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Emily’s List Puts Gov. Sununu And NH Legislature ‘On Notice’ For Attacks On Women’s Rights

Since Governor Chris Sununu took office the New Hampshire State Legislature has been pushing their ideological right wing agenda.  With the help of Governor Sununu, some of their crazy bills have actually become law.

The legislature attempted to ram through a number of bills attacking women’s reproductive rights.  Most notably was SB66, the “fetal personhood” bill, that passed along party lines. Before Sununu signed the bill it was determined that the bill was fundamentally flawed giving pregnant women “impunity to commit murder.”

“SB 66 would include the term ‘fetus’ in the definition of ‘another’ for the purpose of first and second degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and causing or aiding suicide.  This would not apply to women seeking medical procedures or abortions.” (Rewire, 3/21/17)

Anti-women Republicans in the Legislature also pushed a repeal of the state’s “buffer zone law,” a bill to publicly report women who sought an abortion, and an outright ban on abortions after 21 weeks with no exceptions.

These actions have prompted EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, put Republicans in New Hampshire’s General Court “On Notice” for the upcoming 2018 election. “On Notice” is a list of incumbent Republicans and legislative chambers at all levels of government being called out by EMILY’s List for their anti-woman and anti-family records. EMILY’s List is targeting these seats and chambers in its 2018 electoral efforts.

“Republicans in the New Hampshire Legislature have amassed a shameful record of voting to turn back the clock on women’s rights,” said EMILY’s List Executive Director Emily Cain. “These legislators have recklessly passed legislation that limits the reproductive rights of women, have attempted to repeal the existing law that provides buffer zones to protect women, and have attempted to put in place an abortion ban after just over 21 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest. That is why EMILY’s List is recruiting an historic number of strong, pro-choice Democratic women leaders  in 2018 to hold these Republican legislators accountable for their out-of-touch agenda.”

Aside from the “fetal personhood” legislation that Governor Sununu signed, he also campaigned on his support of anti-abortion legislation and a “pro-life” agenda.

Sununu also failed to condemn, then candidate Donald Trump, after the Access Hollywood tapes became public.

“Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu is not revoking his endorsement of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and says party members need to stand behind the nominee, despite the release of a videotape in which Trump is heard bragging about groping and otherwise sexually assaulting women.” [Union Leader, 10/10/16]

For these reasons Emily’s List has also put Governor Chis Sununu “On Notice.”

“Governor Chris Sununu has amassed a shameful record of turning his back on women’s rights and shortchanging New Hampshire  families,” said EMILY’s List Executive Director Emily Cain. “Sununu approved a reckless bill that could put New Hampshire on the path to recognizing ‘personhood,’ refused to disavow Donald Trump time after time, and stood up for anti-choice legislation. That is why EMILY’s List is putting Sununu ‘On Notice’ and targeting this seat, because New Hampshire women deserve far better than failed leadership from this governor.”

With nearly 18,000 women reaching out to EMILY’s List interested in running for office, the organization has tripled the size of its state and local campaign staff in order to provide candidates with the resources they need to run and win.

The 2018 launch of this state-level “On Notice” program includes three governors, legislative bodies in ten states, three secretaries of state and a state attorney general, and is the largest ever in the organization’s 32-year history. It follows the announcement of EMILY’s List’s top congressional and Senate targets in July. A full list of state-level Republican targets can be found here.

Will Gov Sununu Save The NH Health Protection Program?

In Wake of Republican Healthcare Repeal Failure, Democratic Leaders Renew Call for Governor Sununu and Republicans to Work Across Party Lines on Healthcare

State Senator Jeff Woodburn and Rep Steve Shurtleff Push for Reauthorization of NH Health Protection Program

As millions of Americans are waiting with baited breath to see whether or not the Republicans in Washington D.C. are going to strip away their healthcare, the 50,000 Granite Staters who rely on the ACA’s expanded Medicaid program are waiting to see what Governor Chris Sununu will do.

From early on in his campaign, he has opposed the Affordable Care Act and has called for a repeal and then after he was elected, and the GOP took control in Washington, he began calling for a full repeal & replacement.

“To be clear, reform without an adequate replacement is not an acceptable option. Any repeal of the ACA must be simultaneous with a replacement,Sununu wrote in a letter to US Senate Majority Leaders.

“Reforming our nation’s health care system is imperative and our leaders must take swift, but thoughtful bipartisan action that is transparent and welcomes all sides to the table,” he added.

Now the Democratic Leaders in the NH Legislature are calling on Governor Sununu to put his words into action. Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn and House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff urged Governor Sununu and legislative Republicans to finally get to work on reauthorizing the NH Health Protection Program:

“We are relieved that Republican attempts to undermine healthcare have failed and given that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, we urge Governor Sununu and his Republican leaders to begin negotiations with us to improve our healthcare system and bring down healthcare costs.”

