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Exec Council Approves $50 Million for Sununu’s Housing Fund

The Executive Council approved the first $50 million in funding for Gov. Chris Sununu’s InvestNH Housing Fund, an ambitious plan to deal with the Granite State’s housing crisis. 

“This initial $50 million investment will create 1,500 new rental units across the state, helping increase supply, drive down costs, and ensure New Hampshire is the best state to live, work, and raise a family,” Sununu said.

InvestNH is a $100 million investment plan to boost housing construction by covering the gaps in hard construction costs on affordable multi-family developments.

The plan uses money from the state’s portion of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act. The fund will eventually direct $60 million toward developers, with $10 million going to the New Hampshire Housing Authority, and another $10 million earmarked for non-profit and small-scale for-profit developers. The remaining $40 million is going to municipalities to help streamline the zoning and planning process to get the projects built. There is also money that municipalities can use to demolish old structures and update zoning ordinances to meet current needs.

This first $50 million will be used for housing projects which will be held to affordability restrictions and construction completion deadlines within 18 months.

Both Sununu and his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Tom Sherman agree the current crisis in affordable housing availability is putting the state’s economic growth in danger. There are tens of thousands of high-paying jobs available in New Hampshire, but not enough potential workers can find places to live.

Sherman has released his own housing plan, which he said builds on Sununu’s $100 million investment.

While the council approved the housing funds, it stalled funding for a decade-old sex education plan a fourth time. No member of the council moved to vote on the $682,000 contract, leaving it in limbo.

The program is aimed at reducing teen pregnancy in Sullivan County and the city of Manchester, pockets of the state with the highest rates.

Republican councilors Joe Kenney, David Wheeler, and Ted Gatsas all previously supported the same program, but now cite concerns about parental rights when arguing against the contract. While parents must give permission for their children to participate in the program, details about what the curriculum exactly teaches are not available to the public.

Liz Canada, Advocacy Manager for PPNNE/Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, blasted the move, saying it puts women and children in harm’s way. The council has previously voted to defund family planning contracts with clinics that also perform abortions.

“By gutting the family planning program and rejecting routine funding for after-school sex education, the Executive Council has jeopardized New Hampshire’s capacity to reduce rates of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in our state at a time when the landscape of reproductive health care nationwide is in chaos because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Canada said. “Now is not the time to risk the ability of trusted community organizations to deliver what could be life-saving information and support.”

UNH Celebrates ‘Sextober,’ Silences Pro-Life Students

University of New Hampshire students are getting a crash course in all things sex this month, from vulva appreciation seminars, instructions on how to come out with an LGBTQI+ identity, sexual device giveaways, to classes on yoga to increase pleasure.

But it suppresses information about nearby pregnancy crisis centers where women can turn for help if needed.

While intense Sextober festivities, put on by the state school’s Health & Wellness Center, focus on teaching college students how to enjoy having sex, it does not include any basic information on how to handle the natural result.

“It’s not really giving people resources if you’re only telling them about safe sex,” said Katelyn Regan, the head of the UNH Students for Life chapter.

The Sextober schedule includes multiple talks and programs aimed at dealing with abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning Roe v Wade. The free classes include instructions on how to obtain abortions and contraceptive services. What is not mentioned is what, if any, support UNH offers to women if they choose to keep their babies, Regan said.

“It can be very frustrating,” Regan said. “They are ignoring that pregnancy only comes from sex.”

The pro-life message generally gets short shrift on campus, according to Regan. The Health & Wellness Department will make referrals to the nearby abortion clinic for students seeking the procedure, but it does not refer pregnant women to the pro-life pregnancy center, which is closer to campus, she said.

In a podcast interview with NHJournal, Regan revealed that the Health and Wellness Center won’t allow students to even post information about crisis pregnancy centers on the same bulletin board covered with material from Planned Parenthood.

“Health and Wellness has refused to let us put up any kind of life-affirming resource materials,” Regan said. “They have a brochure wall, and half of those brochures have a lovely little Planned Parenthood stamp on the bottom of them. They won’t let us.”

 

 

The school, in general, offers little support and few services for pregnant students, leaving women with a terrible choice, she said.

“It’s not fair for women to have to choose between having an abortion and continuing their education here,” Regan said. “Right now, there is no support.”

