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).

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. 

Facts About N.H. Abortion Laws

(Note: This is based on a post I wrote for Cornerstone Action, which kindly gave me permission to re-post here.)

New York’s governor ordered buildings to be illuminated in pink lights on January 22, in celebration of state law he had just signed eliminating most limitations on abortion. Legislators in Virginia and Vermont are ready to follow suit with radically anti-life policies.

Think it couldn’t happen in New Hampshire? The grim fact is that it already has. New Hampshire is one of the most abortion-friendly states in the country. Here are the facts.

How far into pregnancy are abortions permitted in New Hampshire?

  • Abortions are legal, unrestricted, and unregulated throughout all 40 weeks of pregnancy in New Hampshire.
  • As recently as 2017 and 2018, legislators rejected bills that would have provided protection for viable preborn children.

What laws in New Hampshire affect abortion now?

  • New Hampshire has a parental notification statute. When a minor seeks abortion, she needs to notify a parent or guardian, or else use a “judicial bypass” in which a judge determines she is mature enough to make her own decision. The law calls for notification, not consent.
  • New Hampshire bans the barbaric abortion method known as partial-birth abortion or dilation-&-extraction, in which a child is delivered partway before being killed. This ban was passed in 2012.
  • As of early 2019, New Hampshire policy limits the use of Medicaid funds for abortion.
  • New Hampshire adopted a fetal homicide statute in 2017, allowing prosecutors the option of filing homicide charges against a person whose bad actions cause the death of a preborn child against the mother’s will. While not an abortion law, it was bitterly opposed by abortion advocates.

How many abortions are performed in New Hampshire annually?

  • No one knows, and that includes state lawmakers. New Hampshire does not have an abortion statistics law, despite the fact that the federal Centers for Disease Control attempts to collect abortion data. Forty-seven other states manage to collect and report such data, while protecting the anonymity and privacy of individual women obtaining abortions.
  • New Hampshire public health officials have no reliable data on the age of women seeking abortion, the stage of pregnancy at which abortions are performed, and whether women are experiencing abortion complications.

How many doctors do abortions in New Hampshire?

  • No one knows, since public health authorities do not collect any data on abortions.
  • There is no requirement that abortion providers in New Hampshire have any medical training or certification whatsoever.

Do New Hampshire state public health authorities inspect abortion facilities?

  • No, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. From a May 19, 2013 report in the New Hampshire Sunday News: “Kris Neilsen, communications director for the state Department of Health and Human Services, explained in an email that abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood and the Concord Feminist Health Center are exempt from state licensing and inspection requirements because they are considered physician offices. Twenty-three health care providers such as hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, and dialysis centers are licensed by the state, but not abortion clinics. ‘In New Hampshire, there is no such thing as an abortion clinic – the majority of abortions are done in doctors offices … and doctors’ offices are exempt from licensure under RSA 151:2 II,’ Neilsen said. ‘Because they are exempt, we have no jurisdiction over them, and neither does anyone else.’”

Who sets standards for abortion facilities?

  • The abortion providers themselves determine what standards to use. Since there is no law that providers have any medical training, those “standards” need not relate in any way to women’s health.

What’s the rate of post-abortion complications experienced by New Hampshire women?

  • No one knows, since lawmakers refuse to demand abortion statistics and public health officials decline to collect them. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” sums it up.

Does New Hampshire law protect children who survive attempted abortion?

  • No. Children who survive attempted abortion are not entitled to any more care than the abortionist wishes to provide. A bill to recognize a duty to care for such infants was defeated by the New Hampshire House in 2016.

Does New Hampshire law recognize the conscience rights of health care personnel who choose not to participate in abortion?

  • No. A bill to provide conscience protections was killed in the New Hampshire House in 2018. Health care professionals in New Hampshire can lose their jobs and be subject to professional sanctions for refusing to assist in abortions.

How did New Hampshire become such a haven for abortion providers?

  • In 1997, then-Governor (now U.S. Senator) Jeanne Shaheen signed a lawrepealing New Hampshire’s 19th-century anti-abortion laws. She did so knowing full well that no updated laws were in place. With a stroke of her pen, and with the cooperation of legislators, New Hampshire abortion regulation disappeared. So did concern for the health of women obtaining abortions. So did concern for preborn children, even moments away from birth.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can help turn a culture of abortion into a culture that respects and nurtures life, especially in its most vulnerable stages.

  • Share the message: Knowledge is power, and many people don’t know the facts about abortion in New Hampshire.
  • Pray. Join with your faith community. A culture of prayer will lead to a culture of life.
  • Politicians bear a great deal of responsibility for New Hampshire’s abortion-friendly laws, but blaming Concord won’t help. What will help is electing representatives at all levels of government who respect the right to life, and who care about the health of pregnant women and their children. Vote for candidates who recognize that New Hampshire law relative to abortion must be changed.
  • Consider running for local or state office.
  • Work within your community to create and sustain life-affirming options for women and children at risk from abortion. Contact your local pro-life pregnancy care center to learn about practical ways you can help.

A Party’s (Dis)Unity, a Party’s Priorities

Adapted from a post at Leaven for the Loaf.

The New Hampshire House has voted to kill a “right-to-work” bill. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are noisy with the cries of RTW advocates who are upset that SB 11 failed on the Republicans’ watch. Right-to-work is in the state GOP platform. Republican leadership in legislative and executive branches promoted the bill.  It failed anyway, by 23 votes.

*Yawn.*

No one who has seen pro-life bills fail in the New Hampshire House under Republican majorities can be shocked when “party unity” fails. Continue reading