“The most critical thing we need to do is reauthorize the NH Health Protection Program (NHHPP), which is scheduled to end next year, as soon as possible. The NHHPP is a uniquely New Hampshire solution that more than 52,000 Granite Staters rely on for their health care, drives down costs for our businesses, hospitals, working families and our state, stabilizes our insurance market, and plays a vital role in combating the opioid crisis.”

“Democrats have attempted to work with Governor Sununu and the Republican majorities in the legislature to reauthorize and improve this successful program all year, but have been brushed aside as they waited on their Republicans allies in Washington to act. Its time to do what’s right for the people of New Hampshire and we call on Governor Sununu and his Republican legislative majorities to stop putting partisan politics above the health and well-being of hard-working Granite Staters, stop dragging their feet, and begin working with us to renew this successful program as soon as possible.”

As the US Senate voted to give tax breaks to billionaires while slashing Medicaid and Medicare on their Healthcare plan, Governor Sununu remained completely silent.  In a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell on June 27th, he voiced concern over the cuts to Medicaid and NH’s ability to keep the 50,000 Granite Staters currently relying on the program insured.  Ensuring that the current recipients of insurance through the Medicaid Expansion would not be kicked off their healthcare was a cornerstone of Sununu’s campaign.

However Governor, it is time to put up or shut up.

Governor Sununu must work with both sides of the aisle and find a way to ensure that the NH Health Protection Program becomes permanent until such time that all Americans are fully covered.

NH Passes Full Day Kindergarten, Sort Of

Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 191 also known as “Keno-garten” to partially fund full-day kindergarten in New Hampshire.

The bill would pay a portion of the costs ($1,100 of the $1,800 per pupil) to expand half-day kindergarten to full day with revenue generated through the state’s new Keno lottery.  There are no guarantees that Keno revenue will be enough to fund the program in the coming years and the bill still does not require all NH schools to expand kindergarten to a full day program.

The National Education Association of NH, representing thousands of educators across the state, explained the dilemma over SB 191 in their open letter urging legislators to support SB191.

“To be clear, SB 191 as amended by the Committee of Conference, is not perfect. NEA-New Hampshire has always, and will always continue, to advocate that full day kindergarten be funded in full in the same manner as all other grades. However, NEA-NH also recognizes sometimes you have to compromise in the process of getting to your ultimate goal.

SB 191 is just such a compromise. Yes, it does not guarantee full funding of kindergarten, and yes, the funding mechanism is not necessarily the one I would have chosen. But it is also the largest step New Hampshire has ever taken toward fully funding full day kindergarten that has occurred since I began teaching 18 years ago.

…New Hampshire’s current method of kindergarten funding puts an enormous burden on the 70% of New Hampshire municipalities (covering 80% of New Hampshire’s students) that have voluntarily elected to offer full day kindergarten. SB 191 will provide significant tax relief to those towns, and hopefully, encourage the remaining cities and towns to adopt full day kindergarten as well.

NEA-New Hampshire believes that all school districts should offer full day kindergarten. While passage of SB 191 does not accomplish that goal, it certainly puts New Hampshire much, much closer to reaching it than we ever have before.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn is disappointed that Republicans refused to adopt a fully funded, full day kindergarten program and vows to continue to push for a fully funded, mandatory full day kindergarten program.

“Senate Democrats have been leading advocates for Kindergarten, and for fully funding full-day Kindergarten, for many years — we know this issue well and we know what this means for our communities. Passing full funding for full-day Kindergarten should have been an easy task. Governor Sununu promised to support it during his campaign and full funding for full-day Kindergarten passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.”

“It’s disappointing that in the final hour, Governor Sununu and Republicans snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by removing full-day Kindergarten from the budget, abandoning full funding, and choosing to push a half-measure tied to Keno. Make no mistake, SB 191 does not fully fund full-day Kindergarten. But, Democrats will continue to lead the fight for full funding for full-day Kindergarten with no strings attached.”

NH Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley highlighted that newly elected Governor Chris Sununu campaigned heavily on expanding kindergarten and has “broken a key campaign promise.”

“The governor broke a key campaign promise today. Instead of the fully-funded full day kindergarten he pledged on the campaign trail, he offered a half-measure and turned a blind eye while Republicans gutted even that. Because of Sununu’s abject failure to lead, Democrats were forced to pick up the pieces and salvage what was left for the sake of our kids. Governor Sununu and the Republicans always seem to make common sense a complicated calculus. While Democratic leaders would simply pass fully-funded full day kindergarten, Republicans need to cut it in half, tie it to gambling measures, and beg their members to vote yes. Real reform requires real champions, and Republicans are anything but.”

After the bill passed NEA-New Hampshire praised its passage.

