Surprise! Senate Wants to Rush ITL on Born-Alive Bill

The New Hampshire Senate’s born-alive infant protection bill, SB 741-FN, faces an Inexpedient to Legislate recommendation when the Senate meets on Thursday, February 13. The vote will come only two days after a committee’s ITL vote.

This is a rush job that I would have missed if the bill’s sponsor hadn’t alerted me today. She was surprised, too. The Senate does not normally act on bills within two days of committee action. I don’t care how busy they are; that kind of move doesn’t give the public much of a heads-up.

Action Alert

So don’t bother with letters and postcards. The Senate decided to rush this one. Call your Senator. Senators provide only office numbers on the General Court web site, no personal ones, so I hope their administrative support staff – which amounts to one person for every three Senators or so – is ready to take messages.

Simple message, really: overturn the committee recommendation, and vote Ought to Pass on SB 741, please and thank you. Short, clear, polite.

Here’s the Senate roster, and here’s the “who’s my senator?” link.

Related: my earlier post on this year’s House and Senate bills on born-alive infant protection.

Wanna Watch?

The Senate session begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday, February 13th. SB 741-FN is the third item on the agenda. The session is open to the public, with the gallery entrance on the second floor of the State House.

Note that the Senate gallery is much smaller than the House’s gallery. Access is via a narrow stairway.

The session will be live-streamed as well. Click on the Streaming Media link near the upper right of the General Court home page.

Committee Action

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 3-2 along party lines on February 11 to recommend Inexpedient to Legislate on SB 741-FN. The bill calls for medically appropriate and reasonable care for any child born alive, including children who survive attempted abortion.

Voting Inexpedient to Legislate, recommending that the bill be killed: Democrats Thomas Sherman (District 24, Rye), Martha Fuller Clark (District 21, Portsmouth), and Shannon Chandley (District 11, Amherst).

The Republicans on the committee, both of them co-sponsors of SB 741-FN, voted against the ITL recommendation: Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro and James Gray of Rochester.

Tale of the Docket

The illustration above is a screenshot from the docket, or official online record of action, for SB 741-FN. Of interest is the last line within the green box, which documents the astoundingly rushed nature of this scheduled Senate vote.

2/11/2020 is the date of the most recent action, the committee vote with its “inexpedient to legislate” report. (The “S” column simply means “Senate.”) Next to that is the date 2/13/2020 and “SC 6A.” That means the Senate will vote on February 13 as recorded in volume 6A of the Senate Calendar.

Two days: make the best of them.

Looking to 2020: State Legislation

More than a thousand bills have piled up, awaiting hearings in the 2020 session of the New Hampshire General Court – or legislature, to use a less exalted term. Another bill to be voted on is a holdover from this year, which deserves your notice.

Anti-Trafficking Bill To Be Voted On In January

The retained bill is HB 201, which will get a House vote in early January. It seeks to increase the allowable penalty for adults buying sex from minors. It should not have been held over – “retained” is the technical term. Passage last spring would have been the right outcome. Survivors of juvenile sex trafficking supported the bill with compelling testimony. One of them will be a familiar name to longtime readers: Darlene Pawlik, who was an absolute showstopper who called out nonsense when she heard it.

I’ll make a long, infuriating story short, with a note that an organization called Decriminalize Sex Work has hired New Hampshire lobbyists to advance its agenda: HB 201 was retained by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. After consideration this past fall, the committee voted to recommend Ought to Pass on the bill. The full House is likely to vote on that recommendation on January 8 or 9. Good excuse for contacting your state reps, in my humble opinion: YES on the OTP motion for retained bill HB 201.

Thumbs up to chief sponsor Rep. Linda Massimilla (D-Littleton) and her co-sponsors, and to Rep. Nancy Murphy (D-Merrimack) who wrote the committee OTP recommendation for her colleagues.

