A Note on Death Penalty Repeal in New Hampshire

Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire has vetoed repeal of the state’s death penalty law. As I write, the House will vote on an override in just a few hours. Whether enough votes are there is anyone’s guess. It’s going to be close. The Governor is fighting hard to have his veto sustained.

He considers capital punishment to be a way of supporting law enforcement. As the granddaughter of a cop and the niece of two others, I don’t, but that’s not what this post is about.

It’s odd that in a year when the Governor has promised that he’ll be vetoing all kinds of bills, he’s putting such a high value on vetoing this one. It’s his first veto, and he’s facing a Democratic House and Senate. I have heard from Republican legislators about the pressure being brought to bear by party brass to back up the Governor’s determination to keep the death penalty on the books.

I got a faint whiff of the pressure myself this morning at an informal gathering of political acquaintances. I’m an undeclared voter (that’s Granitespeak for “independent”), but I was admonished by someone who should know better that I had to back the Governor on this one, and tell my reps to do likewise.

A conscience vote was fine when the bill first came through House and Senate, I was told, but that was then and this is now. Now, it’s not a conscience vote. It’s a matter of supporting the Governor. The Dems are doing this on purpose, timing this, trying to make him look bad.

The Governor, by the way, touted a 64% approval rating in April, making him the third-most-popular governor in the nation. He doesn’t need my pity.

I’ve been involved in politics all my adult life. I understand horse trading, whipping votes, and how arms need to be twisted now and then. But never, least of all now, have I had any patience for considering a life-issue bill to be a matter of conscience in March and a matter of saving face two months later.

This is the kind of thing that makes “undeclared” the largest bloc of voters in New Hampshire.

Opposition to the death penalty is something of a stumbling block to a lot of people who are pro-life in other respects. Some of those people are Republican legislators who voted against the repeal bill earlier this session and will vote to sustain the veto. They’re not giving the party whips any heartburn. They will be consistent.

The Republicans who voted in favor of death penalty repeal are the ones getting the lectures now. They’re the ones I’m thinking about as the vote nears. I hope they’ll be consistent, too.

(originally posted on Leaven for the Loaf)

Six Years After Gosnell Conviction, N.H. Laws Unchanged

May 13, 2013, Philadelphia: Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murder, manslaughter, and a couple of hundred lesser offenses. He’s in prison for life. If he were released, he could set up shop in New Hampshire and commit with impunity some of the same actions for which he’s now imprisoned.

Gosnell snipped the necks of children who survived his attempts to abort them, one of whom he joked was big enough “to walk me to the bus stop.” Karnamaya Mongar, a woman who came to him for what she thought would be a safe and legal abortion, was sedated to death by the staff Gosnell was supposed to oversee, using protocols he had established to compensate for the staff’s lack of formal medical training.

The carnage was uncovered only accidentally, triggered by a 2010 drug raid at Gosnell’s “clinic,” which was a pill mill on top of its other charms. (Convictions on twelve drug offenses netted him another 30 years in prison.)

He got away with abusing women and children for a long time, because the one-time governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – a Republican named Tom Ridge, later entrusted with the Department of Homeland Security – ordered that abortion regulations not be enforced. They might have interfered with abortion access, and that was something Ridge wouldn’t countenance. Ridge’s policy prevailed for an appalling length of time.

Karnamaya Mongar isn’t around to offer her thoughts on Ridge’s defense of her rights.

New Hampshire differs from Pennsylvania in that we don’t have unenforced abortion regulations as far as we know; instead we have next-to-no regulations.

Infanticide: Since the Gosnell trial, New Hampshire legislators have considered three bills that would have required that children surviving attempted abortion be provided with the same level of care that would be given to a child born at the same stage of fetal development without any abortion attempt. Two of those bills were killed, and the third was tabled and never revived. I reported on each one: HB 1627, 2016; HB 578, 2017; HB 1680, 2018.

I attended the hearings and executive sessions on those bills. Opponents complained that such measures would tell doctors how to practice medicine and would cause undue distress to women seeking abortion due to fetal anomalies. Rep. Paul Berch’s remark on HB 1627 was instructive: “This bill seeks to address a problem that appears not to exist in New Hampshire.”

Well, since there is no evidence that New Hampshire public health authorities publish data on the incidence of live births following induced abortion, it’s easy to say a problem “appears not to exist.”

In 2013, Pennsylvania jurors recoiled at Gosnell’s horrific execution of the children who survived his attempt to abort them. Six years later, in our New Hampshire, I doubt there’s a prosecutor who would consider Gosnell’s spine-snipping worth prosecuting. Here, a woman seeking abortion is entitled not only to a terminated pregnancy but a dead child. New Hampshire legislators have passed up several chances to establish a different policy.

Mid- and late-term abortions: Among the crimes of which Gosnell was convicted were more than 200 violations of the Pennsylvania law restricting abortions to a maximum of 24 weeks’ gestation. No such restriction in New Hampshire, then or now.