There is hope for change on that front. Regan is working with the college administration to change school policies and make the campus more welcoming for pregnant women who want to continue their studies.

Erika Mantz, UNH’s executive director of media relations, said in an email that pregnant students, and students who are mothers of infants, can request “academic accommodations, extensions on assignments, flexible attendance plans, being able to stand rather than sit or sit rather than stand in classes or labs as needed, getting larger workspaces, addressing graduate student funding and benefits concerns as applicable, unrestricted bathroom breaks, etc.”

“Students can request accommodations through the Civil Rights and Equity Office at UNH,” Mantz said.

The college does not make special housing for women with infants available but instead allows those women and their infants to live on campus subject to the same housing plans as other students, according to Matz. The university has one childcare center available, but Mantz said space is limited. 

“Childcare is not guaranteed as there is only one childcare center on the Durham campus. Infant spots are limited, and unless planned in advance, there is often a waiting list,” Mantz said.

The school does offer space for mothers to nurse their infants or express milk, she said. 

The university requires all full-time students to have health insurance. And the plan offered through UNH does include coverage for pregnancy, according to Mantz. 

The university Student Health Benefit Plan also provides this pregnancy coverage and parents/families can add their children to this plan,” Mantz said.

As for the Students for Life organization, Regan said she and her fellow pro-lifers are subject to regular harassment and threats of violence when they advocate for life on campus.

“We have had the police called on us a bunch of times,” Regan said.

Setting up a table with literature on campus can be tricky, she said. They are subject to protesters, some of whom get in their faces to shout and scream at them.

“Unfortunately, this is something that happens to us a lot,” Regan said.

The group was even subject to a bomb threat made on a social media app this year, she said.

Last year, one of Regan’s friends was followed from the Students for Life table and nearly assaulted by other students angry about the pro-life message. Regan said police did respond to that call, but they were initially sent to investigate the Students for Life during that incident.

Despite the threat being caught on the school’s surveillance cameras, no one was charged, Regan said.

Students for Life members are careful to have all the necessary campus permits whenever they set up a table or hold an event, she said. The group also now has a solid working relationship with the campus police.

“It is our right for free speech to be there as long as we’re not trespassing,” she said. “Campus police have actually been really great.”

Woodburn, Convicted of Assaulting Girlfriend, to Represent Himself In Appeal

Former Democratic leader Jeffrey Woodburn, convicted of physically abusing his ex-fiancée, will represent himself next week as he seeks to reverse his case at a hearing before the state Supreme Court. 

The hearing is set for Tuesday morning. Woodburn is expected to argue he was denied a fair trial because he could not accuse the victim of abuse for trying to take his phone.

Woodburn (D-Whitefield) was the Democrat’s Senate Minority Leader when he was charged in 2018 with nine counts of assaulting his former fiancée. Though he initially resigned as leader, Woodburn clung to his Senate seat for months and members of the Coos County Democratic Committee initially refused to ask him to step down.

The appeal stems from Coos Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein’s ruling that Woodburn could not argue self-defense during the trial. Woodburn was originally charged with nine counts stemming from more than a year of abuse he reportedly directed at the victim.

The convictions are based on Woodburn’s violent actions related to three separate incidents, according to court records. The victim went on the record telling Bornstein that at one point during her many struggles with Woodburn she tried to grab his phone without permission. Bornstein stated in court the attempted grab did not rise to the level of behavior that allows for Woodburn’s self-defense claims.

In the lead-up to the trial, Woodburn leaked the name of the victim to the media by having his attorney, Donna Brown, send unredacted copies of sealed court records to members of the press.

“His lawyer proactively sent copies of unsealed documents to the media,” the alleged victim’s attorney—and former Hillsborough County prosecutor— Patricia LaFrance told NHJournal at the time. “I’ve never seen that in my 16 years as a prosecutor”

Woodburn was sentenced to two years in jail with all but 60 days suspended. He has been out on bail pending his appeal.

New Hampshire Democrats now have the specter of Woodburn’s domestic violence haunting them again a few weeks before the midterm elections. Representatives for the state Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Woodburn’s case came at a particularly problematic time for New Hampshire Democrats, during the hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen both opposed the Trump nominee and used unfounded — and in some cases, ludicrous — allegations of sexual assault from Kavanaugh’s high school and college days as a reason to reject him. They were unwilling, however, to publicly criticize Woodburn until months after he was charged with a crime.