“NEA-New Hampshire applauds the passage of SB 191, and thanks Governor Sununu and the bi-partisan coalition of legislators for finally putting New Hampshire on the path to full day kindergarten,” said Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-NH. “The benefits of full-day kindergarten are clear. Those students that attend full-day kindergarten are better prepared to enter first grade, have a higher high school graduation rate and are more likely to go to college. Full day kindergarten is a sound educational investment and I am thrilled that the legislators in Concord have recognized that.”

Now that the bill has passed questions still remain about the constitutionality of the legislation.  Andru Volinsky, Executive Councilor, and the lead lawyer in the Claremont education funding case of 1997, told WMUR last week that the bill is unconstitutional.

… Senate Bill 191 fails to meet the standard set out in the landmark 1997 New Hampshire Supreme Court decision in the Claremont school funding case requiring the state to provide and fund a constitutionally adequate education to all students.

….The Claremont ruling did not specifically refer to kindergarten, but it did say that the state’s system of funding “elementary and secondary public education” at the time, almost entirely through property taxes, was unconstitutional.

“Full-day kindergarten is part of a constitutionally adequate education,” Volinsky said Friday. “And once you understand that concept, you understand that the state must pay for constitutional adequacy.”

Volinsky also said, by failing to fully fund, full day kindergarten local school districts who choose to expand kindergarten will be putting even more “burden on local taxpayers”.

For those that have already chosen to expand kindergarten programs, this bill is a step in the right direction but it does not go as far as it should. This bill will help the 70% of school districts that already offer full day kindergarten.

Republicans Force Through Substantive Changes To “Fetal Homicide” Bill

Legislators and Civil Rights Group Call on Governor Sununu to Veto the Bill.

Yesterday morning the New Hampshire House and Senate voted to adopt an Enrolled Bills Committee Amendment to SB 66 – a fetal personhood measure recognizing a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time in New Hampshire law. The amended bill now makes its way to Governor Chris Sununu’s desk.

During yesterday’s floor debate, House Speaker Shawn Jasper confirmed the enrolled bill amendment was put forth because SB 66, as passed by both chambers, would have allowed pregnant women to commit murder with impunity. Enrolled bill amendments are rarely voted on by the full House and Senate because they are normally restricted to typographical or technical errors.

Yesterday, the House and Senate voted to adopt a substantive enrolled bill amendment significantly changing the structure of the exceptions to SB 66’s expansion of New Hampshire’s homicide laws.

“This bill, which makes major changes to New Hampshire’s homicide laws, deserved a full vetting by the legislature.  It is our duty to write the state’s laws through an open, transparent process, and making substantive changes to our state’s murder laws in the way that we did today is a disservice to New Hampshire,” said Representative Renny Cushing (D-Hampton).  “What the House did today was legislative malpractice, and I am concerned about the long term implications this will have on our democracy.”

“We urge Governor Sununu to veto this legislation,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Hampshire. “The fact that this last minute amendment was needed to avoid some of SB 66’s outrageous unintended consequences demonstrates that the bill was not fully vetted. The amendment adopted today is also extremely confusing, jeopardizing critical exemptions intended to protect pregnant women and their physicians from unjust murder and other homicide charges.”

Additional unintended consequences of SB 66 not addressed in the enrolled bills amendment includes the bill’s medically inaccurate definition of a fetus, which would be the only definition of a fetus in New Hampshire law. Judges could reasonably look to this medically inaccurate definition when interpreting the term “fetus” as it appears in other statutes including: the assault statute; the vital records statute; or the statute governing organ donation.

“This Republican bill has been plagued with issues from the outset. If as much effort was invested into writing the bill as was invested into eroding women’s reproductive rights, perhaps our Republican colleagues wouldn’t need to break Senate procedure to fix their mistakes,” said Senator Donna Soucy (D-Manchester), Deputy Democratic Leader in the Senate.

“Not only were medical experts never consulted during the construction of this bill, but Republicans were so careless as to include language that provides immunity for pregnant women in homicide cases. Now, they’re scrambling after-the-fact to use a legislative process normally used to correct spelling errors to make major policy changes about women’s reproductive health. And to demonstrate how desperate Republicans are, when a Senate colleague stepped forward in standard Senate procedure to voice her opposition to this process, she was interrupted and shut down by her Republican colleagues. This legislation is an exercise in poor craftsmanship on top of bad policy, and I’m concerned with the precedent this creates,” added Soucy.

“It is extraordinarily disheartening to me that the body would choose to make substantive changes to the entire homicide statute at a point in the process designed to ‘correct any error or omission in the references to statutes, or other technical or clerical errors.’  Today’s actions set an extremely disturbing precedent,” stated Representative Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst).

Senate Bill 66 establishes a basis for discrimination against pregnant women by codifying a medically unsound definition of a fetus as a separate person capable of being a victim of a crime. While the law is said to be an attempt to win justice for parents who lose a child during pregnancy due to criminal action, laws like SB 66 are used in other states to punish pregnant women for “risky” behaviors that are not criminal for others and has created legal argument to attack women’s reproductive health services.

