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.

 

 

NH Pro-Roe Resolution Is Full of Contradictions

Eight New Hampshire state representatives will come before the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs committee next Thursday to make their case for HR 6, a resolution marking the 40th anniversary of Roe. v. Wade.  Are sponsors trying to commemorate the real Roe v. Wade or an imaginary one?

My advice to the courageous state representatives who will fight against this one: expose the contradictions. Your colleagues who are sponsoring this resolution have some explaining to do.

There’s what Roe says, and there’s what its partisans want it to say. Roe and the Supreme Court decisions based on it allow for informed consent laws, parental involvement for minors seeking abortion, regulation of late-term abortion, and a ban on partial-birth abortion. The sponsors of HR 6 have at one time or another come down against these measures, while claiming to support Roe.

Ironically, at nearly the same time as the hearing on HR 6, there will be a hearing down the hall on a bill for informed consent for women seeking abortion. Courts have ruled over and over again that carefully drafted informed consent statutes are constitutional. Yet the same reps who are sponsoring HR 6 will be scurrying down to the Judiciary committee a few minutes later to complain that informed consent is a thinly-veiled attempt to repeal Roe.

The resolution has three references to “safe and legal” abortion. New Hampshire requires no documentation that abortion is safe. The division of public health collects no reports of complications. I’ve heard a doctor tearfully testify in Concord to the horror of treating women years ago who were bleeding to death due to botched illegal abortions. He made no mention of botched legal ones. No one can say with certainty that those aren’t happening. As long as public health authorities decline to require meaningful data from abortion providers, lawmakers can pretend that women are safe. I don’t trust my health to that kind of wishful thinking.

Roe permits statistical collection, by the way. You won’t hear that from the sponsors of HR 6.

One of the resolution’s introductory statements is  “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.” Wow. Equating violence against abortion workers with legal regulation of abortion, right in the same sentence. Will a majority of the NH House go along with that?

And then there’s this statement from the resolution: “The 2012 elections sent a powerful and unmistakable message to federal and state elected officials all around the country that women do not want politicians to interfere in their personal medical decisions.” That’s revisionist history at best. To be charitable, though, I’ll take that provision of the resolution at face value. Does this mean that the sponsors are equally indignant about a politician-imposed health care plan, the “Affordable Care Act,” that forces Americans to subsidize medications and medical procedures to which they have religious objections?

Error knows no party, and this is a bipartisan resolution. With two Republicans and at least one Catholic among the sponsors, I have no doubt that Thursday’s hearing will feature claims that HR 6 reflects mainstream “moderate” thinking. Remember that such phony moderation has kept abortion providers in New Hampshire free from public-health scrutiny.

Remember as well, even though this will hardly prove persuasive to the sponsors, that such “moderation” rests on pitting pregnant women against their children. That is no way to develop constructive public policy.

This resolution is a celebration, not mere commemoration. One last piece of advice to representatives: make sure there’s a roll call.

 

March for Life 2013 Belonged to the Young

Nothing underscores the tenacity of the pro-life movement like the overwhelming number of college students from all over the country who converged on Washington, DC today for the 39th March for Life.  In the best way, I felt my age as I rejoiced in the fact that opposition to Roe is not a one-generation phenomenon. Moreover, as I listened to these young people today, it’s clear that their commitment to respect for life is not limited to the preborn. Roe v. Wade at 40 looked creaky today.

Thousands upon thousands of us, of all ages, marched together from the Mall past the Capitol to the Supreme Court. It took well over two hours. Under the watchful eyes of Capitol police, a few counter-protesters demonstrated on the sidewalk in front of the Court. Perhaps the light snow kept their numbers down.

We rallied on the Mall near the Washington Monument for an hour and a quarter before the March began. The biggest cheers at the rally went to former Sen. Rick Santorum who addressed the crowd with his wife Karen and several of their children alongside. Sen. Rand Paul had a well-received turn at the mic as well.

I lost count of the college groups, identified by the banners they carried. My photos show only a few. I didn’t get pictures of the groups from Yale, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Dartmouth, Northeastern, University of Michigan … I could list about twenty more. That doesn’t count the groups without banners.

Whenever the March gets news coverage, the participation by Catholic groups is impossible to miss. Less heralded are other religious communities along with groups like students from secular colleges and health care professionals. With my photos, I’ve tried to show some of the marchers who ordinarily fly under the radar. Respect for life is more widespread than you might think. So is opposition to Roe.

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This was one of the subtler references to the President on the signs at the March.
This was one of the subtler references to the President on the signs at the March.

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Florida State
Florida State

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keep calm preMFL2013

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaking at the pre-March rally
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaking at the pre-March rally
Ruben Verastegui of Students for Life got a huge ovation.
Ruben Verastegui of Students for Life got a huge ovation.