Woodburn won the Democratic nomination in 2018 but lost the general election.

The most egregious blow to the victim, critics say, came when a Woodburn paramour who smeared the victim as a “liar” and “sociopath” was given a leadership award by the Manchester Democrats organization.

National GOP Group Backing NH State House Women

Women in New Hampshire’s GOP are getting a boost from the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national organization throwing its support behind women candidates in State House races up and down the ballot. 

“The RSLC is encouraged to see so many women candidates running in state legislative races who will effectively represent their communities in Concord and advance commonsense policies to counteract Joe Biden’s failed agenda,” said RSLC National Press Secretary Stephanie Rivera.

The RSLC has so far spent $500,000 to help send women and others to Concord this election cycle. According to Rivera, 27 percent of the Republicans running for the House this year are women, as are 26 percent of the GOP Senate candidates. Betting on Republican women is a safe wager, she said.

“In the State House, 51 percent of Republican women who ran in 2020 won their campaigns. In the Senate, Republican women had a 55 percent success rate,” she said.

According to Rivera, the RSLC’s Right Leaders Network is leading the effort to grow the Republican Party through the RSLC’s Right Women Right Now and Future Majority Project initiatives. The committee is focused on recruiting, training, supporting, and electing thousands of diverse state Republicans across the country.

New Hampshire is a key state for both Republicans and Democrats, as the national parties are looking to gain a foothold in state legislature races. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) is targeting legislatures in New Hampshire, Michigan, and Minnesota, pumping money and resources in an effort to turn all three state legislatures blue.

“We know what we’re up against, but we are making a play to undercut GOP power in the Michigan House and Senate, the Minnesota Senate, and the New Hampshire House and Senate,” DLCC President Jessica Post said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

It makes sense for the national GOP to invest in New Hampshire races, according to Rivera, as the GOP leadership in Concord has proven successful in handling the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, and voters are looking to continue that success.

“New Hampshire has the best economy in the New England region and the second lowest unemployment rate in the country because the Republican-controlled Legislature has made the economy a top priority by passing a historic state budget that includes $171 million in tax relief for working families and small businesses, cuts taxes for retirees, and reduces property taxes by $100 million to provide relief. This diverse slate of candidates will help Republicans hold both chambers in the Granite State to continue this record of success,” Rivera said.

Democrats have been leaning heavily on abortion as an issue to motivate their base. They’re spending big money on ads attacking GOP Gov. Chris Sununu for signing a law that bans abortion after 24 weeks, or six months, of pregnancy. Sununu’s challenger, Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, is using abortion as a major campaign plank, arguing against any restrictions on abortion.

“I would want to put in place Roe v. Wade in the state of New Hampshire,” Sherman said. “New Hampshire does not want the state in between a doctor and a patient, especially on such an intensely private issue.”

The issue may play with well Democratic donors, but not even New Hampshire Democrats support unrestricted abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. A St. Anslem College poll taken in August found about a quarter of Granite State Democrats support some limits on abortion, as do about 70 percent of the general population.

Rivera said New Hampshire voters, especially women voters, see the GOP as having the answer to issues like out-of-control inflation, soaring energy costs, and the price of food.

“Just like all voters in New Hampshire, women are pleased with the job being done by the Republican trifecta in Concord to push back against Joe Biden’s inflation with tax cuts that put more money in the pockets of working families,” Rivera said.

Candidates Debate Abortion, 2020 Election in NH-01 GOP Primary Debate

The five GOP candidates running for the chance to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas this fall took to the stage Thursday night, sparring over election integrity, abortion, and foreign policy. 

The crowded conservative field of Karoline Leavitt, Matt Mowers, Gail Huff Brown, Tim Baxter, and Russell Prescott largely agree on the issues.  But that didn’t stop Huff Brown from going on the attack first.

In answering a question on abortion considering the U. S. Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs case, which gives the authority back to states, Huff Brown targeted Leavitt and accused her of not being pro-life. Leavitt has just answered that she supports New Hampshire’s 24-week ban on abortion.

