State budget conferees restore abortion funding restriction

House and Senate conferees working on the New Hampshire state budget for 2022-23 have agreed to include a restriction on abortion funding, according to news reports. The compromise language adds a 24-week limit on abortions.

The funding restriction, originally passed by the House, was later rejected by the Senate Finance Committee before being restored to HB 2 by the full Senate. It would apply to state general funds awarded though contracts with the department of health and human services.

The language does not prevent state funds from going to abortion providers for non-abortion services, such as family planning programs.

The 24-week abortion limit was added to HB 2 by the Senate after HB 625 was tabled.

Here’s the official summary of the proposed budget language as it currently stands: “[This budget} Prohibits the distribution of state funds awarded by the department of health and human services to a reproductive health care facility for provision of abortion services, and prohibits a health care provider from performing an abortion if the gestational age of the fetus is at least 24 weeks.”

The provisions are part of HB 2, the “trailer bill” that goes along with the principal budget bill, HB 1. It is not unusual for the trailer bill include measures that for one reason or another failed to pass as free-standing bills.

Budget negotiations continue this week in conference committee. House and Senate will meet on June 24 to vote on the resulting budget. Once approved by both chambers, the budget will go to Governor Chris Sununu.

Sununu has expressed support for the language restricting abortion funding and late-term abortions.

Senate committee strips abortion funding language from budget bill

As reported by Adam Sexton of WMUR, the New Hampshire Senate Finance Committee has voted to remove proposed state budget language requiring family planning contractors to keep abortion work financially and physically separate from contractors’ other business.

The House language rejected by the Senate committee was reported in this blog last month. Its stated purpose was “[i]n order to ensure that public funds are not used to subsidize abortions directly or indirectly.”

The House language was included in HB 2, the so-called “trailer bill” that is a companion measure to HB 1. Together, the bills will form the state budget for the biennium beginning July 1.

The disputed language is different from provisions included in past state budgets to prevent state funds from being used directly for elective abortions. Such provisions are similar to the Hyde Amendment in the federal Health and Human Services budget.

The Senate Finance Committee will eventually make a recommendation to the full Senate on HB 2, which is likely to contain over a hundred provisions applying to various budget areas.

House and Senate will eventually have to settle their differences before submitting a budget to Governor Chris Sununu by the end of June.

House-passed budget contains language to bar abortion funding

The New Hampshire House has passed a budget with language “to ensure that public funds are not used to subsidize abortions directly or indirectly”. The proposed budget now goes to the Senate for consideration.

While New Hampshire has long protected taxpayers from most abortion funding (there are exceptions), the new House language calls for complete physical and financial separation of abortion from family planning. This would mean that an entity seeking a contract with the state to provide family planning services – say, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England – would not be eligible unless its abortion business were set up as a separate entity.

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House Finance subcommittee moves to protect taxpayers from subsidizing abortion providers

A subcommittee of the N.H. House Finance Committee voted 4-3 along party lines on March 22 to recommend that abortion providers receiving state funds for non-abortion work move their abortion business into a free-standing program. The vote came as part of the subcommittee’s work on the state budget for the upcoming biennium.

Next stop for the committee’s proposal is the full House Finance Committee.

Kevin Landrigan of the New Hampshire Union Leader reported on the subcommittee session chaired by Rep. Jess Edwards (R-Derry). “Edwards said for these providers ‘all money is fungible,’ and the amendment is meant to prevent these providers from mixing grant spending.”

Translation, as near as I can figure: if this provision winds up in the state budget – and that’s a BIG “if” – any health care provider that also provides abortions will have to create a separate legal and financial entity for its abortion business. Otherwise, the provider would not be eligible for state funding.

click to Read the complete post.

Budget compromise on abortion funding: no direct, plenty of indirect

Edited 9/28/19: Governor’s signing is still pending, awaiting the bill’s enrollment process.

As of September 25, New Hampshire has a new budget for the coming biennium. In a compromise overwhelmingly approved by legislators and soon to be signed by Governor Sununu, the budget includes language preventing the direct funding of abortion using state dollars.

Or rather, more-or-less preventing. More on that below. But for now, my hat’s off to the House and Senate minority leadership teams (GOP) who refused to cave in to the majority’s desire to open the door to direct funding.

Direct abortion funding: not this time

No direct funding: that’s a depressingly low bar to clear. I work and pray for the day when there’s no need to jump for joy over something that ought to be fundamental policy. I likewise work and pray for the day when no party thinks direct funding is a good idea.

In the no-direct-funding provision, budget negotiators added a sneaky little clause that bears watching (emphasis added):  “Unless specifically appropriated in the biennial budget, no state funds awarded by the department of health and human services to a reproductive health care facility, as defined in RSA 132:37, I, shall be used to provide abortion services.”

There should be no “unless.”

In any case, the no-direct-funding provision was welcomed by Governor Sununu, who continues to draw a line between funding abortion and funding abortion providers.

indirect abortion funding: more than ever

The political trade-off for getting the no-direct-funding language was to hand additional funds to the state’s largest abortion provider. You can see why I haven’t used the word “victory” to describe the budget compromise.

Every public dollar that goes to an abortion provider, even for non-abortion work, helps keep the abortion side of the business going.

In an earlier post, I outlined the situation with Title X federal family planning funds in the state budget. Several New Hampshire family planning contractors are also abortion providers, principally Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. When the federal government recently enacted the Protect Life Rule barring abortion providers from receiving Title X funds, PPNNE announced that it would leave the federal Title X program rather than give up doing abortions.

In the state budget compromise, there’s a huge increase in the family planning appropriation from the state general fund, compared to last biennium’s budget. That increase exists to offset PPNNE’s “loss” of federal funds under the Protect Life Rule. PPNNE and a few smaller contractors voluntarily surrendered those federal dollars in order to keep their abortion businesses going.

In other words, abortion providers will now get more state dollars precisely because they’re abortion providers. The dollars are appropriated for “family planning,” but the increase over the previous biennium isn’t going to the Title X contractors who are abortion-free. The increase is going to the abortion providers.

And that’s what political compromise looks like this week. “It’s the best we’re going to get,” I was told by a source close to the negotiations. That’s true, for now.