Existing New Hampshire law currently provides for severe enhanced penalties for violent crimes resulting in the loss of pregnancy, without the outrageous unintended consequences that exist within SB 66. Under that existing New Hampshire law, a person may be prosecuted for First Degree Assault if they purposely or knowingly cause injury to another resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth—a class A Felony carrying a sentence of up to 15 years.

Republicans Force Through The NH Budget With Tax Giveaways To The Wealthy

Today, the New Hampshire House and New Hampshire Senate voted to approve the state’s two-year budget.  The vote 198-69 in the House and 14-9 in the Senate, were mostly along party lines.

The Governor and the rest of the NH Republican Party are praising the budget because it contains “no new taxes” and additionally cuts taxes for businesses saying that will somehow magically create jobs.  What they conveniently avoided talking about are the cuts to job training programs that businesses say are necessary to train workers for the vacant jobs available right now.

There are also cuts to the state’s nursing home budget, decreased funding to the NH University system that will lead to higher tuition rates, less money for drug treatment rehabilitation services, less money to fight the growing opioid epidemic,  and so much more.

The House Democrats were angry that the Republicans forced these massive cuts through to give big business more tax breaks.

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff:

“This budget is a major disappointment for New Hampshire.  Democrats repeatedly expressed our desire to work with the majority on a bipartisan budget that upholds New Hampshire values, and at every turn we were ignored as House leadership turned to the far right of their party to craft their plan.”

“Democratic proposals to adequately fund mental health and developmental disability services, and to provide sufficient funds to take on the opioid epidemic, were moderate and reasonable.”

“The decision by House budget writers to ignore Democratic proposals, and instead include poison pills like the Hyde amendment, a Medicaid waiver requirement that will likely end the state’s successful Medicaid Expansion program, and the inclusion of further tax cuts for big business, solidified Democratic opposition to what could have been a bipartisan proposal.”

“This budget isn’t even honest or transparent with taxpayers.  Hundreds of millions of dollars in spending, which was purposely left out of the budget to achieve an artificially deflated bottom line, will now be determined through the ten member Fiscal committee.”

“The gimmicks, harmful policy choices, and lack of a serious long-term investment in our state all make this budget unacceptable to House Democrats.”

Representative Mary Jane Wallner:

“This budget represents a missed opportunity to make the investments our state needs to stay competitive and grow our economy.  At a time when our business community is begging for an educated workforce as their top priority, this budget fails to invest in education and cuts state revenues for years into the future.”

“At a time when the opioid crisis continues to grow, with more deaths and more deadly drugs hitting our streets, we have failed to make the investments needed to effectively combat this harmful epidemic.”

“New Hampshire’s successful Medicaid Expansion program currently provides health care for over 53,000 Granite Staters.  This budget puts that program at risk of being ended based on the decisions of bureaucrats in Washington.”

“The Republican majority could have worked with Democrats to pass a bipartisan budget that works for all New Hampshire citizens.  The fact that they chose an ultra-conservative tact at every opportunity sets our state back and is a disappointment to all who support responsible, bipartisan government.

In the Senate, the vote was strictly down party lines.  The Republicans steamrolled Democrats to force this draconian budget through.

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield) released the following after the vote:

“Today, Democrats stood united with working families and their priorities by voting against the Republican budget. Even though we approached our Republican colleagues many times in the spirit of compromise and offered countless amendments to make the budget reflective of the needs of real people in our communities, our efforts were rejected at every turn. The Republican budget agreement caves to the wealthy elite and short-changes those who are most in need.”

“It’s a grave mistake to force the people of New Hampshire to line the pockets of corporations while the critical investments our state so desperately needs go unmet. In good conscience and good faith, Democrats are not able to sign off on a budget that diverts funds away from our state’s critical substance misuse and mental health crises for the sake of more reckless business tax cuts. This budget continues a troubling pattern of forcing the working people in our state to pick up the bill.”

NHDP Chair Ray Buckley released the following after the budget votes:

“Governor Sununu’s reckless and dangerous budget will take New Hampshire’s progress and turn it into disrepair. The governor wants to give corporations a tax cut they never asked for. By doing so, he’s denying businesses the workforce training they did ask for.

These tax cuts are paid for by underfunding programs like the alcohol fund, DCYF, and the developmental disability waitlist. The governor may think these tax cuts are no big deal, but they’re a big deal to the people in the state who are seeking refuge from abuse and addiction or who need help with a disability.

This budget will deny them the resources they desperately need to stay afloat.

Corporate tax cuts will make students and their parents dig deeper for a tuition check. This governor, for lack of attention to detail, is blindly leaning on his ideology to solve problems that require the kind of serious attention he is too apathetic to give.”

So once again the New Hampshire Republican Party, led by their Trump loving Governor, Chris Sununu, have shown the people of New Hampshire that they only care about giving more money to big business and the rest of us can suck it.