No Hearings Yet

For all the bills described below, there are no hearings scheduled yet. Watch this blog and its related Facebook page for updates as the House and Senate calendars are published. As it happens, all these bills will start in the House Judiciary Committee, even if their subject matter might seem to fit better elsewhere. Such decisions are made by finer minds than mine.

Enshrining Abortion Into N.H. Constitution

Watch out for CACR 14. This is a proposed constitutional amendment, which in order to pass will have to get a three-fifths vote in the House, three-fifths in the Senate, and then two-thirds from voters in next November’s general election. The governor has no substantive say in the process. Here we go:

“The right to make personal reproductive medical decisions is inviolate and fundamental to the human condition. Neither the State nor any political subdivision shall infringe upon or unduly inconvenience this right.”

It doesn’t say “abortion.” It doesn’t have to, in order to place abortion squarely into the New Hampshire constitution as a protected right – a right “inviolate and fundamental.”

You’ll forgive me if I shout at you about this one. Silence implies consent to the amendment’s corollary: that there is no inherent “right” to life, only a privilege to be conferred by others. Now that’s discrimination.

Sponsors: Reps. Timothy Smith (D-Manchester), Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham), Catherine Sofikitis (D-Nashua), Sherry Frost (D-Dover), Heidi Hamer (D-Manchester), Chuck Grassie (D-Rochester), Arthur Ellison (D-Concord).

Born-Alive Infants Protection

HB 1675 (chief sponsor Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien, R-Derry) seeks to assure medically appropriate care and treatment for any infant born alive following an attempted abortion.

The bill would be a step toward making New Hampshire a bit less Gosnell-friendly. I look forward to reporting on who supports it and who opposes it at the hearing.

Assisted Suicide

After two years of trying to “study” assisted suicide via end-of-life related bills, advocates of assisted suicide have come out with a straightforward bill. HB 1659-FN has nine co-sponsors, led by Rep. Catt Sandler (D-Somersworth). The analysis in the heading of the bill says it “allows a mentally competent person who is 18 years of age or older and who has been diagnosed as having a terminal disease by the patient’s attending physician and a consulting physician to request a prescription for medication which will enable the patient to control the time, place, and manner of such patient’s death.”

You might wonder “what’s with the FN in the bill number?” FN means “fiscal note,” and it’s attached to any bill that is expected to cost money. Such bills go to the Finance Committee for a closer look (and a second full-chamber vote) if they pass the full House or Senate after the first committee is done with it.

While we’re on the subject: the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, whose USA affiliate is headed by former New Hampshire legislator Nancy Elliott, is a good source of information. I’ll cite others as HB 1659 makes its way through the legislative process.

Prenatal Non-Discrimination

The co-sponsors of HB 1678-FN think that Down syndrome, genetic abnormalities, and being an undesired sex shouldn’t call for a death sentence. The bill would prohibit abortions performed solely for one or more of those reasons. Chief sponsor is Rep. Abigail Rooney (R-Milton).

The bill calls for a limited penalty for violations by the abortion provider: liability for damages, and revocation or suspension of medical license if the provider has one. This is not a let’s-jail-abortionists bill. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone tries to say otherwise. Further, no penalty would attach to the mother of the child, and her anonymity in any ensuing civil action would be protected.

Heartbeat Bill

Into this Gosnell-friendly state comes HB 1475-FN, sponsored by Rep. Dave Testerman (R-Franklin) and Rep. Walt Stapleton (R-Claremont). It would prohibit abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat.

Parental Notification

HB 1640-FN (chief sponsor Rep. Werner Horn, R-Franklin) would repeal the judicial-bypass provision of the New Hampshire law requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortion.

If this bill should pass and be signed by Governor Sununu, it would pose a challenge to U.S. Supreme Court rulings on parental-involvement-in-abortion laws dating back to 1976. See the testimony of Americans United for Life on a Florida parental involvement law from March 2019.

So – ready to roll? I’ve already picked out my favorite parking space near the Legislative Office Building. It’s going to get a workout in 2020.