(CREDIT: Alan Glassman)

“You can’t be pro-life and support the law in New Hampshire,” Huff Brown said.

“I am pro-life, and I do support the law in New Hampshire,” Leavitt responded, before turning the tables. “So, what are you?”

Huff Brown declined to answer.

Huff Brown also went after Mowers over voting twice during the 2016 presidential primaries, once in New Hampshire and again later in New Jersey.

“We need to talk about election integrity. We have one person up here who voted twice. That’s not election integrity,” she said.

Mowers hit back, saying an investigation by New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella cleared him of any wrongdoing and accused Huff Brown of using Democratic talking points.

“Gail, that’s just silly stuff. I know you’re new to this state, maybe you didn’t know the rules,” Mowers said.

The candidates again disagreed on aid to Ukraine, with Mowers and Prescott coming out in full favor of helping Ukraine fight Russia’s invasion, though both said the money needs to be accounted for.

“We should absolutely support Ukraine, but we need to verify the money is actually going to the crisis,” Prescott said.

Leavitt and Baxter opposed sending money to Ukraine. Huff Brown was unclear on her position.

Former President Donald Trump loomed large in the debate, as both Mowers and Leavitt worked for his administration. Mowers touted his position in the State Department while Leavitt made frequent mention of her job in the White House Press Office. Huff Brown also claimed to have worked for Trump. Her husband, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, served as Trump’s ambassador to New Zealand.

None of the candidates were willing to say outright that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election. Baxter cited the debunked conspiracy theory movie “2,000 Mules” and said all the individual state elections need to be audited. The other candidates said there needs to be a review or audit of the election process. It was Leavitt who went furthest, saying Biden was not elected in 2020.

“The 2020 election was stolen and there is no way Joe Biden legitimately won 81 million votes,” she said.

The audience at the event hall at the Saint Anselm Institute for Politics was full of campaign aides, as well as supporters, friends, and family of the candidates. Linda Chard came out to support Baxter, saying he has the youth, energy, and ideals needed to win.

“One hundred percent because of his proven, conservative voting record,” Chard said.

Chard would not commit to a second choice if Baxter does not win the primary, saying she is not impressed with the other candidates.

State Sen. Bill Gannon (R-Sandown) came out to support Mowers, who he sees as the best conservative to win.

“Matt is young, energetic, has great ideas, and has experience in Washington,” Gannon said.

Gannon was impressed with the overall slate on the debate stage, saying he could support Huff Brown or Prescott as second choices, but he was disappointed in their answer on the 2020 election.

“I was unhappy that no one would say Joe Biden got the most votes,” Gannon said.

Playing into election conspiracy theories will only hurt Republicans in the fall, Gannon said. While he voted for Trump, Gannon said the former president did lose the election and it is now time for the GOP to move on.

Scott Brown said all the candidates put in a good effort Thursday night.

“They all did really well, everyone up there is qualified,” Brown said.

He took exception, however, to Mowers’ jab at his wife, implying that she recently moved to New Hampshire.

“She’s been a property owner and taxpayer in New Hampshire for 30 years, almost as long as he’s been alive. He’s been here what? Four months?”

Scott Brown said Prescott is his second choice.

“He’s just a good guy,” he said.

The debate can be streamed on NH Journal’s Facebook page 

 

In NH-02 Primary Debate, GOP Candidates Clash on Immigration, Abortion

The three Republican candidates vying to take on Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster this fall clashed over immigration and abortion Monday night during the New Hampshire Journal debate at Saint Anselm’s New Hampshire Institute for Politics. 

Bob Burns, the “pro-Trump” candidate from Pembroke, spent most of the night on offense. He attacked his opponents, Weare’s Lily Tang Williams and Keene Mayor George Hansel, over their stances on illegal immigration. 

Burns accused Tang Williams of supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and called out “Woke George’s sanctuary city, Keene.”

“So, you’re lying again, Bob, as usual,” Hansel responded. “Keene is not a sanctuary city.”

Hansel said Keene’s police chief assured him the department will cooperate with federal agents when enforcing immigration laws, as opposed to the policies in actual sanctuary cities where police do not assist federal immigration agents.

