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).

On My Small Scale, a Good Year

Remembering some good walks & looking ahead to others…

Granite State Walker

Five hundred miles. The app on my phone assures me that’s how far I’ve walked and hiked this year. Not far by comparison with many (most?) other hikers, I know. Still, I covered some fine southern New Hampshire places. Thirty-three towns, according to my trail notes, plus a probably-once-in-a-lifetime visit to a place way beyond the border. Not a bad year at all.

image6 August in Winant Park, Concord: mushrooms, not blossoms, bedeck the trails.

Nashua’s Mine Falls might be my favorite city park, but Concord’s Winant Park was a contender this year. I frequently have business in Concord, with Winant only a short drive away. All by itself it justified keeping a pair of trail shoes in the car for spur-of-the-moment hikes.

I visited Miller State Park one late-spring day just before sunset, and had the usually-busy Pack Monadnock summit and fire tower to myself. In thirty years of…

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Happy Birthday to the Cohos Trail!

I’m on a business trip in a faraway city right now, when I’d rather be in Stewartstown, New Hampshire. There’s a celebration going on there in honor of a place and people who have come to mean a lot to me. The Cohos Trail is turning 20, and the coming-of-age party is happening today.

In twenty years, I’ve spent maybe eight hours on trail maintenance up there in northern New Hampshire. That’s not even a blip in the tally of volunteer hours and days and weeks given by countless people over the past two decades to build and maintain the CT. If I were at today’s party, I’d be able to meet some of them and offer face-to-face thanks. As it is, this meager post will have to do.

Read the rest of the post at Granite State Walker.

“Advancing the Freedom to Serve”: Archbishop Lori has ideas for the next President

The Obamacare HHS contraceptive mandate prompted the American Catholic bishops a few years ago to speak unanimously in strong terms about the policy’s undermining of religious liberty. Since then, the bishops’ conference has made a point of trying to keep the Catholic faithful apprised of our religious freedoms and some threats those freedoms are facing.

If you tweet, follow @usccbfreedom. If you prefer email, sign up at usccb.org/freedom. Read what Archbishop Lori of Baltimore published today via Catholic News Service about steps the incoming federal Administration can do to respect the rights of all Americans to practice their faith at all times, not just an hour a week inside a designated building.

President-elect Trump has the opportunity to ensure that people of all faiths can continue to do their good work in serving their communities without having to violate their consciences or face crippling fines or onerous lawsuits. Our hope is that the next administration will ensure that Americans remain free to serve.

Read the full post for the steps Archbishop Lori recommends. Repeal of the contraceptive mandate is just one of them.

 

I Will Not Be Joining the New Pro-Life Movement Anytime Soon

Swimming the Depths gives Catholic activists something to think about here: what is it to be pro-life – or rather pro-life enough? “…the right to life holds supremacy and we work from there to achieve the common good through the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. There is a hierarchy and ‘seamless garment’ arguments only work if the dignity of the human person is at the top of everything else.”

Swimming the Depths

I will not be jumping on the New Pro-Life Movement bandwagon anytime soon. Mainly because I find the constant bandwagons of the Catholic blogosphere tiresome and intentionally divisive. I have studied moral theology and Catholic Social Teaching in-depth. The two are intimately linked with the dignity of the human person grounding all other aspects of her teaching. That means the right to life holds supremacy and we work from there to achieve the common good through the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. There is a hierarchy and “seamless garment” arguments only work if the dignity of the human person is at the top of everything else.

Like most movements like this, it seems to be predicated largely upon straw men. The idea that the Republican Party is evil (of course it is, it is run by Fallen men, sin is a part of secular institutions just like the Church. The…

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“An ocean of mercy waiting for us”

The Year of Mercy is drawing to a close, leaving us the commission to keep it going in our respective ways. I just encountered the #MercyStories series on the YouTube channel for the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council. I was drawn to “Poster Child of Divine Mercy: The Testimony of Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC” because the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Father Calloway’s order, have been important to my husband and me for many years. Their promotion of the Divine Mercy devotion has been profoundly effective.

Father Calloway’s story is one for me to keep in my heart as I see the Holy Door at the church near me closing at the end of the liturgical year. The Mercy of God knows no calendar. In hearing each other’s down-to-earth stories of mercy in action, I can see the hand of God reaching out to us in unexpected – not to say unnerving – ways. We can be inspired to hope and act in a way that manifests that mercy, passing it forward.

The full series of 14 videos can be seen at the link below. Pick any one, or binge on the whole thing. As Father Calloway says, there is “an ocean of mercy waiting for us.”