Type of facility: The Gosnell grand jury sharply criticized the refusal of Pennsylvania authorities to subject Gosnell’s clinic to the same inspection and licensing requirements as ambulatory surgical facilities, as Pennsylvania law required. No such law in New Hampshire, then or now.

Personnel performing abortions: Gosnell employed people who were untrained and unlicensed to “care” for the women who came to him for abortion. In New Hampshire, there are no restrictions whatsoever on who may perform abortions. No medical training is required, and no particular kind of facility is required.

I’ve heard doctors who should know better argue that abortion in New Hampshire is self-policing, and that any incompetent abortion provider would be dealt with by the appropriate certifying board. Assuming that’s true – and I think it’s a generous assumption – what if the abortion provider isn’t subject to a certifying board? Who’s watching out for women then?

So the next Gosnells could come to New Hampshire and do late-term abortions, dispose of the “products of conception” (born-alive or not) as they saw fit, and put women at risk by employing unlicensed and untrained personnel (and indeed forgo a medical license themselves) – all without breaking any current state law.

Watch out for the drug laws, though. They are what finally tripped up Gosnell in Pennsylvania.

That’s what I mean by New Hampshire being Gosnell-friendly. It gives me no pleasure to say that.

The day of Gosnell’s conviction, Planned Parenthood sent out a fundraising email calling abortion regulations “extreme” and “outrageous.” Again, Karnamaya Mongar couldn’t be reached for comment.

And Gosnell himself? “I very strongly believe myself to be innocent of the heinous crimes of which I am accused.” (See interview in the book Gosnell by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer.)

I hope Gosnell’s victims rest in peace. I hope he undergoes a change of heart. And I hope our beloved state learns from his crimes and their aftermath. It’s not too late.

This post originally appeared on GraniteGrok.


If the Gosnell case is new to you, go to YouTube and find “3801 Lancaster: An American Tragedy,” or pick up the Gosnell book, or watch the film Gosnell. I also recommend the grand jury report on the case (PDF here; also available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99).

Recently on Radio

Karen Testerman was kind enough to invite me to guest-host her show in the WSMN 1590 (Nashua NH) studio the other day. I got to spend the first twenty minutes or so sharing good news about two of my favorite Nashua-area projects: St. Gianna’s Place, soon to open in Hudson; and CareNet (soon to be Real Options) in Nashua and Manchester, going strong after 30 years.  Also, since I had the mic right there, I cheered for the unexpected success of “Unplanned” at the box office. (Video link courtesy of WSMN 1590 via Facebook.)

 

Too-long-delayed thanks as well to Liz Gabert, another WSMN personality, who welcomed me to “Life with Liz” back in March. I love doing her show, which always includes high spirits and wide-ranging conversation!

Infanticide Without Representation

Originally published at Leaven for the Loaf.

Congressman Chris Pappas

Member of Congress Chris Pappas (D-NH)

Want to change the stigma around infanticide? Easy: just rename it. The catch-all term “reproductive rights” will cover it. That’s the protocol that’s been adopted by my Member of Congress, at any rate.

I recently sent an email message to Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH) regarding the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. I asked him to support a discharge petition that would bring the bill to the House floor for a vote. I pointed out that the bill was about taking care of newborn children who survive attempted abortion. I said that I knew we disagreed on abortion, but surely we could find common ground on caring for infants.

What I received in return was an email from Pappas’s office about his support for reproductive rights. It was obviously a form letter, designed to address anything even remotely touching on abortion. Just one problem there: I hadn’t written to him about reproductive rights; I had written to him about caring for newborns. (Senator Maggie Hassan sent me a similar non sequitur earlier this year.)

Congressman Chris Pappas thinks caring for newborns is a threat to reproductive rights, if those newborns are the survivors of an attempt to kill them in utero. This is the man representing my district in Congress.

Here’s his message in full. Note well the contact information he kindly provides at the end.

Thank you for contacting me regarding reproductive rights. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me, as it helps me better represent you and New Hampshire’s priorities in Congress.

I believe that every American is afforded the right to privacy and should have the freedom to make personal decisions about their health care.  I am committed to ensuring that women have access to the full range of reproductive health care choices. As a nation, we should focus on our common ground and shared goals – educating our children on sexual health, bolstering economic opportunity, and protecting our civil liberties.

Access to proper health care should be a right, and when women are denied the freedom to make their own personal health care decisions we not only limit their liberties but also their economic opportunities. We owe it to ourselves and to our neighbors to be as compassionate and understanding of their personal medical decisions as possible. Please know that I will keep your views in mind when considering legislation concerning reproductive rights.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts on this important matter, and I look forward to keeping in touch. I strive to maintain an open dialogue with the people of New Hampshire about issues that matter to our state. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact my Washington, DC office at (202) 225-5456 or my Dover office at (603) 285-4300. I also encourage you to keep up with the work I am doing by signing up for my weekly update at https://pappas.house.gov/contact/newsletter.

