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

“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.

A note about Mitt Romney

This morning, Mitt Romney announced that he wouldn’t run for President in 2016. I wish him well.

I was a Santorum backer in the early 2012 process. When the New Hampshire GOP – and by extension, the Romney campaign – invited me to come on board in July 2012, I did so. It wouldn’t have missed that experience for anything. Romneycare put me off when the primary was in its early stages. Once Romney was the nominee, however, no question: he had my vote. In the course of the campaign, I grew to respect the man. He’s Governor Romney to me, not “Mitt.” Always will be.

One of the ways I evaluate a candidate is to see how much she or he annoys the security detail. The security team is charged with guaranteeing a candidate’s safety. The candidate’s job, at least here in the home of the First in the Nation Primary, is to maximize contact with voters. Something’s gotta give. Thereby hangs a tale.

In July 2012, Governor Romney was scheduled for a campaign stop in Bow, New Hampshire. It was a small venue, capacity 200 or so. Enthusiasm ran high, and we took calls throughout the preceding week from people wanting to attend.

Just a few hours before the event was to take place, the horrible shootings were committed in Aurora, Colorado. Both President Obama and Governor Romney briefly suspended campaign rallies, recognizing that it was unseemly to hustle for votes while victims of a mass slaughter were still being identified.

The Governor was already in New Hampshire when the news from Aurora came out. It was too late to cancel the Bow event; people were lined up hours in advance. The event was delayed. Word came down from the Romney staff that the planned speech was going to be replaced with brief remarks. No one left; everyone in attendance wanted to see him even for a short program. Yet more delay. Suddenly, those of us on the local staff got an urgent request from the Governor: could we please line up a local member of the clergy to offer a prayer? One of my more resourceful colleagues did so.

Finally, about an hour after he had been scheduled to speak, the Governor quietly stood before the crowd. The minister who had come to offer the prayer preceded him at the microphone. Then Mitt Romney spoke for less than five minutes, somber and respectful. No campaign pitch. Pure class.

When he was finished, the dark SUVs of the campaign lined up just outside with engines running, ready to go. Serious-looking people wearing dark suits and earpieces attempted to usher the Governor to one of the vehicles. Nothing doing. Without the slightest hesitation, as though the security detail and the idling vehicles were nowhere in sight, the Governor created an impromptu receiving line. He invited Fr. Tutor, the visiting minister, and Senator Kelly Ayotte to stand with him. And then he shook hands with every single person who had come, saying thank-you for patience and support. He did not look at his watch. He did not glance down the line to see how many people remained. That’s the Mitt Romney I’ll remember all my life. I was the last person in line, and I wanted to hug the guy. (I refrained. Couldn’t afford to lose the job.)

The security crew looked like it was going to have a collective breakdown. It was beautiful sight.

As I said, I wish him well.