I posted an incorrect date for the upcoming hearing on SB 486-FN, a bill to require insurance plans which cover maternity benefits to provide coverage for abortion services. The hearing is Tuesday, FEBRUARY 18, not March as I originally reported. I regret my error. I have corrected my earlier post on the bill, which includes location and time for the hearing.
As luck would have it, my mistake was in a high-traffic post. If you shared it (and thank you for reading, by the way), please share this correction as well.
(An earlier version of this post carried a headline saying “March 18.” The correct date is February 18.) The latest abortion bill to come to the New Hampshire legislature in 2020 is the so-called “Women’s Reproductive Health Parity Act of 2020,” SB 486-FN. The bill will have a hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday, February 18, at 2:15 p.m. in room 100 of the State House.
From the bill’s official analysis on its cover page: “This bill requires insurance plans which cover maternity benefits to provide coverage for emergency or elective abortion services.”
Yes, parity between maternity and abortion, as though abortion were health care. Are you an employer whose benefits to employees include health insurance? You’ll help pay for abortions if this passes. It’ll be interesting to see which organizations and companies sign up in favor of this bill at the hearing.
Private and public plans are both included. Medicaid funds originating with the federal government are not supposed to go for abortion, so the bill includes this: “If the commissioner determines that enforcement of any policy described under paragraph I may adversely affect the allocation of federal funds to New Hampshire, the commissioner may grant an exemption to the requirements of this section only to the minimum extent necessary to ensure the continued receipt of federal funds.”
Don’t let that comfort you. You’ll recall what happened the last time the federal government made a rule that threatened to affect abortion providers, don’t you? Advocates for abortion providers simply appropriated state funds to cover what the feds wouldn’t.
The members of the Commerce committee are Sens. Kevin Cavanaugh, Jon Morgan, Donna Soucy, Harold French, and Chuck Morse.
Paid employment and blogging-for-the-love-of-it don’t always mix, as attested by the long stretches between posts this year on Leaven. I’ll start my 2019 review with a resolution for 2020: up my game. I’m as grateful for my readers as I am for clients.
In the last few days of the year, I’ll have an update on some New Hampshire life-issue bills filed for 2020. We’ll take a look at state-level races to be decided in next November’s election. I’ll throw in a few save-the-dates for 40 Days for Life activities and similar events. You’ll see links to some useful websites and apps. All this will be posted by midnight on New Year’s Eve, if all goes well.
“A safe harbor for mother and child,” says the organization’s tagline. It’s that, and more: a reminder to me that practical tenacity and seemingly-impractical faith are both essential when human beings are trying to care for each other.
The founders of St. Gianna’s knew they wanted to create a shelter for otherwise-homeless pregnant and parenting women in south-central New Hampshire. They created a board. They raised funds. They had a plan. One thing kept eluding them: an actual facility. The same real estate market that challenges aspiring homeowners in this area challenged the St. Gianna’s team.
2019 saw a breakthrough, with a church in Hudson making an unoccupied building available. To make a long story short – and in the process, to gloss over the efforts of many volunteers – St. Gianna’s Place is now up and running.
I take heart and encouragement from every person who helped make that happen. You can, too.
Read more about St. Gianna’s Place on its website. Maybe you can attend their next banquet; read about the first one here. There will be an ongoing need for donations and volunteers in support of the women and children served at St. Gianna’s Place.
Meeting a human-services need means coming up with more than just good intentions. The team behind St. Gianna’s Place has been up to the challenge.
New Hampshire House and Senate conferees trying to agree on a state budget have agreed on one thing: everyone who pays taxes in New Hampshire will be funding unrestricted abortion if this budget passes.
The conference committee has OK’d the removal of budget language which in past budgets has limited the use of state funds for abortion.
House and Senate will vote on a state budget proposal June 27. The Governor will then decide whether to sign or veto the budget. A veto would likely lead to a legislative continuing resolution, basically a state-spending holding pattern, until agreement is reached on a new budget.
Governor Sununu has expressed in every way available to him that he will veto the budget as it currently stands, due to new taxes and excessive spending. He has not mentioned abortion funding as a reason for a possible veto.
Abortion funding is not a bargaining chip. It’s a dealbreaker. Perhaps no one has told him so yet. His office number is (603) 271-2121. The budget isn’t on his desk yet, but it’s coming.
House and Senate members need to get the same message before June 27.
Hyde amendment language
The language at risk of repeal in New Hampshire is based on the federal Hyde Amendment, which has been added to every federal Department of Health and Human Services budget since 1976. This funding limitation has prevented the use of federal DHHS funds for abortion, with exceptions for pregnancies from rape and incest.
