SB 490 was gateway to assisted suicide, and the Senate just slammed it shut for now

(Updated to add link to recording of Senate debate and vote.)

On a 12-10 vote, the New Hampshire Senate has killed a bill that would have paved the way for assisted suicide. I did not see that result coming. Thank-yous are in order, including one I didn’t think I’d ever be writing.

Voting “inexpedient to legislate,” sending the bill into the trash heap: Senators Bob Giuda, James Gray, Harold French, Ruth Ward, Gary Daniels, Kevin Avard, John Reagan, Donna Soucy, Regina Birdsell, Chuck Morse, William Gannon, and Dan Innis. If any one of them had voted differently, today’s outcome would have been different.

Yes, that Donna Soucy, godmother of the unenforced buffer zone law. She was the lone Democrat to do the right thing on SB 490. She deserves thanks and respect for today’s vote.

And then there are the senators who wanted to keep the bill out of the trash heap: Jeff Woodburn, Jeb Bradley, David Watters, Martha Hennessey, Andy Sanborn, Jay Kahn, Bette Lasky, Dan Feltes, Kevin Cavanaugh, and Martha Fuller Clark. Bradley and Sanborn were the two Republicans favoring the bill, for those of you tracking such things.

Senators Sharon Carson and Lou D’Allesandro were absent.

Contact information for all senators is here.

The bill was supposedly about studying end of life choices. The sponsor tipped her hand when she introduced the bill in committee and went on to defend assisted suicide, while fervently denying that what she was advocating was suicide. Medical provision of lethal doses of drugs, yes, but not assisted suicide.  She tried to sell that position today, but 12 senators weren’t buying it.

I listened to the debate this morning as a theme gradually emerged: right to life vs. personal autonomy. Where I have I heard that one before? And then there was it’s-just-a-study. Riiiight.

The 12-10 ITL result was a good day’s work. It’s also a clear warning. Assisted-suicide advocates are going to come back in one guise or another, even though this year’s bill is dead. The lines of support and opposition for assisted suicide are going to look different from the ones regarding abortion.  Neutrality will only serve to support the assisted suicide advocates, who want the lethal prescription to be seen as medical treatment.

Maybe some legislators can be persuaded to change their position. Maybe some are adamant. You might want to look into that before the next election.

Celebrate the day’s work. Thank the people who voted ITL. Take a breath. Then be ready for the next round, whenever it comes.

Recording of the debate and vote, from the NH General Court web site:

Go to Feb. 22 recording, click on Agenda tab, and scroll down to SB 490 at time stamp 11:09:27.


Link of Note: Jennifer Christie

New Hampshire readers may recall Jennifer Christie, keynote speaker at the state March for Life last month. She survived a savage sexual assault, and she and her husband are raising & loving her child who was conceived from that assault. Great love, great courage. I include Jennifer as one of the Voices to Trust I’ve featured on this blog; you can search by that category name to find others.

(Why “Voices to Trust”? Because I’ve heard “Trust Women!” too often from abortion advocates. Try trusting these women.)

I’ve just discovered a link about Jennifer on a blog called Stories of Women. Along with her story as related at Save the 1, I find it inspiring and challenging at the same time. I hope you’ll take time to read and share those two posts.

N.H. Informed Consent Bill Hearing Scheduled for Jan. 17

HB 1707 will have a hearing before the New Hampshire House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs committee on January 17 at 11:00 a.m. in room 205 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord. This Abortion Information Act requires a physician who performs an abortion, or the referring physician, to provide the pregnant woman with certain information at least 24 hours prior to the abortion, and to obtain her consent that she has received such information.

Among the information to which a woman would be entitled 24 hours in advance is to the name of the person performing the abortion or prescribing the drug for a chemical abortion. Not a face-to-face meeting, but a name.

A woman would be entitled to written information 24 hours in advance, which she need not read; all she’d sign for is confirmation that she received the written material. No reflection period would be imposed in case of medical emergency. Some of the information to which women would be entitled under HB 1707:

Medically-accurate information including a description of the proposed abortion method; known risks associated with the procedure or medication; known risks of carrying the pregnancy to term; and abortion alternatives.

Information on medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care.

Notification that the father of the child is liable to assist with child support; this information may be omitted if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

A reminder that she is free to withdraw consent to the abortion at any time.


Furthermore, no abortion provider could take payment until the end of the 24-hour reflection period.

The bill refers to “physicians” as the ones performing abortions, which will annoy the nurse practitioners for whom abortion is within scope of practice. So let someone on the committee propose an amendment to expand the provider list, if that’s a concern. Under current law, or lack thereof, there is no restriction on who may perform abortions; no medical training whatsoever is required. Maybe that’s OK with the bill’s opponents.

Sponsors: Reps. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), Victoria Sullivan (R-Manchester), Kevin Verville (R-Deerfield), Kathleen Souza (R-Manchester)

To express your view: email the Committee ( or attend the hearing (room 205 of the LOB, a block behind the State House). If you attend, options are to speak about the bill (fill out a pink card near the entrance to the hearing room), submit written testimony (either email it, or bring 20 hard copies to distribute to committee members), or simply sign in on the sheet that should be on the end of the committee table nearest the entrance to the hearing room.

After the initial hearing, the committee chairman might name a subcommittee to examine the bill further, or the committee could vote on the bill within a few weeks. I’ll keep you posted.