Prime swag from the exhibit hall at the Conservative Political Action Conference (@CPAC2019) outside Washington, D.C.: “Defending Life 2019.” This annual report from Americans United for Life gives a state-by-state analysis of life-issue laws. It includes calls to action for each state, listing the kinds of laws that would strengthen public policy relative to the right to life.
If you’re at CPAC, grab it. Its availability here is good news. This is a “conservative” conference rather than a “pro-life” conference, and the two are not synonymous even if there’s overlap. At the conference, it’ll get into the hands of people who might not have given much thought before to life-issue laws – at least not until the recent Born-Alive bill news from Washington. This is a teachable moment.
If you’re not at CPAC, look for “Defending Life” at aul.org.
One erratum, which I have brought to the attention of AUL: New Hampshire’s governor, happily, did not veto fetal homicide legislation. Quite the contrary, in fact. I was there to cheer when he signed it.
It’s been a year now since Chris Sununu professed his pro-choice (sic) bona fides by stating in a gubernatorial campaign ad that he “took on [his] own party” on women’s health, meaning he voted to hand New Hampshire state contracts to abortion providers. A strange ad, that one. (I dissected it in “Observing a Republican ‘Take On’ His Party.“)
A few days later, after private conversations with the candidate, veteran pro-life activist and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne released a letter from Sununu listing pro-life measures Sununu would support. Sununu went on to win the election. with a plurality instead of a majority.
One Down, Four to Go
Now that Governor Sununu has been in office for the better part of a year, how much progress has been made on those pro-life measures in 2017?
Governor Sununu’s pre-election letter did not mention abortion statistics, but there’s a stats bill in the works that may yet come to his desk. The House will vote in January on a committee recommendation of Ought to Pass with Amendment on HB 471.
I wonder if a little quiet support from the corner office could make a difference as the bill moves through House and then Senate.
My New Hampshire neighbor Darlene Pawlik put up a Facebook post recently that reminded me about New Hampshire’s Safe Haven law, passed in 2003. Texas passed the first such law in 1999 to protect abandoned infants, and now every state has a similar measure. Under New Hampshire’s Safe Haven law, newborn children up to 7 days old may be relinquished to staff at fire stations, hospitals, police stations or churches by parents who for whatever reason choose not to keep the baby. The idea is to make sure that an “unwanted” child is cared for instead of abandoned. At the same time, the law was crafted to protect the privacy of the parents distressed and overwhelmed by the birth – a teenager who has kept her pregnancy concealed from her family, for example.
Let the record show that the chief sponsor of New Hampshire’s Safe Haven law was Phyllis Woods of Dover. Of her nine co-sponsors, one is still in office: Rep. Andy Martel of Manchester, now running for re-election.
Safe Haven passed overwhelmingly in the New Hampshire House eleven years ago, 327-45. The usual pro-life/pro-abortion divide was obscured for one blessed day. Supporters ranged from Ray Buckley (then a rep, now chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party) and Chris Pappas (now a Democratic Executive Councilor) to Sharon Carson and Sam Cataldo (now pro-life state Senators). The bill later passed on a voice vote in the Senate after an unfriendly amendment was voted down along party lines.