Tang Williams also accused Burns of lying about her record. She supports a pathway to citizenship for people who qualify for the DACA program, those brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children and who were raised in America. However, she said she does not support a pathway for people who came illegally as adults.

“Bob’s campaign has been attacking me from the very beginning,” Tang Williams said. “Who needs Democrats when you have Republicans attacking you?”

They also differ on abortion considering the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case. Burns said if elected he will push for a federal heartbeat bill that would limit abortions nationally.

“Instead of codifying Roe v. Wade, we should be codifying life,” Burns said.

Tang Williams supports the recent Supreme Court ruling to send the question of abortion back to the states, allowing local voters to make their own decision. Tang Williams does not support any new federal law regulating or banning abortion, saying the matter needs to be left to the people in each state.

“It should always belong to the states to let local people decide it,” she said.

Hansel, who is pro-choice, agrees with the Dobbs ruling, saying it allows states to craft laws that make sense for their own people. He does not support any federal law regarding abortion.

“This is an issue that is firmly with the states, which is where it belongs,” Hansel said. “This is a contentious issue, and the decisions belong as close to the people as possible.”

Hansel said voters are very concerned about record levels of inflation and soaring energy prices, issues where President Joe Biden’s administration has failed and they are not up for fighting more culture war battles.

“It’s all about inflation, it’s all about the higher costs that people are paying here in New Hampshire because of Joe Biden and Ann Kuster’s reckless Washington agenda,” Hansel said.

Both Tang Williams and Burns sent out press releases Monday night claiming victory in the debate.

The full debate, hosted by NH Journal, is available for streaming online at NH Journal’s Facebook page.

 

Vandals Hit Littleton Pregnancy Center, Part of National Trend

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked in early May, there have been dozens of attacks against pregnancy clinics offering counseling and care to women considering alternatives to abortion. On Tuesday, that trend came to New Hampshire when the Pathways Pregnancy Care Center was vandalized.

According to Littleton Police Chief Paul Smith, volunteers at the center found graffiti on the side of the building reading “Fund Abortion, Abort God.” Pathways is a faith-based ministry devoted to helping pregnant women renting space from the Elevate Church.

Police in Littleton say it is too early to tell if the vandalism counts as a hate crime.  “It could be determined as the facts develop that this is a hate crime,” Smith said.

Shannon McGinley of Cornerstone Action, however, says there is no doubt. “This is a hate crime.”

The FBI is investigating more than 40 violent attacks on pregnancy centers and churches in the wake of the Supreme Court leak. Some centers have been firebombed, and others have had significant damage from vandalism. The Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the authority to regulate abortion back to the states.

Smith said his investigators are working on the case, and they have already contacted the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office about the possibility this could end up charged as a hate crime.

Michael Garrity, director of communications at the New Hampshire Department of Justice, said the state Attorney General’s Office is watching for Littleton’s results.

“At this point, our office is aware of an incident at the center. The Littleton Police Department alerted our Civil Rights Unit, flagging the incident as one of concern,” Garrity said. “We are now closely monitoring an active, ongoing investigation being carried out by Littleton Police investigators. Our Civil Rights Unit will ultimately look at how the facts and circumstances of the case develop.”

Under New Hampshire law, a person who commits a crime “motivated … because of hostility towards the victim’s religion, race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin or sex,” could face enhanced penalties. Smith said the alleged crime might be charged as misdemeanor criminal mischief if there is no hate crime component found during the investigation. Misdemeanors rarely result in jail time.

Pathways offers free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, parenting classes, baby supplies, as well as help with getting social assistance, among other services.

“There are three times as many Pregnancy Care Centers (PCC) in New Hampshire as there are abortion facilities. We are even blessed with two maternity homes,” McGinley said. “Every client is treated with compassion and respect – regardless of the decision they choose for their pregnancy. Empowering women to make informed decisions is a top priority,” McGinley said.

Pro-abortion activists, however, have attacked these facilities for years, raising their profile as a possible target. An abortion extremist group, Jane’s Revenge, has taken credit for some of the recent attacks, including smashing the doors and windows of a Michigan clinic.

Their message: “If abortion isn’t safe, neither are you.”

Last week, Kayla Montgomery, vice president of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, took to the airwaves to attack the facilities in New Hampshire.