After the initial publication of this post the NH Fiscal Policy Institute released their statement on the NH Budget.  The statement highlights just a few of the programs that will be directly effected by the cuts in the NH Budget.

“The state budget passed today by the New Hampshire House and Senate makes important strides in funding for critical health needs in the state, increasing capacity in the mental health system, boosting funding for child protection, and providing compensation rate increases for direct health service providers,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute.

“Importantly, the budget increases the thresholds for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits to 60 percent of federal poverty guidelines and provides annual adjustments to ensure benefits will keep up with inflation. This change will make a real difference for families who struggle to afford basic needs.”

“Policymakers also increased the state’s Rainy Day Fund to $100 million, which will provide a solid foundation in the event of an economic downturn or fiscal crisis,” noted Shea.

“At the same time, the tax changes in this budget reduced available revenue by $23.7 million and left policymakers with fewer resources to address needs that would have provided benefits to all New Hampshire residents and businesses, such as increasing funding for schools, roads, and other public infrastructure, and making higher education and workforce training more accessible.”

“The tax rate reductions passed in this budget increase the risk of reduced revenue for future years, and may limit the state’s ability to address future needs,” added Shea. “While this budget makes some important strides, the state may continue to fall behind in areas that are essential to ensuring a strong economy.”

Tax Giveaways For The Wealthy, While Kids Get Funding For Education Through KENO

This is why we cannot have nice things.  

Our screwed up system of state and local taxes creates many problems for state legislators when crafting our bi-annual state budget.  Our current system means we have to rely on the “sin taxes” aka booze and smokes.  Now they are basing funding for kindergarten on Keno sales.

Thats right. Instead of funding full day kindergarten as both Governor Sununu and Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern campaigned on, Republicans have agreed to partially fund full day kindergarten with revenue from a new Keno lottery game.  We are basing funding for the education of our children on Keno.

The Concord Monitor reports:

The amendment approved by a committee of conference would provide an additional $1,100 per full-day kindergarten student and would legalize the online lottery game keno to help pay for it. The plan also guarantees the funding even if keno revenues aren’t enough to cover the grants.”

The $1,100 additional adequacy grant does not cover the costs of full day kindergarten as the Union Leader explains.

The state currently offers school districts a grant of $1,800 per student for kindergarten enrollment. That’s half the so-called “adequacy grant” of $3,600 for students in grades 1-12, assuming half-day kindergarten programs.

Throughout the budget process Republicans have been saying we cannot afford to cover our proposed expenses and pay for full day kindergarten, but there is plenty of money to drop the Business Profits Tax.

Jeff Woodburn the Democratic Minority Leader in the NH Senate said:

Senate Democrats have been leading on Kindergarten for years, and we are glad Governor Sununu has at least attempted to follow our example. But, today’s failure to support full-day kindergarten like any other grade while giving even more tax cuts for the wealthy elite is a major disappointment and once again demonstrates Governor Sununu’s failure to lead. The fact that Governor Sununu could not get the Republican House to compromise raises real questions about the Governor’s commitment to full-day kindergarten and shows, once again, his commitment to partisan politics.”

“Just like his broken campaign promises to lead on reducing tuition at our colleges and universities and on family and medical leave insurance, this kindergarten shell game demonstrates Governor Sununu’s desire to put partisan politics ahead of meaningful progress for everyday Granite Staters.”

It is very clear that Republicans in the Legislature do not care about working people and children as they refuse to make full day kindergarten mandatory and fail to fully fund full day kindergarten.  They are more than willing to slash taxes on “business owners” at the expense of the needs and priorities of the state.

I do not want to hear any Republican say that we cannot afford  to fix our crumbling roads and bridges, fully fund full day kindergarten, invest in repairs for local schools, or that we cannot afford to expand rail service into NH until they replace the tax giveaways in this budget.

“Handmaid’s” Watch In Disgust As House Passes SB66, A Fetal Personhood Bill

Image by David Meuse

In an unprecedented assault on women’s reproductive rights, the NH House passed SB66, a ‘fetal personhood’ bill. The fetal personhood measure recognizes a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time under New Hampshire law.

Looking over the House floor was a group of “Handmaids” dressed in full red robes and wings, made popular by the breakout hit “A Handmaid’s Tale.”  In the show, women have become subservient to men in every way.  Handmaids, being the only women left who can possibly bear children, the Handmaids are given to high power families and forced into conceiving a child for their captors. If they do conceive a child with their “Commanders”, the high powered man of their house, the child becomes his and the handmaid is relegated to the position of wet nurse and nanny.

The handmaids have no rights to their own bodies which makes them the perfect symbol for the assault on women’s reproductive rights currently being pushed through our state legislature.

The proponents of the bill say the legislation will create stiffer penalties to those who attack a pregnant woman, causing harm to the fetus.   However, this legislation creates many problems. SB 66, as amended by the majority of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, is inconsistent with existing New Hampshire law and risks serious unintended consequences. The bill, which also includes a definition of a fetus, has no medical or legal grounding.

