, as McElhinney explains in the preface: ‘I never trusted or liked pro-life activists. Even at college I thought them too earnest and too religious.'”

Prediction for 2018 About Which I Hope I’m Wrong

The Republican majority in Concord is not a pro-life majority; otherwise, buffer zone repeal and abortion stats would have passed last spring. One could argue that where the life issues are concerned, there’s no difference between parties. That’s not true, but I understand the frustration that fosters such a notion. The GOP still at least has a platform acknowledging the right to life.

But here’s what I think could happen next November: a loss of 20 pro-life seats in the N.H. House. One reason, though not the only one: Democrats will ensure that Republicans are tied to presidential tweets.

I shall return to this the day after the November 2018 election, and I’ll cheerfully (and figuratively) eat crow if circumstances so dictate.

Happy 2018! 

I’ll strive to keep providing you with good informative reading. I couldn’t do this without your support. Thanks for following along!