“I want to be clear; crisis pregnancy centers are not based in science or in medicine,” Montgomery told WMUR. “If people need care, they should call their local Planned Parenthood of New Hampshire abortion provider who will provide honest, compassionate, non-judgmental care and explain the full range of options.”

Montgomery did not respond to a request for comment about the vandalism in Littleton.

And Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) has also been critical of these facilities in the past, accusing them of offering “fake health” in order to trick women into keeping their babies.

“In New Hampshire – and at more than 2,700 locations across our nation – women are walking into fake women’s health centers, misleadingly called ‘crisis pregnancy centers,’ believing that they are receiving medically sound, neutral advice about pregnancy. But these centers really exist to serve one purpose: preventing women from accessing abortion,” Hassan wrote in 2018.

Hassan, who has kept a steady stream of public comments about abortion rights over the past two months, has been silent on both the spike in attacks on pregnancy centers and the threats targeting Supreme Court justices — including a failed assassination — since the Alito opinion leaked.

McGinley says there is a clear double standard.

“These kinds of attacks underscore the cynical nature of arguments that pro-life people do not offer enough material assistance to women in need. When abortion advocates—from arsonist groups to Elizabeth Warren—threaten pregnancy care centers, they are saying that assistance to women is immoral unless it specifically promotes abortion,” McGinley said. “Their goal is not helping the vulnerable. Their goal is to spread abortion like a religion—and they don’t care if that means taking services away from women in need.”

Executive Director of Pathways Pregnancy Care Center Angel Marshall said their mission will continue.

Pathways will not allow a hate crime to hinder the much-needed support we provide.  This has not and will not deter us from serving our community,” Marshall said. “Empowering men, women, and teens to make informed decisions is a top priority. I am working closely with the Littleton Police Department in this investigation. We are taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of the center’s staff, volunteers, and clients.”

Smith said the volunteers at Pathways are responding to the vandalism by organizing more help to provide security at the center. He’s asking anyone with information to contact Littleton Police at 603 444 7711.

NH Law Not Impacted by SCOTUS Ruling, But NHDems Still Vow to Fight

New Hampshire’s elected officials responded with anger and outrage to the news of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision, sending the regulation of abortion back to the states and the people. New Hampshire Democrats promised to fight. 

“I am angry and heartbroken by today’s Supreme Court decision. We knew this was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Elections have consequences, and I will never stop fighting for access to abortion and a woman’s right to choose,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said on Twitter.

Sen. Maggie Hassan called the ruling a “radical” decision.

“The Supreme Court’s radical decision to take away a woman’s freedom – her right to bodily autonomy – has pulled us back decades,” Hassan said. “Abortion is a fundamental right. I won’t let this be the final word on our freedom, and I will keep fighting.”

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster (D) said the conservative majority on the Supreme Court will go further unless Democrats win elections.

“Make no mistake – they are coming for contraception. They are coming for same-sex marriage. Elections matter. Vote,” she tweeted.

Alito’s majority opinion explicitly confronts that particular argument, saying, “Rights regarding contraception and same-sex relationships are inherently different from the right to abortion because the latter (as we have stressed) uniquely involves what Roe and Casey termed ‘potential life.'” However, Justice Clarence Thomas, in a lone concurring opinion, suggested any cases resolved based on “substantive due process precedents” — which includes cases involving birth control and same-sex marriage — should be “reconsidered.”

Governor Chris Sununu released a statement repeating the fact that New Hampshire’s law isn’t impacted in any way by this ruling. “Regardless of this Supreme Court decision, access to these services will continue to remain safe, accessible, and legal in New Hampshire,” Sununu said.

Nevertheless, U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, D-Manchester, still claimed the Supreme Court’s ruling impacted women in the Granite State.

“This decision is a devastating blow against the health, well-being, and personal freedom of women in New Hampshire and all across our country,” Pappas said.

And state legislators like Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) went so far as to “implore” Sununu  “to call the Legislature back in for a special session to enshrine the right to safe, legal abortion care here in New Hampshire.” She did not explain how the court’s ruling affected abortions in the state.

State Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, who is running to unseat Sununu, said he would fight to ensure women continue to have the right to abortion in New Hampshire.

