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NH Legislature Rejects Abortion Ban and Preserves Buffer Zone Law

PPNHAF volunteers gather for a rally before the vote on HB 578 and HB 589

Bipartisan tradition of respecting women’s health and privacy upheld in the Granite State

(Concord, NH) – Earlier today the NH House acted on the repeal of the NH Buffer Zone and a ban on abortion,  HB 589 and HB 578 respectively. These bills were the first legislative proposals to come before House members this biennium which would impact the landscape for accessing reproductive health in the Granite State.  Planned Parenthood opposed both measures. Neither bill will move forward to the NH Senate.

Quote from Kayla Montgomery, Director of Advocacy and Organizing, Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund:

Today, the New Hampshire House rejected two measures that would have restricted or compromised the ability of women to access personal and private reproductive health care. The majority of NH House Representatives listened to their constituents, including the thousands of Planned Parenthood supporters who lobbied against these measures. These bipartisan votes continue the Granite State’s strong tradition of respecting women and doctors, not politicians, to make personal, private decisions about pregnancy and childbearing.”

Yesterday nearly a hundred supporters from around the state came to Concord to talk to their state reps about these bills, and what Planned Parenthood means to them.

HB 578-FN: relative to banning abortion after viability. This bill, both in its original form and as amended by the Judiciary Committee, restricted the right of New Hampshire women to make private medical decisions later in pregnancy. It is part of a larger strategy by the bill’s proponents to chip away at abortion rights through multiple restrictions. The Committee amendment, titled the “Viable Fetus Protection Act” replaced the original bill and would have introduced new limitations to abortion access in state law without protecting longstanding rights.  The amendment failed on a vote of 189 – 170, and the bill was then tabled. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade held that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of liberty protects a woman’s decision to have an abortion, limits government involvement with private medical decisions prior to fetal viability, and enables states to restrict post-viability abortions with exceptions to protect the health and life of the pregnant woman.  Support for Roe v. Wade and for access to safe, legal abortion is stronger in New Hampshire than any state in the nation.

State Representatives from across the state watch ‘Across the Line’ – a virtual reality film which puts viewers in the shoes of a patient entering a health center for a safe and legal abortion and demonstrates why buffer zones are important.

Supporters also joined State Representatives for a lunch gathering to discuss these bills and view a showing of “Across the Line” which is seven minute virtual reality experience which puts viewers in the shoes of a patient entering a health center for a safe and legal abortion

“New Hampshire’s Buffer Zone law, enacted in 2014, was carefully tailored to strike a balance between public safety, free speech, and privacy rights. Planned Parenthood is committed to protecting the privacy and safety of our patients, while respecting first amendment rights. No woman should face intimidation, physical obstruction or fear of harm while seeking to access confidential medical care,” added Montgomery. 

HB 589-FN: repealing the law governing access to reproductive health care facilities. This bill would have repealed the Buffer Zone law which was passed in 2014. Planned Parenthood argued that health centers need the flexibility to implement Buffer Zones when the privacy and safety of patients is at risk. Undoing this law would be a step backwards and removes an important tool from the toolkit. The House Judiciary committee recommended a bipartisan report of ITL on this bill and the House voted to uphold the committee report by a margin of 191-165.

Granite State Republicans Continue To Vow Support Trump Even Though It Will Cost Them The Election

Donald Trump (Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Donald Trump (Image by Gage Skidmore CC FLIKR)

Republicans worst nightmare has come true. Donald Trump has won their nomination for President.

Former New Hampshire Republican leaders have been warning that a Trump led ticket would be disaster for Republicans all the way down the ticket.

“Here in New Hampshire, if Donald Trump is the nominee, we will not get a Republican governor. We will lose the New Hampshire state Senate, and we could lose the New Hampshire state House… and we could lose Sen. [Kelly] Ayotte.”
Former GOP Gov. John H Sununu

“I think they’re very concerned if they’re up for reelection . . . Clearly Trump at this time is not going to carry swing states. I’m thinking of New Hampshire, for example.”
Former New Hampshire Republican Senator Judd Gregg

“If Donald Trump is the nominee, Kelly Ayotte might as well resign because it’s all over.”
Former NHGOP Chair Fergus Cullen

Even with strong warnings from former party leaders, Republican candidates are still refusing to reject Trump and his racist, fascist, misogynistic rhetoric.