“By recognizing a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time under New Hampshire law, SB 66 threatens to pit the rights of a fetus against the rights of a pregnant woman,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Hampshire.

As the NH ACLU explained: “Existing New Hampshire law currently provides for severe enhanced penalties for violent crimes that result in the loss of pregnancy, without putting women’s rights at risk. Under existing New Hampshire law, a person may be prosecuted for First Degree Assault if that person purposely or knowingly causes injury to another resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth—a class A Felony carrying a sentence of up to 15 years.”

This is a heavy-handed attempt to eventually make abortion a crime.  “In states that have adopted fetal personhood measures like SB 66 as amended by the Committee, women have been targeted with arrest, prosecution and other deprivations of their liberty for their behavior during pregnancy,” added the NH ACLU.

Governor Sununu told the Union Leader of his intention to sign the bill.

“The fetal homicide bill is about justice for women,” Sununu stated.  He went on to say, that SB 66 “Has nothing to do with being pro-choice or pro-life,” despite actions by Republicans in the House who tried to repeal the 20 week provision in the law to say that “life begins at conception.”

Provisions like SB 66 add to a growing nationwide effort intended to create tension in the law between fetal rights and women’s rights. While SB 66 includes an exemption for abortion, opponents of abortion rights support such provisions as a legal foundation for overturning Roe v. Wade and its critical protections.

Action Together New Hampshire who organized the Handmaids for the session releases the following:

Action Together New Hampshire is disappointed but not surprised by the outcome of the House of Representatives votes on SB 3 and SB 66. We were surprised by several members of the House of Representatives and their behavior towards members exercising their right to protest peacefully. Voters in New Hampshire deserve leaders, not adults who behave like high school bullies.

If women are no longer able to control their own reproductive rights, what will the Republicans do next? Will they say that women cannot own property or control their own money or force them into slavery based “religious teachings” and scripture as the do in “The Handmaid’s Tale”?

This bill is a step in the wrong direction taking us one step closer to making a “Handmaid’s Tale” reality.

Image by Paul Brochu

NH House Committee Pushes ‘Fetal Personhood’ Bill To The House Floor

In an unprecedented move,
House Criminal Justice Committee reopens a retained bill

CONCORD – In an unprecedented move, the NH House Criminal Justice Committee passed SB 66  out of committee by a vote of 12-8. The House Committee previously retained the bill by a margin of 21-1. SB 66, if passed, would recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time in New Hampshire law.

SB 66 is a bill that poses serious unintended consequences and threatens women’s rights and health. The bill, as reported out by the House Criminal Justice Committee, would recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime. In doing so, SB 66 pits the rights of women against the rights of a fetus – threatening to erode the reproductive rights of Granite State women and to advance a larger national agenda to undermine the Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion access.

”In other states that have adopted personhood measures like SB 66, pregnant women have been subjected to surveillance, arrest, incarceration, and unwanted medical treatment,” says Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU-NH. “SB 66 is inconsistent with existing New Hampshire statutes, and pits women’s rights against fetal rights in a manner that threatens to undermine pregnant women’s status as full persons under the law.”

As amended by the Senate, SB 66 uses medically inaccurate terminology. The Senate amendment to SB 66 removed the term “viability” from the bill and included a definition of “fetus” that is inconsistent with how that term is understood by the medical community.  Additionally, the Senate amendment’s use of a twenty-week marker has no grounding in medicine or law.

Current New Hampshire law recognizes the severe harm resulting from the death of a fetus and provides for an enhanced felony conviction in such cases. A person may be prosecuted for First Degree Assault if that person purposely or knowingly causes injury to another resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth—a class A Felony carrying a sentence of up to 15 years. People who commit violent crimes against pregnant women, especially crimes which result in miscarriage or stillbirth, should be punished and that punishment should recognize the severity of the harm and loss to women and their families. Representative Laura Pantelakos has submitted an amendment to SB 66 that would replace the bill with language that adds enhanced penalties to New Hampshire’s homicide statute. As such, Representative Pantelakos’ amendment would appropriately focus the law on the additional, often devastating injury suffered when a crime against a woman results in the loss of her pregnancy.

Leaders across New Hampshire are speaking out against SB 66 as passed by the Senate and as reported out of the House Criminal Justice Committee. Dalia Vidunas, Executive Director of the Equality Health, wrote in the Concord monitor: “SB 66 would become the first New Hampshire law to recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime. Such measures have been passed in other states to create a tension between women’s rights and fetal rights and provide a framework to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman’s right to choose.” Read the rest of Vidunas’ letter here.