“I trust women to make their own medical decisions, & I will fight to codify into N.H. law the right to a safe and legal abortion,” Sherman tweeted. “Access to safe abortions & contraceptives have allowed women to grow their careers and make choices that are right for them & their families.”

All four members of the state’s federal delegation support the Women’s Health Protection Act, which, if passed, would force states to allow abortions without restriction through all nine months of pregnancy.

Dartmouth Health, the state’s largest healthcare provider, issued a statement on Friday affirming it would continue to provide abortion.

“Dartmouth Health is unwavering in its belief in the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship to make the best-informed decisions for patients to reflect their needs and healthcare priorities,” the statement read. “We also strongly believe that abortion is an essential component of healthcare. Like all medical matters, decisions regarding abortion should be made by patients in consultation with their healthcare providers.”

While Democrats in New Hampshire and national were blaming Republicans for the decision, Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats for Life, pointed out that the party’s extremist stance on abortion likely cost it the support needed to protect Roe.

“Abortion activists are responsible for the Roe being overturned. They overstepped by celebrating abortion and advocating for it for up to 9 months. The Democratic Party embraced these extremists leading to Republican majorities all over the country,” Day wrote on Twitter.

New Hampshire Republicans offered muted praise for the ruling, emphasizing the court’s decision moves the issue back to the states.

“I’m proud of my pro-life record in the New Hampshire State Senate,” said Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem), a candidate for U.S. Senate. “Last year we settled the law in New Hampshire that permits abortions in the first six months while banning late-term and partial-birth abortions in the last 12 weeks of a pregnancy – a policy that the vast majority of Granite Staters support. This decision has no impact on New Hampshire. I strongly believe that the states should have the right to govern policy in their respective states as the Supreme Court has ruled,” Morse said.

Retired Gen. Don Bolduc, who is also running in the GOP U.S. Senate primary, applauded the court’s decision as well.

“As a pro-life candidate, I believe the Supreme Court made the right decision. After the death and destruction I’ve seen across war-torn places in Afghanistan and Africa, I believe all life should be protected,” Bolduc said. “We must understand that this opinion does not outlaw abortion. It returns the decision to the individual states to make the decision they think is best for their citizens. Here in New Hampshire, our state has already passed our own laws well before this Court decision. That is precisely how the Founding Fathers intended our Constitutional Republic to function.”

Kevin Smith, R-Londonderry, another GOP U.S. Senate candidate, said state legislatures are the appropriate place to make decisions about abortion laws.

“I support returning the matter to the state legislatures, so the people in each of those states have a say in determining when it is appropriate to put reasonable restrictions in place, such as New Hampshire has done on late-term abortions,” he said.

In the GOP primary for the First Congressional District, several candidates were quick to give credit for the ruling to former President Donald Trump.

“I applaud the Supreme Court’s righteous decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Today, life wins, and the rule of law has prevailed. God Bless the Justices, and thank you President Trump!” said Karoline Leavitt, who is hoping to challenge Pappas in November.

Rep. Tim Baxter (R-Seabrook), another candidate in the crowded First District field, also thanked Trump, and said more work needs to be done.

“We need proven conservative leaders in Congress who will stand up against the radical abortionists’ attempts to codify abortion into federal law, and I look forward to defending the lives of the unborn once I’m elected to Congress,” he wrote.

Cornerstone Action, which has promoted pro-life legislation, issued a statement predicting violence against pro-life groups as a result of the decision.

“We expect today’s news will hasten political polarization around the country and inflame a hateful totalitarianism which threatens America’s constitutional order. We must also focus—more than ever—on the physical safety of pregnancy care centers and churches and, ultimately, on protecting the separation of powers and the rule of law,” Cornerstone said.

The Sununu administration appeared to take those concerns seriously.

Friday afternoon, New Hampshire’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division issued a state-wide alert after activists were gathering to protest the decision at several locations throughout the state.

“The State Emergency Operations Center has been partially activated as of 4:00 PM on Friday, 6/24/22 to monitor multiple events taking place across the state in response to a Supreme Court decision.”

Pro-Life Republican Lovett Running as Democrat in District 8 Senate Race

What do you call a Democrat who’s voted in favor of a 20-week abortion ban, supported allowing gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit, and tried to pass restrictions to stop college students from voting?