Senator Kelly Ayotte says she will support Trump’s nomination by voting for him but will not endorse him. Pledging to vote for him is in the eyes of everyday voters, the same as endorsing him.

Aaron Jacobs, Communications Director from Maggie for NH blasted Ayotte in a recent statement for her vowing to vote in support of Trump.

“While Kelly Ayotte just today made her support for Donald Trump official, they’ve long been in agreement when it comes to critical issues such as their desire to defund Planned Parenthood, undermine Roe v. Wade, and obstruct the Supreme Court confirmation process. And all Granite Staters should be concerned that Ayotte has announced her support for Trump despite national security experts and members of both parties have condemned his foreign policy positions as dangerous to our country’s vital interests. The people of New Hampshire will soundly reject the Trump-Ayotte ticket in November.”

Women’s health and equal pay are on the forefront of the minds of many women voters in the Granite State. Both Ayotte and Trump oppose equal pay for women and want to nominate a Supreme Court Justice to overturn the forty-year decision of Roe v. Wade.


Image from EMILY’s List


Image from EMILY’s List

National women’s rights advocacy group EMILY’s List has routinely highlighted the connections between Trump and Ayotte.

“Kelly Ayotte stepped even further away from New Hampshire women and families today with her confirmed support for Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. She chose her extreme party over the women she was elected to represent by pledging to support a nominee who has called women ‘fat pigs’ and ‘slobs’ and who spews hateful rhetoric every chance he gets,” said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock.

“Although really, it should come as no surprise to anyone that she’s lining up behind Donald Trump — they both share a radical agenda of wanting to defund Planned Parenthood, opposing meaningful efforts to end gender discrimination in pay, and wanting to take away women’s rights to make their own health care decisions. If New Hampshire women can’t even count on Kelly Ayotte to stand up to Donald Trump, they definitely can’t count on her to stand up for them in the Senate,” added Schriock.

It is not just Ayotte who is vowing to support Trump. Congressman Frank Guinta and Rich Ashooh, who are both vying for the GOP nomination in NH’s 1st Congressional District, have also said they will support the Republican nominee, even if it is Trump.

Ashooh recently told NH1 last month that he wouldn’t commit until Trump had the nomination. With Ted Cruz and John Kasish leaving the race, Ashooh is left with little choice.

Guinta told NHPR in March that he will support the eventual nominee. Carol Shea-Porter, candidate for Congress in New Hampshire’s 1st District, has already called on Frank Guinta to denounce Trump’s deeply offensive statements.

Shea-Porter additionally called on Guinta to return a personal contribution Trump made to Guinta’s re-election campaign earlier last year. Frank Guinta refused to comment to WMUR on whether he’d return the contribution.

“Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee, Rich Ashooh and Frank Guinta need to admit to Granite State voters that they pledged to blindly support their nominee, including Donald Trump and his ignorant and dangerous views. We already know where Frank Guinta’s loyalties lie, as he refused to condemn Donald Trump for his hateful and divisive remarks, and he has also refused to return the campaign money he took from Trump earlier last year,” said Shea-Porter. “Rich Ashooh and Frank Guinta have already said that they will commit to supporting the eventual nominee, so now Granite Staters will see whether Ashooh and Guinta will follow through on their promise to Republican voters.”

Trump Sununu Campaign SignTrump’s Presidential campaign is already having an impact on the NH Gubernatorial election.

Last month, Democrats led by New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley unveiled a new campaign sign for the Trump/Sununu ticket, highlighting their shared far-right policies of defunding Planned Parenthood, opposing Medicaid expansion and denying climate change.

“The fact is that Donald Trump’s out of touch views are shared by Chris Sununu and the whole Republican gubernatorial field,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “Some Republicans are lining up to denounce Trump because they know how devastating his selection would be for down ballot Republicans. But not Chris Sununu, who said he’ll absolutely support whoever the Republican nominee is, even if it is Trump. I guess we’re not surprised since their policies line up so well.”

With Trump at the top of the ticket this means disaster for the GOP all the way down the ticket. This means that we, as Democrats, have a strong chance of retaining the Governor’s seat and taking back the state House and Senate.