“We owe it to ourselves and to our neighbors to be as compassionate and understanding of their personal medical decisions as possible.”  That sentence only makes sense in the context of the born-alive bill if you think infanticide is a “personal medical decision.” Someone else’s decision, of course; the doomed child has no voice.

“Access to proper health care should be a right…” Abortion isn’t health care, and neither is infanticide.

A change of heart is always possible, even for Members of Congress. My Congressman needs to hear from people who have enough compassion and understanding to assure him that’s it’s OK to support care for newborn children who have survived abortion.

More than once in the course of writing about life-issue legislation, I’ve asked a question: is a woman seeking abortion entitled to a terminated pregnancy or a dead baby? What happens when the induced abortion results not only in termination of pregnancy but in a live birth? In an uncharitable moment, I wrote that the dead-baby caucus was in charge.

I guess I was right.

Take a Baby Step: Pass Abortion Statistics

Originally published on GraniteGrok.

The New Hampshire House will vote on March 7 on HB 158, an abortion statistics bill. Here’s where we’ll find out just how much the news out of New York and Vermont has influenced New Hampshire legislators. Are they distressed to be in one of the few states that leaves abortion unregulated throughout pregnancy? Then here’s a baby step: let our public health authorities at least find out how many abortions take place in New Hampshire. 

This bill won’t recognize a right to life. It doesn’t call for tracking post-abortion maternal injury or death, and it therefore would not detect abortion providers with a pattern of harming patients. It provides protection for the anonymity of women seeking abortion.

It would bring New Hampshire into line with the forty-seven other states that report abortion statistics, in aggregated non-personally-identifying form, to the Centers for Disease Control.

Abortion advocates are fighting this, as they have fought every attempt to find out how many abortions are performed in our state annually.

New Hampshire is arguably the most Gosnell-friendly state in the union, although New York is trying its best to join us. (Former abortionist Kermit Gosnell is serving life in prison for first-degree murder and manslaughter, after carrying on his business for years in Pennsylvania, a state that for a long time turned a blind eye to abortion providers.) Want to step away from that ghastly position?

Take a baby step. Pass HB 158.

Update: the House defeated HB 158, marking the eighth time since 2002 that abortion statistics legislation has failed to advance in New Hampshire.

Death Penalty Repeal Considered in N.H. Again

Update, 5/4/19: HB 455 passed House and Senate but was vetoed by Gov. Sununu. An override vote has not yet been scheduled.

A veto by Governor Chris Sununu last June stopped a bill to repeal New Hampshire’s death penalty statute. Undeterred, advocates of repeal have brought forth another bill this year, HB 455. It just received an “ought to pass” recommendation from the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee on a vote of 11-6. I’m glad to see that.

The repeal effort picked up a powerful advocate this time: Rep. David Welch (R-Kingston). He’s the committee’s ranking Republican and former chairman.

I went to the recent public hearing on HB 455 to sign “the blue sheet” indicating my support. I’m a registered lobbyist with a client that does not take a position on capital punishment, so as I entered the room I had to take off my orange badge and become just another member of the general public losing time from work in order to weigh in on the bill. I caught just the end of Rep. Welch’s testimony.

As quoted in a New Hampshire Union Leader report, Rep. Welch announced he had abandoned his longtime support for capital punishment. “Now I’ve resolved my positions. I’m consistently prolife and will not vote for the death penalty.”

Remember that the next time you think someone’s views on the right to life are set in stone.

Read the rest of the post at Leaven for the Loaf. 

Building a Shelter: St. Gianna’s Place

Originally published at Leaven for the Loaf.

After a long search, the board of St. Gianna’s Place has made the announcement I’ve been waiting for. From Facebook:

With great joy and gratitude, we announce that St. Gianna’s Place has found a home! We signed a lease on February 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. We will soon be opening our doors to welcome pregnant women in crisis and their babies. We are grateful to God for leading and inspiring us on this journey, and we are grateful to our supporters for making this possible.
We humbly ask for your continued prayers and support as we prepare to open our home to some of God’s most vulnerable. We are hosting a Go Fund Me event to raise money to purchase necessary items for our new home. If you would like to help, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/StGiannasPlace.
Again, thank you for your continued prayers and support.
“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His Goodness.” St. Gianna pray for us!

How fitting that the lease was signed on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, given the faith and persistence of the volunteers who have brought the project this far. Housing for pregnant and parenting women in crisis is at a premium in southern New Hampshire, and St. Gianna’s Place will be part of a solution. The home will be in Hudson, and the opening date will be announced later. Right now, the task at hand is to prepare the building for occupancy.

Please view and share the Go Fund Me page set up by St. Gianna’s Place volunteers. Their immediate goal is $1000 for basic things like linens and cleaning supplies. A modest donation can go a long way.

I recall listening to a St. Gianna’s board member a couple of years ago, describing the vision driving the project. “Our Calcutta is right here,” she told me, comparing Mother Teresa’s mission field to ours here in New Hampshire, where so many more shelter beds are needed.

The signed lease goes a long way toward bringing the vision to life.