Do Exceptions Help, Politically?

A Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act has passed the U.S. House and is on its way to the U.S. Senate. It would restrict abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a point at which there is evidence that the preborn child feels pain. That’s “restrict,” not “prevent.” The bill carries a rape-and-incest exception.


The ability to feel pain is not a function of the criminal activity of one’s biological father, so the exception undermines the whole science-is-on-our-side defense of Pain-Capable. Darlene Pawlik expands on the problematic nature of the exception in “I’m Pain-Capable, How ’bout You?

I appreciate the good intentions in this attempt to protect at least some children, and I’m not going to work for the defeat of a candidate solely on the basis of supporting Pain-Capable in its current form. I just have to wonder why the exception is in there. From a pragmatic point of view, does it gain any votes over a no-exceptions bill?

I don’t know, but I can recall a situation in New Hampshire last year when one abortion bill had no rape-and-incest exception while two others did. Was there a big difference in the results among those three votes? Not really. From my March 15, 2016 post:

There were three bills [in NH in 2016] to restrict mid- and late-term abortions. One of them, HB 1328, would have instituted a 20-week limit with an exception for abortions following rape or incest. The other bills would have limited abortions at viability (HB 1625) and at the point where the preborn child can feel pain (HB 1636). Was there any tactical advantage to including exceptions in one of the bills?

Not that I could see. Only seven representatives voted FOR the bill with exceptions and AGAINST the other two mid- and late-term bills. On the other hand, twelve representatives did the opposite, opposing the exceptions bill while supporting the HB 1625 and HB 1636.

All three of those bills failed, although HB 1625 – to prohibit abortion after viability, without a rape-and-incest exception – lost by only three votes.

Congressman Steve Scalise, the Republican Majority Whip, has acknowledged that passage of the Pain-Capable Act in Congress took some effort. I expect the same will be true in the Senate.

Whose Senate vote will be granted or withheld on the basis of exceptions language? Is there any tactical advantage to the exceptions? I don’t know, but what I saw in Concord in 2016 makes me wonder.

 

New contact info for N.H.’s federal reps

Update to the Hundred Days assignments: our federal representatives have been sworn in, and here are the ways to contact them.

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

To send an email, use the contact form on her Senate web page: http://www.shaheen.senate.gov/contact/contact-jeanne

Washington, D.C. office: 506 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510, phone 202-224-2841.

Sen. Shaheen has six offices in New Hampshire: Manchester, Nashua, Keene, Dover,  Berlin, and Claremont. Addresses and phone numbers are on her web site.

You can also communicate with her via Facebook and Twitter, @SenatorShaheen

U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan
Sen. Maggie Hassan (nh.gov photo)

Contact Sen. Maggie Hassan using the contact form on her web site.

Washington, D.C. office: B85 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510, phone 202-224-3324.

Manchester office: 1200 Elm Street, Suite 2, Manchester NH 03101

Facebook and Twitter: @SenatorHassan

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (First Congressional District)
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (congress.gov photo)

Email her via the contact page at her Congressional site, https://shea-porter.house.gov/contact.

Washington, D.C. office: 1530 Longworth House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, 202-225-5456.

Dover office: 660 Central Ave., Dover NH 03820. Expect more offices to open in the coming months.

Facebook and Twitter: @RepSheaPorter

Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster (Second Congressional District)
Rep. Annie Kuster (photo from congress.gov)

Email contact form: https://kuster.house.gov/contact/email-me 

Washington, D.C. office: 137 Cannon House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, 202-225-5206.

Nashua office: 70 E. Pearl Street, Nashua NH 03060, 603-595-2006

Concord office: 18 N. Main Street, 4th floor, Concord NH 03301, 603-226-1002

Littleton Office: 33 Main St., Suite 202, Littleton NH 03561, 603-444-7700.

Tweet to her: @RepAnnieKuster


 

The First Amendment and would-be Sen. Hassan

Gov. Maggie Hassan (nh.gov photo)
Gov. Maggie Hassan (nh.gov photo)

We’ve seen New Hampshire’s Governor Maggie Hassan in action for two terms. So what would a Senator Hassan look like, if she should prevail over incumbent U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte on November 8?

Look back at one policy decision ratified by Hassan in 2014: the buffer zone law.

Buffer zones and the First Amendment

New Hampshire’s buffer zone law gives abortion facility managers the right to determine whether and where the First Amendment may be exercised within 25 feet from an abortion facility.

Maggie Hassan signed the law despite the fact that a challenge to a substantially similar law from Massachusetts was pending before the Supreme Court. Two weeks after the New Hampshire law was signed, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the Massachusetts law on First Amendment grounds. Hassan continued to defend New Hampshire’s version. She still supports it, even though no abortion facility in New Hampshire has put a zone into effect, as of October 2016. The facility managers know that litigation would doom the New Hampshire law.

Hassan signed the New Hampshire measure into effect even though the Court’s First-Amendment decision on the Massachusetts law was unanimous.


That’s what Governor Hassan thinks of the First Amendment as it applies to nonviolent pro-life demonstrators. Now she wants to become Senator Hassan, with power to confirm (or refuse to confirm) nominees to federal judgeships, including Supreme Court seats.