“The Republican party has spoken and chosen the dangerous and offensive Donald Trump to carry their banner into the general election; unfortunately for New Hampshire Republicans, the general electorate won’t make the same mistake,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. “That’s why Republican leaders in the Granite State have been warning against his candidacy for months. They know that Trump as their party’s nominee means disaster for Kelly Ayotte, Chris Sununu, Ted Gatsas, Jeanie Forrester, Frank Guinta, and the rest of the New Hampshire Republican ticket who have refused to condemn Trump and his destructive policies.”

Planned Parenthood Votes Releases Scathing New Ad Targeting Kelly Ayotte

Kelly Ayotte PPNNE AD“Enough is enough. Kelly Ayotte’s bad politics could have repercussions for a lifetime.” 

Washington, DC — Planned Parenthood Votes has gone on-air with its first ad buy of the 2016 Senatorial election cycle — a nearly $400,000 TV ad buy hitting New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte on her abysmal record on women’s health, and her obstruction of the Supreme Court nomination process.


The ad, “Lifetime,” focuses on Kelly Ayotte’s long-time opposition to reproductive health, in particular her previous assertion that the right to safe, legal abortion should be overturned, and that it should be done via the Supreme Court. The ad is paid for by Planned Parenthood Votes, a national independent expenditure political committee. Though Planned Parenthood Votes has previously gone on-air in the 2016 presidential election, this is the committee’s first time going on air for a senate race in the 2016 cycle. It will be running on broadcast and cable in New Hampshire. 

Kelly Ayotte is one of the key Senators preemptively calling to block the president’s Supreme Court nominee before ever holding a hearing. While she has met with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, Kelly Ayotte is still refusing to do her job and give the president’s nominee a fair hearing with an up-or-down vote. The American people deserve a full court and a justice appointed by the president they elected for four years — not three—and Kelly Ayotte’s extreme position abdicating her constitutional duty in order to obstruct the creation of a fully functional branch of our government is unconscionable.

Kelly Ayotte has voted repeatedly to “defund” Planned Parenthood, and has even voted against equal pay legislation. This Senator has spent years calling for an end to safe, legal abortion and for Roe v. Wade to be overturned, and even went so far as to circulate a letter urging support for a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks that included extreme provisions for rape survivors. Furthermore, Kelly Ayotte won’t protect access to birth control coverage, and proposed a plan that would make more women pay for birth control by undermining the health law that gave nearly 300,000 New Hampshire women access to no-copay birth control.

Statement from Deirdre Schifeling, Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood Votes:

“Kelly Ayotte may try to paint herself as pro-woman, but her record tells a very different story. Every chance she’s gotten she’s voted to ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood and cut women off from essential health care like birth control and breast and cervical cancer screenings. She has been advocating for years to ban women’s access to safe, legal abortion, and it’s clear she now sees her chance in the Supreme Court process. Kelly Ayotte is refusing to do her job, and abdicating her constitutional duty, in order to push an extreme agenda that no one in New Hampshire wants. Enough is enough. Kelly Ayotte’s bad politics could have repercussions for a lifetime.”

Statement from Jennifer Frizzell, Vice President, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund:

“Kelly Ayotte continues to advance an extreme agenda which would deprive New Hampshire women of critical reproductive health services in direct contrast to the wishes of the citizens of New Hampshire who demonstrate strong bipartisan support for access to safe, legal abortion and for access to Planned Parenthood health services. Ayotte’s latest obstruction in refusing to even consider the President’s Supreme Court nominee will have real life consequences for New Hampshire women and could jeopardize access to safe and legal abortion for women across this country for generations to come.”

Kelly Ayotte is facing a contentious race to keep her Senate seat this fall, which is understandable considering her record in New Hampshire includes voting to make college more expensive and voting to repeal health coverage for nearly 50,000 Granite Staters.

According to the polls, Ayotte’s dismal record of voting consistently to “defund” Planned Parenthood will have an even more negative impact on her already at-risk Senate race. 

A survey conducted in 2015 by Hart Research shows that voters in the battleground state of New Hampshire strongly support Planned Parenthood, and oppose Ayotte’s position to “defund” the organization — blocking patients who rely on federal funding from accessing preventive health services, including the cancer screenings and family planning services like birth control that Planned Parenthood provides to millions of women in communities across the country.

Key findings from the survey includes:

  • 66 percent of New Hampshire voters oppose blocking patients from accessing Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services, including 72 percent of Independents.
  • 75 percent of voter polled in New Hampshire, including majorities of Republican voters, have an unfavorable reaction to the idea of shutting down the federal government to block any funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • By a two to one margin, voters in battleground states including New Hampshire are less likely to vote to re-elect their senators if they vote to block patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood.

