Safe-&-legal: let the questions begin in Concord

Chuck Donovan of the Charlotte Lozier Institute has just published a thoughtful essay on the current state of justice for the unborn and the just-born, and who does and does not stand up for the “least of these.” Speaking of justice, he also wonders how women seeking late-term abortions are treated by abortion providers, in view of the grand jury report that preceded the Gosnell trial in Philadelphia.

Let our discourse about this be civil, but let’s not confuse silence with civility. The next time the Executive Council votes on Title X contracts, among the bidders will be Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Will Councilors be willing to ask a few questions of PPNNE, in view of its acknowledged status as New Hampshire’s leading abortion provider and its stated claim of “care, no matter what”?

  • Does PPNNE have any formal statement about Dr. Kermit Gosnell or his trial?
  • Does PPNNE believe that Dr. Gosnell’s Pennsylvania facility was operating in violation of applicable laws?
  • How does New Hampshire law assure that conditions such as those at Gosnell’s facility cannot occur here in New Hampshire?
  • Why isn’t PPNNE supporting a law to mandate collection of abortion statistics in New Hampshire, in order to monitor women’s health outcomes?
  • What are PP’s specific medical guidelines for the handling of a born-alive child after attempted abortion?

These questions are relevant to New Hampshire women even though Title X is for “family planning,” even though abortion is not part of Title X (and that is arguable, based on abortifacient drugs being dispensed as contraceptives), and even though PPNNE representatives take pride in their facilities. They speak directly to “safe and legal” abortion.

Stay calm, stay on point, remember the women and children whose lives depend on the answers to these questions.  Potential state contractors are in no position to declare that certain questions or topics are off-limits or irrelevant. The contractors, and the Councilors who vet them, owe us some answers.

To coin a phrase, women are watching.

How to Lie with Statistics

Thank you, Marc Barnes, for questioning abortion statistics provided by the Guttmacher Institute. Read his recent post on how Guttmacher manipulated numbers in a Mexican study to link “unsafe” abortions and maternal deaths.

Ironically, some states including New Hampshire refuse to mandate collection of abortion statistics: how many women seek them, whether there are adverse effects, where the abortions are done, and who does them, for starters. All reporting is voluntary here in the Granite State. The Guttmacher Institute’s NH figures are obtained from Planned Parenthood affiliates and are accepted without scrutiny by legislative committees, as I have seen time and again.

The fact is that none of us knows how many women are dying or suffering irreparable harm due to abortion, whether legal or illegal. I believe each of these women deserves respect and truth, and so do the people who love them.  Policymakers and the medical community need accurate data. No one works harder than abortion providers to keep them from getting it.

Fortunately, writers like Marc Barnes and agencies like the Charlotte Lozier Institute are pressing to discover the truth. More power to them.

Basic Book: Voices of Post-Abortive Women

Aborted Women: Silent No More by David C. Reardon. 1987: Crossway Books, ISBN 0891074511.  Reissued 2002: Elliot Institute, ISBN 0964895722

I have the older edition on my shelf. It was the first thing I ever read about post-abortive women, beyond a few brochures from an outfit called Women Exploited by Abortion. With WEBA’s cooperation, Reardon surveyed 252 women in 42 states about their abortion decisions and the aftermath. The survey results would have fit into a short magazine article. What makes the book so enlightening and necessary are the many stories recounted by and about the women who agreed to speak to Reardon.

Reardon surveyed 252 women in 42 states. That’s a fairly small sample, and to a degree it was a self-selected group, since the women were part of WEBA. The stories and the numbers are powerful nonetheless. All the women cited in the book were determined to be “silent no more”. Their stories had, and continue to have, urgency and importance.

One of Reardon’s statistics stands out even today: over two-thirds of the women surveyed felt rushed to make the abortion decision. It’s ironic that New Hampshire’s lawmakers are arguing now over whether a 24-hour waiting period is too great an imposition on a woman’s right to choose abortion.

This book is available on Amazon but might be hard to find in bookstores. Look on your church’s bookshelf. This one made a splash when it was first published, and a lot of faith communities with active pro-life ministries picked up the book.