Reverend Mary Westfall, Community Church of Durham, United Church of Christ wrote in the Portsmouth Herald: “We all agree that those who commit violent acts against pregnant women should be severely punished under the law. SB 66 is not the answer. Instead of providing recourse for tragic fetal loss, this bill is a slippery slope to eroding rights under Roe v. Wade. If the New Hampshire legislature wants to increase penalties for crimes against pregnant women it should do so without threatening women’s rights and in a manner consistent with existing law.” Read the rest of Westfall’s letter here.

Susan Arnold, Chair for the NH Reproductive Rights Advisory Council, wrote in Foster’s Daily Democrat: “SB 66, if passed, would recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time in New Hampshire law…In other states that have adopted personhood measures like SB 66, pregnant women have been subjected to surveillance, arrest, incarceration, and other deprivations of liberty for otherwise legal behavior that may or may not have harmed their fetuses. Justice for women? I think not. Read the rest of Arnold’s letter here.

Republicans Brings Shame On New Hampshire By Voting To Take ‘No Action’ On Rep Fisher Before He Resigns

How many Granite Staters feel right now

Once again the NH Republican Party has brought shame to our great state.  

Today, the NH Legislative Administrative Committee met to vote on whether any action would be taken against Rep Robert Fisher for his comments promoting rape and Rep Sherry Frost for her personal tweets that were deemed inappropriate due to her use of “foul” language.

“The actions by House Republicans on the Legislative Administration Committee today were an embarrassing abdication of our duties as Representatives,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff.

Republican Dick Hinch (Merrimack), chair of the committee, wanted to have one vote covering both Representatives implying that the tweets made by Rep Frost were somehow equal to the years of rape promotion by Rep Fisher.

“Decisions made by the majority today were clearly designed to provide cover for Representative Fisher and deny the ability to take any action against him. Dictating that the committee consider the actions of both Representatives Fisher and Frost in a single motion violates both legislative process and common sense, and violates the legislature’s right to discipline its members as it sees fit,” Shurtleff added.

“The NH GOP is sending a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Rep. Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny. There should have been no hesitation in calling out Fisher’s action and no hiding behind false equivalences.  The NH GOP didn’t want to hold Fisher accountable, so they chose instead to target a female legislator who speaks her mind. This is the same playbook that encourages rape culture in the first place – blame the woman,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress in a May 4th statement.

Just prior to the committee vote, Rep Tim Smith (D- Manchester) highlighted how Rep Fisher is still moderates the Red Pill Reddit under another alias.  Rep Fisher, under oath, denied having any continued involvement with the Red Pill Reddit, however the evidence provided indicates that he was lying under oath, a fact the Republican leadership did not seem to care about.

In his statement today, Rep Shurtleff announced the he personally would “ask the Attorney General to investigate the allegations that he still runs the Red Pill forum.”

Rep Smith also noted that the committee had received over 40,000 petitions to have Rep Fisher removed from office.

“Robert Fisher is a rape promoter who has no place serving in government,” explained Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet one of the advocacy groups behind the petition drive.“Comments like Fisher’s contribute directly to America’s rape epidemic by normalizing and excusing violence against women. Fisher’s promotion of this repulsive ideology puts women’s lives at risk and undermines trust in the New Hampshire state legislature to protect all citizens.”

The vote came out as expected, straight down party lines 8-6 to take no action on Rep Fisher or Rep Frosts.  The crowd was outraged, yelling “Shame, Shame.”

Democrats on the committee wanted to submit a minority report to all members of the House before the entire House votes as early as next week. Rep Hinch, rejected their request and ruled that no minority report would be accepted.

“The most egregious action by the Republican majority today was the denial of the minority to submit a report. How ironic that the majority recommendation of ‘no action’ was made under the guise of supporting free speech, while simultaneously denying the minority the long established tradition to formally oppose majority action by including a minority report,” Shurtleff added.

After the vote today, Rice-Hawkins said, “The NH GOP sent a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny. House Speaker Shawn Jasper, Republican Majority Leader Dick Hinch, and the entire Republican caucus of the Legislative Administration committee undermined the trust placed in them by constituents by putting party politics ahead of the women and children of our state and voting for no action to be taken on then-Rep. Fisher. There is absolutely no question this was about politics, since the Republicans required the motion on Fisher to be combined with a motion regarding actions of another elected official, leaving the committee with only the option to approve or condemn them both. It is hard to imagine a jury being ordered to issue a joint ruling on two different individuals charged with two very different offenses, but that is exactly the partisan game the NH House GOP played today. Furthermore, they refused to even allow a minority report.”

After the despicable action by the GOP voting to take no action, effectively justifying his rape comments, Rep Fisher officially resigned his position effective at noon today.

Prior to the committee session, members of UltraViolet, Granite State Progress and Action Together spoke out against Rep Fisher’s rape comments and once again called for his resignation.