Fourteen separate national polls conducted since last June show strong support for Planned Parenthood and extraordinarily strong opposition to blocking patients from care.

#TBT: That Time Kelly Ayotte Said Roe v. Wade “Certainly…Should Be Overturned”

Concord, N.H. – As we mark the 43rd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision protecting a woman’s right to make her own health decisions this week, the New Hampshire Democratic Party is throwing it back to that time Kelly Ayotte said: “I certainly think that Roe should be overturned. 

Back in the summer of 2010, Kelly Ayotte told voters that she opposed the Roe v. Wade decision – and unfortunately, she’s voted like it ever since. 

In addition to voting six times to defund Planned Parenthood, Ayotte has voted to eliminate all funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, which helps fund 4,200 Family Planning Centers that serve 4.5 million individuals across the country.

Ayotte was also an original co-sponsor and voted for the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed employees to deny women coverage for birth control and other important preventive health services. And she praised the misguided Hobby Lobby decision to deny some women coverage for birth control. 

And Ayotte is still fighting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which stopped women from being discriminated against and charged more for care. The ACA has helped more than 150,000 New Hampshire women receive expanded preventative services without cost-sharing, including contraception. 

“The facts are clear: while Kelly Ayotte always looks out for her special interest backers like the Koch Brothers, she doesn’t look out for New Hampshire women,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Melissa Miller. 

On 43rd Anniversary Of Roe v. Wade, NH Health Providers Push Back On War On Women’s Health

Women Protesting Roe vs Wade

NH’s Women’s Health Providers and Advocates Push Back
Against Assault on Women’s Health in 2016
Sixteen Separate Bills Form Broad Agenda to Ban Abortion

Concord, NH — Women’s health providers, patients and advocates from across the state gathered in Concord this afternoon to sound an alarm about the unprecedented number of attacks on women’s health introduced in the 2016 legislative session. “As women’s health providers and advocates for reproductive health and freedom we are united to defeat this broad agenda to ban abortion and eliminate reproductive care,” stated Jennifer Frizzell of Planned Parenthood, on behalf of the group of allies.

This week marks the 43rd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Extreme anti-women’s health lawmakers are using the occasion to kick off public hearings for a package of legislation that would make the constitutional protections of Roe meaningless for New Hampshire women and families.

“For more than forty years, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that under Roe v. Wade, the constitution protects every woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions about abortion. Yet some politicians in New Hampshire have made it clear with this year’s legislative agenda that they will stop at nothing to end access to safe, legal abortion,” said Devon Chafee Executive Director of the ACLU of NH.

This agenda is at odds with recent polls that show support for access to safe, legal abortion is higher in New Hampshire than any other state in the country and that more Republicans here consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life on issues like abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood.

Despite the views and values of their constituents, a handful of extreme Republicans continue their assault on women’s health care. They have introduced a legislative package consisting of 16 bills that aim at dismantling women’s preventive care and ending access to safe, legal abortion.

 “Planned Parenthood of Northern New England will not back down from these ruthless political attacks. The extremist legislators forcing this agenda are putting women’s lives and health in danger. The stakes for women’s health and rights are higher than ever this year.  These restrictions are part of a broader national agenda to end access to safe, legal abortion. And this is not what the people of New Hampshire want from their elected officials,” stated Jennifer Frizzell, VP for Public Policy at the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.  “At Planned Parenthood, we will stand up to this dangerous legislation on behalf of the women, men and young people whose health and well-being is at stake and we will not shut our doors,” continued Frizzell.

According to new data from Guttmacher, politicians across the country have enacted 288 restrictions on safe, legal abortion at the state level since the 2010 midterm elections–despite the public’s overwhelming support for women’s access to safe, legal abortion. In New Hampshire, a group of extreme politicians have introduced a devastating legislative package consisting of 16 bills that aim at dismantling women’s health.

New Hampshire has a strong tradition of respecting women and doctors, not politicians, to make personal, private decisions about pregnancy and childbearing. Additionally, the Granite State currently has some of the best public health outcomes in the country for women, including the lowest teen pregnancy rate, and the best perinatal and maternal health outcomes. The anti-women’s health legislation introduced in 2016 would jeopardize care for New Hampshire women and reduce access for New Hampshire communities.