Dodging the First Amendment 

I reported in 2014 on the form letter I received from Hassan’s office two months after I and many other people had petitioned her not to sign the bill into law. An “assistant director of citizen services” wrote back.  Hassan wouldn’t even reply over her own signature. No skin off my nose, to be sure, but I caught the dismissal.

My 2014 post includes the full text of the letter from Hassan’s assistant. Not once in the letter did the assistant director of citizen services mention the First Amendment. No mention of the Supreme Court. No mention of the Masasachusetts law or the grounds on which it had been invalidated.

Watch your language

The 2014 letter is echoed in some of the language on Hassan’s Senate campaign web site (which has a high enough search ranking already without my linking to it): all-purpose terms, equally available for misuse whether the topic is nonviolence or a Senate seat.

The following bullet points are taken directly from my 2014 post reacting to the letter from Hassan’s assistant. Listening to 2016’s campaign messages, nothing’s changed.

  • “Critical health services.” In other words, cancer screening and contraception and abortion are all “critical.” Huh? The intentional direct taking of human life has nothing to do with “health.”

  • “Access…privacy…safety.” No mention that laws are already on the books against blocking access, against harassment including invasion of privacy, against violence. That was what doomed Massachusetts’s original buffer zone law – the failure to enforce existing laws first.

  • “Affordable access to basic health care coverage is critical to the economic security of women and families.” Knowing that abortion is part of what Hassan defines as “health care,” she’s saying – excuse me, her assistant is saying – that kids are disposable if they come up short in a woman’s cost-benefit analysis.

  • “…without fearing for their safety…” In the fantasy world occupied by the Governor and supporters of the buffer zone law, people standing in silent witness outside an abortion facility are no different from people entering an abortion facility bent on murdering the employees….In the real world, peaceful witnesses have just as much reason to fear violence as do an abortion facility’s employees.

A Seat in the Balance

I have heard from many people of good will who want me to reconsider my adamant refusal to support either major presidential candidate. The shape of the Supreme Court is the usual argument.

I understand the concern. Note well, though, that presidents can only nominate judges. The Senate confirms, or refuses to confirm. It’s the firewall against presidential whackery from any party’s standardbearer.

That’s why I think New Hampshire’s Senate race is at least as important as the presidential one – more important, actually, for those of us who have no top-of-the-ticket preference.

Candidate Hassan made a ceremony out of signing the buffer zone law, and now she wants a seat in the body that confirms jurists who will rule on First Amendment cases.

This is one race where I have no problem making a choice.

 

Adoption & the Governor

As the saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Case in point: this recent tweet from New Hampshire governor and U.S. Senate candidate Maggie Hassan.

Beautiful.

Each of the children in the photo has a birth mother who whatever her circumstances managed to choose life for her child. We get to see their smiles now. Families get to love them now. And for one day at least, candidate Hassan took a break from promoting the interests of the industry that would have ended the lives of these children in utero upon the mothers’ request.


 

Spread the word: abortion money doesn’t belong in anti-trafficking bill

The U.S. Senate voted this afternoon on the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. New Hampshire’s Senators split, with Ayotte voting yes and Shaheen voting no. While the vote on a procedural motion was 55-43, with four Democratics joining Republicans in the majority, the bill needed 60 votes to advance.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). Photo by Matthew Lomanno.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). Photo by Matthew Lomanno.

Understand this: abortion funding is holding up the bill. The Act contains language similar to the Hyde Amendment to prevent any funds allocated under the Act from being used for abortion. Abortion advocates are refusing to support the bill because they can’t squeeze any money out of it for abortion providers.

The bill is stalled because abortion funding is more important to one group of Senators than helping survivors of human trafficking. This is what abortion extremism looks like. Shout that from the housetops.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH (official Senate photo)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Official Senate photo.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen was all set with a press release after the vote. “Human trafficking is too important an issue to be stalled because of unrelated measures aimed at restricting women’s access to healthcare. I’m disappointed that partisan language was inserted in this bill that could lead to a dramatic and unprecedented restriction on abortion coverage in the future. We ought to remove that controversial language and act on this bill in a bipartisan fashion.”

Guess what, Senator? Your colleagues DID vote today in bipartisan fashion in favor of the bill.

Senator Shaheen considers taxpayer funding of abortion essential. You want your funds kept away from the abortion industry? That’s a no-no, according to New Hampshire’s senior senator; that’s “restricting women’s access to health care.”

Senator Kelly Ayotte had a statement of her own. “I am disappointed that Senate Democrats are now blocking this measure, and I hope partisan disagreements will be resolved so we can pass this bipartisan legislation and help victims of these terrible crimes.”

Very nice. I support her in this. Did you notice something, though? Her statement didn’t mention that abortion funding was the sticking point. NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn issued a statement as well, taking Senator Shaheen to task for her vote. Again, no mention of abortion funding.

Why the dodge? Shaheen’s vote wasn’t merely partisan. It was extremism in action, cast in the conviction that you and I owe the abortion industry money.

Spread the word.