Essentially, that has been the New Hampshire policy. Children conceived in violence can be aborted at public expense, but New Hampshire taxpayers have not yet been ordered to pay for abortions in other circumstances.
Abortion advocates have worked diligently for years at state and federal levels to undermine Hyde Amendment language, saying that it restricts health care access for poor women.
Anyone opposing restrictions on public funding for abortion is therefore adopting the fiction that abortion is health care. That goes for anyone who votes for a budget containing abortion funding, even if it’s a “compromise” budget.
sununu’s past funding decisions
As Executive Councilor, Chris Sununu voted in 2011 and 2016 to give family planning contracts to abortion providers including Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the Equality Center in Concord, and the Lovering Center in Greenland. Calling himself pro-choice, he drew a distinction: no to compelling taxpayers to fund abortion directly; yes to funding abortion providers for non-abortion work.
In August 2015, Sununu voted against a state contract with PPNNE, expressing concerns over revelations of some PP affiliates’ commerce in body parts from aborted fetuses. Ten months later, in an unprecented do-over on the same contracts, he flipped, saying that PP was no longer under investigation.
Elections have consequences?
There is no elected New Hampshire Democrat on the state level who supports restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortion.
Then again, there is no elected New Hampshire Republican on the state level who has announced that she or he will vote against the proposed budget for the reason that public funding for abortion is inconsistent with respect for human life, authentic health care, and conscience rights.
Hyde saves lives
Looking at the federal Hyde Amendment, Secular Pro-Life celebrated the amendment’s 40th anniversary in 2012. Its #HelloHyde campaign highlighted the people who were born, not aborted, when their mothers were covered by Medicaid.
The Hyde Amendment’s life-saving impact is hard to overstate. Both supporters and opponents agree that the Hyde Amendment has prevented over a million abortions. The disagreement, sad to say, is over whether that’s a good thing.
In April of this year, Michael J. New, Ph.D. of the Charlotte Lozier Institute wrote about Maine’s move to fund abortion with state dollars. He observed something that holds true anywhere public money is used for abortion.
There is a considerable amount of debate among scholars about various aspects of abortion policy. However, when it comes to the issue of taxpayer subsidies, there is a very broad consensus among both pro-life and pro-choice researchers that funding abortion through Medicaid significantly increases abortion rates. In 2009, the Guttmacher Institute–which was Planned Parenthood’s research arm until 2007–published a literature review on the research about public funding of abortion. They found that 19 of 22 studies found taxpayer funding of abortion increases the incidence of abortion.
In September, legislators and the Governor agreed to a compromise budget that includes Hyde Amendment-style limitations on the use of state funds for abortion.
Unfortunately, the compromise does not protect taxpayers from funding abortion providers. Cornerstone Action, a New Hampshire advocacy group for which I’m a consultant, spelled out the details clearly. Their conclusion is apt: “Yes, the budget’s blocking of direct funding of abortion was a victory for New Hampshire, but there’s still much to be done.”
The naysayers are still saying Nay. Given an opportunity to include abortion statistics in a bill regarding collection of health care data, the New Hampshire House ran in the other direction this week. The underlying bill, SB 111, came up for a hearing last month, when an employee of the executive department requesting the bill visibly blanched when a committee member proposed an amendment: adding abortion statistics to the mix.
The executive department requesting the bill was the Department of Health and Human Services. I can only imagine the Commissioner’s reaction to the SB 111 public hearing.
Have no fear, Mr. Commissioner. SB 111 was passed by the House this week without any pesky amendments.
Left unaddressed is the question of why so many representatives who think abortion is health care don’t want to include it in a health care data collection program. But I digress.
There was a roll call on the abortion-statistics amendment. The amendment failed, 135-211. Here’s the link to the roll call, with a “Nay” vote being a vote against the collection of abortion statistics. The heading on that roll call page says “SB 111 Roll Call,” but it’s a vote on the amendment, not the underlying bill.
The underlying bill passed on a voice vote, free of amendments.
I respect and thank the representatives who co-sponsored the amendment: Reps. Walt Stapleton (Sullivan County district 5), William Marsh (Carroll 8), Mark Pearson (Rockingham 34), Charles McMahon (Rockingham 7), Joseph Guthrie (Rockingham 13), Dennis Acton (Rockingham 10), Edward DeClercq (Rockingham 8), and John Fothergill (Coos 1). In addition, Rep. Bill Nelson (Carroll 5) gave an eloquent speech on the floor of the House to introduce the amendment.