“Having access to the tools necessary to support choices around childbearing reduces unintended pregnancies, helps women space their childbearing, and leads to healthier babies and women.  By taking those services away, New Hampshire legislators would be creating substantial risk that women will face the serious mental and physical health risks of being forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, or resort to unsafe abortions,” stated Katie Robert, President of the NH Public Health Association.

“On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, providers like the Concord Feminist Health Center are speaking out against politicians who would take us backwards and make it impossible to get safe and legal abortion. We simply can’t let that happen in New Hampshire,” concluded Dalia Vidunas, Executive Director.

Polls consistently show that the majority of Americans support access to safe and legal abortion and Planned Parenthood health centers. Since July, there have been 14 national polls measuring support for Planned Parenthood–and every single one of them show strong support for Planned Parenthood and access to reproductive health care. A recent Bloomberg Politics national poll found that 67 percent of Americans surveyed said the Supreme Court was right to rule that women have a constitutional right to abortion and agree with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. A VOX/PerryUndem poll found that more Americans now consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life. Sixty-eight percent of Millennials don’t want to see Roe overturned, and 72 percent of Republicans think abortion should be available.

The landmark Roe v Wade decision issued on January 22, 1973.

(Featured image is from today in history)

Guest Editorial — Susan Bruce: Big Daddy Hobby Lobby Knows Best

Susan Bruce

By Susan Bruce

I was 18 in 1974, the year that Roe v. Wade was enacted. I was pregnant. My doctor sat me down to explain my options to me. All of them. She was very thorough. I decided I was having a baby. She thought I was nuts. There I was, a high school dropout with a substance abuse problem, no money, no skills, and no family support, deciding to have a baby.

Did you notice the key word in that last sentence? I DECIDED. It was my CHOICE.

That has made all the difference. I was not forced to be an involuntary incubator. It was my body. It was my choice.

It’s been painful to watch most of women’s hard won freedoms begin to erode. None has been more painful than the renewal of the war on choice. It’s pretty simple. Either we are equal human beings who have a right to medical privacy and bodily autonomy or we are not.

The Hobby Lobby decision puts employers between women and their doctors. That they imagine that they have some right to be in that position is hubris on steroids. If they were refusing to pay for insurance coverage for Viagra, penis pumps, or penile implants, you’d see what real hysteria looks like. That, of course, would never happen, because it is only women whose bodies are up for discussion and debate. Men own us from a distance, as they rule our ovaries from state houses and Congress. They won’t overturn Roe v. Wade. That would lead to national outrage and action. Instead, they’ll continue to make it increasingly difficult to access abortions state by state.

During my sophomore year in high school, one of my friends got pregnant. She wasn’t from an affluent family. She was from a rare (in the early 70’s) single parent family, and there wasn’t money to send her off for an illegal abortion or even to stay with an “aunt” for six months. She was stuck being pregnant in high school at a time where that just didn’t happen. People were so awful to her. She was so brave. She stuck it out. She put the baby up for adoption, and came back to school and toughed it out. I didn’t have the understanding or the vocabulary back then to tell her how brave she was.

She didn’t have a choice. Poor women never do.

Hobby Lobby is not a church. It’s a craft store. It’s a for-profit enterprise, one that employs people from all over the country. Unless they discriminate as employers and hire only like-minded religious folk, then they hire people of many faiths, from many backgrounds. For them to claim some sort of religious privilege here is offensive. They’re telling their female employees (in the most paternalistic way possible) that they will happily make money from their labor, but they will not trust those same female employees to make their own medical decisions. “We’ll let you help build our empire, girls, but step away from that IUD. Big Daddy Hobby Lobby knows best.”

Of course now, they don’t need to discriminate when they hire. Their health plan does it for them.

The clock is spinning back to the days of back alley abortions, of women trying to abort themselves with knitting needles and coat hangers. I did not expect to see this happen in my lifetime. I thought we’d won this fight. It’s clear that it’s going to have to be fought all over again.

Constant vigilance is the price we pay for any gains made by women.

Susan Bruce is a local progressive advocate in New Hampshire.  She writes a bi-weekly column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper in N. Conway, NH and blogs at “Susan The Bruce.” She is a producer and co-hosts a local radio program “The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen.”  You can follow her on twitter at @SusanThe 

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