 

In NH, Roe’s New Tagline: “Civility, Compassion, Love”

Less than a mile from New Hampshire’s State House in Concord is the Feminist Health Center on Main Street, an abortion facility from way back. It was founded 39 years ago, just a year after Roe v. Wade. The homey little building is easy to miss on a normal day, with only a modest sign to distinguish it from nearby residences.

Last Saturday wasn’t a normal day. Hundreds of pro-life activists, including myself, marched peacefully from the State House to St. John’s church for New Hampshire’s annual March for Life, passing the FHC and its chanting supporters along the way. The FHC’s tiny front lawn was scattered with little signs bearing assorted messages. In the midst of them was a much larger sign, professionally made and carefully installed, with three words: “Civility. Compassion. Love.”

Put aside for the moment the fact that the dozen or so people chanting at us were carrying things like a handmade drawing of a fried egg (or was it poached?) with the legend “This is not a chicken.”  The clumsy slogan and kiddie art on poster board at least looked like an authentic un-staged production. But that big sign? That one came from the pros.

“Civility. Compassion. Love.” Warm words for such a cold setting. Tried-and-tested, slick, polished focus-group words. Striking and thought-provoking words. There was no sign for “Choice” on the lawn.  “Choice” has apparently worn out its welcome, as one poll after another has driven home the point that choice means something very different to the average American than it does to the average abortion-facility worker. Roe needs new slogans.

Of course it needs them, since the plain language of the decision is insufficient to support the industry that has grown up around it.

Under Roe, according to the Supreme Court, parental notification for minors’ abortions is allowed, as long as there’s a judicial bypass. No parent can stop an abortion under these laws. Decisions based on Roe have affirmed that there may be limits on government funding of abortion. Courts have upheld laws against partial-birth abortion, since nothing in Roe or the decisions flowing from it require that we tolerate a procedure to pull a fetus partway out of its mother before the abortionist gets to the main event. Roe allows for the collection of abortion statistics and other oversight to ensure that abortion providers aren’t harming women. Roe allows informed-consent measures such as notifying the pregnant women of the developmental stage of the fetus.

I have heard a representative of FHC testify against each and every one of these measures in New Hampshire, saying they limit access to abortion. She celebrates Roe nonetheless, trusting that a future Supreme Court will roll back all oversight.

In my state, there’s no requirement that abortions be done by a physician or a nurse practitioner. No licensing or training requirements exist. There is no informed consent requirement. There is no need to report to the state how many abortions are done, never mind if a woman is injured or killed as a result. No one in New Hampshire who touts “safe” abortion can point to objective data confirming the alleged “safety” for the woman undergoing the procedure, whether the abortion is surgical or chemical. And still FHC’s supporters are concerned that New Hampshire now does too much to suppress Roe. 

That’s not compassion. It sure isn’t love. I would even go so far as to say it isn’t civil. It’s outrageous.

And the aborted children? It’s unclear if last weekend’s fried-egg poster outside FHC is reflective of the pre-abortion counseling offered to FHC clients. I see no compassion for the children who are denied their very birth, and I see no civility in any policy that pits women against their children.

The new tagline on display at FHC means that three more words might go the way of “choice,” being misused and distorted. It’s left to pro-life activists to make sure no one can forget what civility, compassion, and love really mean.

 

 

 

 

 

Hundreds March for Life in Concord

Not even forty years of Roe v. Wade can discourage or silence us.

Pro-life New Hampshire was out in force today in Concord, with people of all ages coming together to celebrate life and renew their commitment to moving past Roe. My thanks go to the New Hampshire Right to Life Committee for organizing and sponsoring the day’s events. By my count, I was one of 350 people filling the sidewalk on Main Street between the State House and St. John’s church. Many of my longtime friends and colleagues were there. They won’t mind when I say that as much as I love seeing them, I was overjoyed by all the new faces at the march. The pro-life movement is growing all the time. So many young people!  How can I not be full of hope?

Usually, the march goes south on Main Street, passing in front of the Feminist Health Center. This year, we were diverted around the block, for reasons which escape me. A couple of dozen abortion advocates stood near the FHC anyway with their signs and their chants. They had to chant for quite awhile. It took a half hour for the line of pro-lifers to pass a given point, since as always we obeyed the terms of the city permit: stay out of the street, and don’t block the sidewalk. You want 350 people walking two abreast? Works for me. Our message stays out there that much longer.

Who came? Young parents pushing kids in strollers. People in wheelchairs. State reps. Clergy and nuns (and why not, since the Reproductive Rights Caucus leader is so proud to be Catholic?). Church groups. High school & college students.  This is just a hint of what I know I’ll see in Washington in a few days. Enormously encouraging, all of it.