NH House pro-Roe resolution tabled

The New Hampshire House today tabled HR 6, a resolution favoring Roe v. Wade. The tabling motion passed 239-111, despite a sharp appeal from the resolution’s prime sponsor. Rep. Candace Bouchard (D-Concord). Tabling does not kill the resolution but removes it from immediate consideration.

HR 6 states “the New Hampshire House of Representatives hereby recognizes the critical importance of continued access to safe and legal abortion.” Supporting clauses include a claim that “violence against health care providers and restrictions on access to abortion endanger the lives of women and families and have continued to erode access to abortion.”

Six Democrats and two Republicans co-sponsored the resolution: Reps. Constance Bouchard (D-Concord), Tara Sad (D-Walpole), Ronald Theberge (D-Berlin), Laurie Harding (D-Lebanon), Priscilla Lockwood (R-Canterbury), Janet Wall (D-Madbury), Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua), and David Kidder (R-New London).

What constitutes a restriction on access, as far as the sponsors are concerned? New Hampshire has no law undercutting a woman’s “right” to abortion. There is a parental notification statute, and there is a ban on a particular abortion method (partial-birth). Neither statute can block a woman’s access to abortion, with judicial bypass available to minors, and any abortion method available to a provider other than partial delivery and subsequent killing of the newborn child. Both laws were drafted to be consistent with other states’ legislation already found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. All eight of the sponsors of HR 6 opposed the partial-birth ban, and seven of the eight opposed parental notification (Rep. Sad had an excused absence from that vote).

I note as well that the sponsors’ defense of “safe” abortion does not extend to requiring public health officials to collect statistics on how many New Hampshire women experience abortion complications.

This is a House-only resolution. If it were to pass, no assent would be required by the Senate or by pro-abortion Gov. Maggie Hassan.

NH pro-Roe resolution: tie vote in committee

A proposed resolution in praise of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade will go to the floor of the New Hampshire House with no recommendation after a tie vote in committee this morning. Despite amending HR 6 to say that it “recognizes” rather than “commemorates” Roe, supporters could not muster a majority. A motion to pass the amended resolution failed on a vote of 8-8 in the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs committee.

The near-party-line vote saw seven Democrats in favor of passage joined by Republican Rep. Susan Emerson of Rindge. Seven Republicans opposed the resolution and were joined in the vote by Democrat Rep. Susan Ticehurst of Tamworth.

Rep. Richard Meaney (R-Goffstown) was critical of errors he found in the resolution, adding that he found the entire proposal unnecessary. Rep. Thomas Sherman (D-Rye) called HR 6 “horribly tormenting for me,” even though he supports Roe. “I was elected to bridge differences and work together. This kind of resolution just creates differences.” Rep. Bill Nelson (R-Brookfield) added “I think this opens old wounds.” Ticehurst, a first-term representative who identifies herself as pro-choice, said at the hearing that she could not vote for such a “divisive” resolution.

Rep. Laurie Harding (D-Lebanon), committee vice-chair and a co-sponsor of the resolution, affirmed her full support of the Roe decision but acknowledged that she had not anticipated HR 6’s impact on her colleagues. “This was a lesson for me.”

HR 6 is likely to go on the House calendar for next week.