Five NH House Bills that Should Concern Smart Women and Men

Arise women!The New Hampshire House, armed with its share of Tea-Pots and Free Nutters has been loaded with some real backward bill proposals.  Some of the most disconcerting involve messing with the liberties and lives of women in particular.  We have chosen threefive of the most particularly disturbing to highlight here, the last, HB 168 is most probably going to effect women more than men but men could be negatively affected by it as well.

If you have additional information or updates, please send to progressiveactionnh@gmail.com and we’ll do our best to get them up.

According to many seasoned house reps this session has been particularly difficult to follow since it seemed there was a longer wait time for the text of bills to be published causing a huge rush immediately afterward of committee hearings.  Some of the bills outlined here may have already had hearings, we will try to update as soon as we learn the latest, but most will be put before the full house for consideration, so please don’t assume that the struggle is over if a bill comes out of committee.  Also, many of these bills are put up every session and we must remain dilligent and not assume that these fires will not start again.

Many of these bills reflect the frightening effort of certain right-wing groups often knowns as “MRA’s” or “Men’s Rights Association” groups that view feminism and women’s empowerment as a threat to their manhood.  They take an extremist and often very violent view toward women and feminism, repeatedly deny the presence of violence committed against women, promote the idea that the courts are out to get men and deny them “fatherhood rights”.

The rest of the bills reflect the continued efforts of religious extremist groups (often allied with men’s rights groups as well) to restrict women’s access to reproductive health services of any kind.  Usually the pleas about abortion are only a mask to cover up their agenda of completely alienating women from any services directed solely at their needs; i.e., birth control pills or STD treatments.  They see pregnancy and STD’s as the punishment for a woman’s engagement in sexual activity.  Birth control is seen merely as a means for women to have sex not just for reproduction but for pleasure.  This they wish to stop and they have no problem with the idea that women will suffer disproportionately more than men if there is poor access to reproductive care.

So while access to services to terminate a pregnancy are a large part of some of the bills proposed by them, don’t kid yourself; these people also want to have the “right” to harass, shame and belittle women who have the temerity to live their lives to the fullest and be healthy.

So let’s list these monstrosities of attempted legislative empowerment.  The text of these bills is linked onto the numerical title:

  • Next is HB 194, THIS BILL WAS KILLED BY A FULL HOUSE VOTE ON FEBRUARY  11TH.  TO SEE THE LIST OF THOSE WHO WANTED THIS BILL TO PASS PLEASE REFER TO OUR DETAILED UPDATES PAGE called the fetus personhood bill. A perennial favorite among the extremist anti-choicers.  This bill would effectively eliminate any ability of a women to obtain services to terminate a pregnancy after conception.  This means literally that doing such would precipitate murder charges.  Yes, that’s right, women going to prison along with care providers, for causing the termination of a pregnancy in anyway.  Its all about “the babies” with these people, even though science shows repeatedly, a baby isn’t fully a baby until at least the later terms of pregnancy and a baby doesn’t start to realize full humanhood until after birth.Some excellent information on HB 194 from Miscellany Blue as Tucker gets important quotes and analysis from the ground here in NH.These bills are premised on the mostly Catholic presumption that a human becomes a human immediately after fertilization of an egg takes place.  This view also is supported by conservative sectors of the Christianity, namely fundamentalist non-denominational and arch-conservative mainstream Protestants, such as the Southern Baptists.The fetus personhood bills basically support a religious notion of the law which threatens the very important separation of church and state in this country.  Science does not support the assumption that a fetus or a zygote is a complete person in the sense normally understood in our modern society.  A rational look at the process of conception and birth supports the assertion that life as a human does not begin until after the birth process and the infant enters into the world.  In fact, until modern healthcare it was customary for families to not name babies until about the third month of life being that so often infants died of multiple complications in those first three months.  But now, the extremist groups wish to not only pass over rational scientific knowledge and past tradition but also trample our constitutional right to not be ruled by one religious interpretation of reality.The legal ramifications of such a bill are huge as care providers from hospitals to clinics to individual doctors would face increased federal and state scrutiny to ensure that they do not engage in “murder” as according to the new law.  In addition and most dangerously, any miscarriage could be interpreted as a possible self-induced abortion and thus up for scrutiny by courts, arrest for murder and long, drawn-out legal defenses at the cost of the state.  The overloading of courts and the increased over reach of the state into women’s lives can only be imagined.  The potential for placing mothers in jail or even prison, breaking up families and putting existing children in foster care, causing lifelong trauma cannot even be properly gauged or imagined either.  Needless to say, the possible ramifications of this bill are huge and should be taken seriously.These bills also could potentially affect stem-cell research as some religious groups wish to go so far as to claim an unfertilized egg should be deemed a person as well.

    Its very clear that the anti-choice folks only care about their religious interpretation of the process of human reproduction, women, children and the destruction of our freedom from religious rule be damned.  This bill must be stopped immediately!

    While not directly related to HB 194, we encourage folks who question the hyperbole and lies used to attack women’s reproductive services to check out this post on Miscellany Blue from January 15th.  A Republican representative from Rochester, Mr. Groen, goes on a nuclear screed about Planned Parenthood “cutting babies to pieces” as his rationale for proposing planned parenthood be completely defunded.  Of course this is a complete lie, but these people don’t care about the truth, all they care about is controlling women’s lives and putting women back into to the old days.  The old days, when a woman’s life and future was held hostage by reproductive system.  The days when a man could basically stop a woman’s future cold in its tracks by raping her and thus forcing her into pregnancy and twenty years of captivity to raising a child.