Week In Review: NH Senate Bats .400

I understand the importance of gratitude as much as the next person. As a lobbyist, I forget it at my peril. So thank you, senators. And now permit me to quibble.

The New Hampshire Senate passed two bills that are years overdue: a ban on partial-birth abortions (HB 1679) and a bill to examine the possibility of collecting abortion statistics (HB 1680). Great news, momentous victories – and you probably have to have been around Concord as long as I have to appreciate just how momentous. Persistence pays off. Three other bills with pro-life implications met worse fates: killed, tabled, interim study. 

When I’m up in the gallery cheering for five bills and two of them pass, it’s a good day, even though one newspaper headline said pro-lifers were “crushed.” Crushed? Not so much. I will, however, admit that my happiness was alloyed with a strong dose of the annoyance only an ex-Republican can understand.

The five Democratic senators were solidly opposed to four of these bills. (The stats bill passed on a voice vote.) The Republicans, as usual with pro-life bills, were all over the place. The one bill that earned unanimous Republican support was the partial-birth ban. When the day’s session was over, the minority leader, Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, made a short speech on the Senate floor, paying tribute to majority leader Sen. Jeb Bradley for the way Bradley had handled the difficult votes (meaning the pro-life bills). D’Allesandro is a gentleman, and I have no doubt he was speaking from the heart.

But wait a minute here. Why was it such a big deal that a Republican majority leader got all of his caucus to support a bill to ban an abortion method that shades into infanticide? What is so controversial about that? Who had to be persuaded? (And why does the Democratic party defend partial-birth abortion?)

We can actually make fair guesses of who had to be persuaded by looking at bills that fell short. HB 228, to keep state money away from abortion providers, was tabled 17-6 (Sen. DeBlois was absent); HB 1660, to stop abortions after 20 weeks, went sent to interim study 15-8; HB 1659, Women’s Right to Know/informed consent/24-hour wait before abortion was ITL’d (killed) 12-11.


Exactly FIVE senators supported all these bills: Jim Forsythe, Fenton Groen,  Ray White,  Gary Lambert, and Jack Barnes, It pains me to know that Forsythe & White have decided not to run for re-election.

On the other hand, six GOP senators voted against everything except the partial-birth ban: John Gallus, Jeb Bradley (yes, the majority leader), Bob Odell, Dave Boutin, Jim Rausch, and Nancy Stiles. Call them the hard-line six. Gallus has announced his retirement. The others are likely to seek reelection.

That leaves seven GOP senators whose votes were scattered.

  • There’s no doubt that HB 228 was tabled in response to the threat of a loss of Medicaid funds to the state if the bill should pass. I hate seeing that kind of timidity in any elected official, and I’m pleased that Sens. Forsythe, Groen, Andy Sanborn, White, Gary Lambert, & Jack Barnes voted against being bullied.
  • The rejection of the informed consent bill should raise the ire of every pro-life voter who has ever written a check to the GOP. Andy Sanborn told me that he had a hard time with this one, but he concluded that the 24-hour wait was too great an intrusion by government into a woman’s rights. He joined the “hard-line six” and the Democrats to make the twelfth and deciding vote. The 11 senators who got this one right: Jeanie Forrester, Forsythe, Groen, White, Peter Bragdon, Jim Luther, Lambert, Sharon Carson, Barnes, Chuck Morse, Russell Prescott.
  • A senator told me privately a week before the session that the post-20-week ban would probably not pass. “It’s that or partial-birth. We can’t get both.” Eight GOP senators did the right thing by opposing the motion to send the bill to interim study: Forsythe, Groen, White, Bragdon, Luther, Lambert, Barnes, Morse.  

This confirms what I already knew about writing checks to the GOP. Don’t do it, since the money will go to the likes of the hard-line six. Individual candidates would be happy to hear from pro-life donors.

Postscript: Shortly after the Senate rejected HB 1659, the House attached it as an amendment to one of the bills it is considering. I won’t venture a guess as to HB 1659’s final outcome. There’s a bit of a struggle going on between House & Senate that goes way beyond the pro-life bills. I only hope that the partial-birth bill, which must go to the House for agreement with an amendment, won’t fall victim to the tension.