A 2019 Celebration: St. Gianna’s Place

Paid employment and blogging-for-the-love-of-it don’t always mix, as attested by the long stretches between posts this year on Leaven. I’ll start my 2019 review with a resolution for 2020: up my game. I’m as grateful for my readers as I am for clients.

In the last few days of the year, I’ll have an update on some New Hampshire life-issue bills filed for 2020. We’ll take a look at state-level races to be decided in next November’s election. I’ll throw in a few save-the-dates for 40 Days for Life activities and similar events. You’ll see links to some useful websites and apps. All this will be posted by midnight on New Year’s Eve, if all goes well.

For now, let the roundup begin with a cheer for the opening of St. Gianna’s Place.

“A safe harbor for mother and child,” says the organization’s tagline. It’s that, and more: a reminder to me that practical tenacity and seemingly-impractical faith are both essential when human beings are trying to care for each other.

The founders of St. Gianna’s knew they wanted to create a shelter for otherwise-homeless pregnant and parenting women in south-central New Hampshire. They created a board. They raised funds. They had a plan. One thing kept eluding them: an actual facility. The same real estate market that challenges aspiring homeowners in this area challenged the St. Gianna’s team.

2019 saw a breakthrough, with a church in Hudson making an unoccupied building available. To make a long story short – and in the process, to gloss over the efforts of many volunteers – St. Gianna’s Place is now up and running.

I take heart and encouragement from every person who helped make that happen. You can, too.

Read more about St. Gianna’s Place on its website. Maybe you can attend their next banquet; read about the first one here. There will be an ongoing need for donations and volunteers in support of the women and children served at St. Gianna’s Place.

Meeting a human-services need means coming up with more than just good intentions. The team behind St. Gianna’s Place has been up to the challenge.

State House 2020 Preview

New Hampshire legislators have filed legislative service requests for 2020, indicating the kinds of bills we’re likely to see when House and Senate convene in January. To date, 795 LSRs are on record, and more may be on the way.

Among the proposals:

  • Born-alive legislation, to ensure that children who survive attempted abortion are given appropriate medical support.
  • “Prohibiting abortion in certain cases”: LSRs can be very vague, sometimes intentionally so, with clarity and precise language coming only when the bill based on the LSR is finally released. The sponsors on this one look encouraging in any case.
  • A heartbeat bill. Iowa passed a heartbeat bill in 2018 that was struck down as unconstitutional earlier this year. Whether NH’s proposal is identical remains to be seen.

Then there’s LSR 2600, which should be setting off alarms:

“[R]elating to reproductive medical decisions. Providing that the state shall not infringe or unduly inconvenience the right of reproductive medical decisions.”

That’s not a proposed bill. It’s a proposed amendment to the New Hampshire Constitution. Sponsors thus far: Reps. Timothy Smith, Timothy Harrigan, Catherine Sofikitis, Sherry Frost, Chuck Grassie, Heidi Hamer, and Arthur Ellison.

I’ve been concerned that the privacy amendment recently added to the state constitution might be misinterpreted to protect the abortion industry. That’s nothing compared to this proposed amendment, which would embed abortion unambiguously into New Hampshire’s constitution in the guise of “reproductive medical decisions.”

The texts of bills should be available next month, with hearings beginning in January.

Follow-up in Dover

Yesterday’s post shared the news about a classic grassroots pro-life organizing effort in response to a pro-abortion exhibition at a Dover, NH arts venue. It seems that last night’s peaceful witness attracted even more participants than the first one a few days ago.

From a public post on Facebook from Phyllis Woods, who led the effort: “The experience of seeing nearly seventy prolife defenders come out on a Friday night to stand in witness to the truth that giving birth to a child is normal and abortion is anything but normal, was moving and heartwarming for me and I am both humbled and proud to be counted among them.”

Phyllis has been inspiring me for a long time. Looks like she’s not done yet.