Some good summaries on fetus personhood:

Rationalwiki: Personhood Laws
Alternet: Fetus Personhood is the Religious Right’s New Dangerous Word Trap in the Abortion Debate

Bill Status: Currently before the House Judiciary Committee

UPDATE:  News has come in that the House Judiciary Committee ruled, by a bi-partisan vote, that the bill be deemed ITL (Inexpedient To Legislate).  This is not the end of the bill itself as it will come to the full house floor for a vote on Wednesday, February     Get the word out! If you can come to the house session please do! The presence of citizens counts to let legislators know that if they  cannot get away with voting against the rights of women, against the preservation of our right to not be ruled by religious dogma and against rational scientific reason! We will be watching! We will hold them accountable!

    • HB 560 a bill that will move to make fetus a person “for certain criminal offenses”.  While this seems benign enough, the fact is that this is just a slow move toward the real goal of completely restricting a woman’s right to choose by making a fetus — a clump of cells, a legal “person”.  This is dangerous territory where women could be imprisoned for murder for so much as even a miscarriage.  Don’t think this can happen? Ask women in other countries or even here in the old US of A, oh wait, there’s more stories from the US!  In fact, there’s so much going on all over the country to pull back even a woman’s basic right to have the normal bodily function of a miscarriage or to even have a normal teen age life or opportunity as an adult, that one becomes overwhelmed by the responses in a search under “fetus personhood and criminal cases”, or any other related search.

This bill isn’t about concern about prosecuting people who “kill” and “unborn child”  in a crime, its about making a law that recognizes a fetus — again — scientifically a clump of cells, therefore, recognizing a religious interpretation of life as law.  Its about punishing women, its about forcing women to carry a pregnancy to term, no matter what circumstance (or even to have to have a judge determine your circumstance is proper overrules one’s rights) might have caused the pregnancy, no matter what age the woman, even if she is a child herself.

This bill must die its own death for lack of viability, long before its allowed to grow and develop into the ugly personage of hatred and religious superstition and misogyny that it is.

This bill is presently in the House Justice and Public Safety Committee

    • HB 403, a bill that will remove the buffer zones that keep protesters and agitators a safe distance from patients going into a women’s reproductive health facility.  The logic behind this bill is that since the Massachusetts Supreme Court struck down the buffer zone law there, New Hampshire might as well get on the band wagon and outlaw the buffer zones here too. After all, concern for court costs and all that.

So they say.  What they don’t say is that the anti-choice crowd can’t stand having to stand further away from women who go into reproductive care facilities.  What they don’t say is that holding up obnoxious, offensive and outright misleading signage and shouting at women going into or leaving clinics and praying out loud like the Pharisees Jesus warned us all about isn’t enough.  They want to be able to get right into the faces of women; they want the chance to snarl at them, hand them deceptive and outright incorrect scare literature, gaze coldly into their eyes and guilt them all the way into the clinic.  Because nothing empowers better than a little hatred and guilt toward someone when they are at their most vulnerable now does it?

Let the courts decide and until that time, let the woman alone we say. If they are so concerned about the costs of a lengthy legal battle they are free to accept the existing buffer zones and leave the rest to their God to decide.

This bill is in the House Judiciary Committee.

    • HB 168 this bill would “permit no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences only if the parties do not have minor children.”

This bill would effectively undo the ability of people to get themselves out of a destructive or painful marriage.  In California in 1969 then Governor Ronald Reagan signed the first in the nation no-fault divorce bill ushering in a new era of freedom for couples who wanted to release themselves from the bonds of marriage.  Shortly after through the years the rest of the states in the nation followed through in one way or another.

Prior to the development of no-fault, or uncontested divorce, parties had to come before a judge to prove why the marriage bond should be dissolved.  Usually, as reported in links provided, this required that one or both parties present to the judge evidence showing instances of adultery or other failure to live up to expectations in the marriage contract.  Most usually this type of proof requirement bode very badly for women who traditionally had little to no economic means to hire an attorney and fight the accusations leveled against her.  Knowing this many men, most often as the breadwinner in the family, could use the threat of divorce and personal destruction through the courts as a means to keep a woman locked into marriage against her best interests.

As an article in the Washington Post reports, no-fault divorce has largely been a success, freeing women and men from the chains of having to pour their personal lives in front of a judge.  In particular, this has been freeing for women who prior could be locked against their will into a destructive and often even abusive marriage because of a lack of economic resources to get out.

As the Post reports, “No-fault divorce has been a success. A 2003 Stanford University study detailed the benefits in states that had legalized such divorces: Domestic violence dropped by a third in just 10 years, the number of husbands convicted of murdering their wives fell by 10 percent, and the number of women committing suicide declined between 11 and 19 percent. A recent report from Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress found that only 28 percent of divorced women said they wished they’d stayed married.”

Statistically also, proof has provided over and over again that children suffer more emotional damage that carries into their adulthood from long-term exposure to love-less and abusive marriages then from the act of divorce itself.  In addition, the requirement of going to court for a divorce in the same manner as a full-blown civil trial causes harm as well by fostering and enabling a grounds for a long painful and combative divorce proceeding which also can cause children irreparable harm.

We encourage everyone to take this bill seriously and to call all members of the House Children and Family Law committee to let them know this cannot be allowed to pass.

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