“Action Together New Hampshire is pleased to learn Robert Fisher tendered his resignation following the executive session on his actions. While seeing Fisher out of a position of power was the outcome we were seeking, we are deeply disturbed by the extreme partisanship and blatant misogyny that this process exposed in the House,” said Action Together New Hampshire Executive Director Emily Morgan.  “Action Together New Hampshire remains committed to holding elected officials accountable regardless of party affiliation, and we expect honorable public servants to also hold their colleagues to a higher standard of behavior than Mr. Fisher demonstrated.”

“We are pleased that Rep. Fisher finally resigned, though we note his resignation only came after House Democrats threatened to take his statements under oath to the Attorney General for investigation. From start to finish, Robert Fisher has not been honest and transparent regarding his viewpoints that women are of a lesser class than their male counterparts,” Rice-Hawkins added.

“We welcome Robert Fisher’s resignation from the New Hampshire state legislature. Fisher’s repulsive ideology and cultivation of a pro-rape forum put women’s lives at risk–he directly contributed to America’s rape epidemic by normalizing and excusing violence against women.  It is deeply concerning that New Hampshire’s Legislative Administration Committee did not recognize what the rest of us did – that brand of dangerous misogyny simply has no place our government,” said Karin Roland, Chief Campaigns Officer of UltraViolet.

Ultimately the goal of removing Rep Fisher from the House was accomplished but not until after the committee brought shame our state by justifying his comments and actions by voting to take “no action.”

Activists Rally And Hold Press Conference Addressing Rep Robert Fisher’s Comments Promoting Rape

Rep. Debra Altschiller, members of UltraViolet, Action Together New Hampshire, and Granite State Progress take on rape promoter with joint rally and press conference

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Prior to the committee voting  to take “no action” on Rep Robert Fisher, members of UltraViolet, a national women’s advocacy organization, joined Action Together New Hampshire, Granite State Progress, and Rep. Debra Altschiller for a small rally, where participants appeared in costumes from the popular book and TV show A Handmaid’s Tale to address Rep. Robert Fisher’s online comments promoting rape. The group also held a press conference urging a New Hampshire State legislature committee to make an official recommendation that would expel Rep. Fisher from office. The full State House of Representatives will then vote on Fisher’s potential expulsion from the legislative body on June 1st.

The move to expel state representative Robert Fisher from the New Hampshire legislature came after a report last month from The Daily Beast, discovered that the two-term Republican was the creator of an online community dedicated to promoting violence against women. Fisher’s actions on the online forum included comments deriding women’s intelligence, and recommending ways for men to dodge rape accusations, as well as statements arguing that rape had specific benefits – especially for the rapist. Since the comments were discovered, Fisher has doubled down and publicly defended the idea that most women lie about rape and that men should put cameras in their bedrooms to protect themselves.

More than 42,000 members of UltraViolet have signed onto the petition calling on the New Hampshire State Legislature to discipline Fisher and expel him from office. State lawmakers and New Hampshire’s Governor have also called for Fisher to resign.

VIEW THE PETITION HERE: https://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/pro-rape_nh_legislator/

“Robert Fisher is a rape promoter who has no place serving in government,” explained Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet.“Comments like Fisher’s contribute directly to America’s rape epidemic by normalizing and excusing violence against women. Fisher’s promotion of this repulsive ideology puts women’s lives at risk and undermines trust in the New Hampshire state legislature to protect all citizens. We urge the Legislative Administration Committee to recommend that the House expel Fisher from their ranks – and demonstrate to all New Hampshire residents that misogyny will not be tolerated.”

“Trivializing this horrific crime or minimizing it through pseudo intellectual arguments does not deserve respect or celebration,” said Rep. Debra Altschiller. “Representative Fisher’s actions deserve condemnation, and we should not try to make them go away by patting ourselves on the back for having a hearing. We need to take clear and concise action that speaks to our state and to the nation whose eyes are upon us because of the shameful behavior of Representative Fisher.”

Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress said, “The actions of Rep. Fisher rise to an unprecedented situation in the House. There should be no statute of limitations in considering how his rape culture comments and the misogynistic forum he created are detrimental to women. There should be no looking the other way when a politician promotes the false narrative that rape victims are liars. And we know from new information that Rep. Fisher has not reformed, and that he has continued to participate in the Red Pill despite his claims otherwise.

Emily Morgan, Action Together New Hampshire said, “The women of New Hampshire are not safe with men like Representative Fisher making laws and it’s a disservice to all of New Hampshire that the leaders of his party are going out of their way to protect him”

After the press conference, the Legislation Administration Committee led by Republican Dick Hinch argued over whether or not any action should be taken against Rep Fisher.  Rep Hinch recommended “no action” and straight down party lines, in a vote of 8-6, the committee agreed that the committee would take no action against Rep Fisher.

After the vote, female members of the audience began to shout “shame” to those members who voted to condone Rep Fisher’s actions.

Video caught by David Meuse on Twitter.

UPDATE 2PM: Rep Fisher has resigned his position in the NH House. 

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