Claremont’s Charlene Lovett.

A former Republican state representative who also once served as mayor of Claremont, Lovett has launched a bid for the District 8 Senate seat as a Democrat. Lovett said she changed her party registration this year because she’s become disenchanted with the GOP over the years.

“The party that I grew up in and have been part of for many decades isn’t the party of today. I feel like the party left me behind,” Lovett said.

Lovett now describes herself as a moderate Democrat as she seeks to unseat Sen. Ruth Ward, R-Stoddard.

While in the House in 2012, Lovett had a solidly pro-life voting record: she voted for bans on partial-birth and late-term abortion, as well as a 20-week abortion ban, and a 24-hour waiting period for abortion. She also supported giving legal protection to the unborn who were injured or killed when their mother was assaulted.

Lovett also opposed requiring health insurance to cover contraception.

On ballot access issues, Lovett supported a photo ID mandate. She also supported tightening the rules on residency for voting in a way that would block out-of-state college students from voting in New Hampshire. Most of her (now) fellow Democrats opposed these measures.

Lovett cast conservative votes on a range of issues. She supported tax credits for businesses that donate to private school scholarships and opposed legalizing medical marijuana. She was against refugee resettlements in New Hampshire, and she supported a state lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.

Ward said she has run into Lovett a few times over the years but does not know her well.

“I have not checked her voting records. It will be very interesting to do some research,” Ward said. “Anyone can run, and I will do my best against whoever is my opponent.”

Asked about her decidedly un-moderate voting record, Lovett said she’s changed her mind on many of her former positions.

“Over time, I’ve changed my positions, and that’s been caused by working with people from all walks of life and learning more about the challenges people face in their lives,” she said.

NHJournal reached out to state Democratic leaders to ask about having a candidate with such a pro-Republican record running to represent their party, particularly in a community like Claremont that backed progressive Bernie Sanders in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential primaries.

District 8 also includes Acworth, Antrim, Bennington, Charlestown, Croydon, Deering, Dunbarton, Francestown, Gilsum, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, Newport, Stoddard, Sunapee, Unity, Washington, Weare and Windsor.

Progressives have been upset with the party establishment for years, as the younger left wing of the party continues to get ignored by the old guard. Two progressives Democrats abandoned the House caucus to become independents during the current session, and a third quit the House entirely.

And leaders of the New Hampshire Democratic Latino Caucus resigned in opposition to the embrace of what they call “racist” immigration policies by Hassan and fellow Democrat incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas. They’ve held public protests as well.

While Lovett may have become a Democrat, she’s no progressive. If she’s able to win her new party’s nomination without a fight, it could be yet another indicator that state party chairman Ray Buckley’s strategy is for New Hampshire Democrats to tack hard to the right as the midterms approach.

It’s not working, according to RNC Spokesman Andrew Mahaleris.

“Whether it’s Maggie Hassan endorsing a border wall, Chris Pappas supporting Title 42, or Charlene Lovett finally revealing her true colors as a Democrat, it’s clear that Ray Buckley and the rest of his party know they are in trouble. While these pandering politicians are claiming to support commonsense policies to get elected, Granite State voters know where their true priorities lie and will defeat them in November,” Mahaleris said.

In addition to her time as a state rep, Lovett has served on the Claremont School Board, City Council, and as the mayor. Her service has not been without controversy.

In 2019, Claremont City Manager Ryan McNutt blamed Lovett for his firing, and for creating a difficult environment in city hall.

“She is one of the most difficult people I’ve worked with,” McNutt said at the time. “She is not someone who understood her role.”

McNutt said Lovett was constantly trying to attain more power as mayor. Claremont is chartered with a weak mayor’s position, giving day-to-day responsibility to the city manager.

“There was a desire for more control,” McNutt said.

That same year, City Councilor Jon Stone accused Lovett of interfering with a police investigation during the 2016 shooting of Claremont man Cody LaFont by city police. Lovett said at the time that she would welcome an investigation into this accusation, though none was pursued.

NHDems Double Down on Late-Term Abortion, Ending Parental Notification

When Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced he was bringing the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) back up for another vote, Sen. Maggie Hassan quickly responded on Twitter.

“Preview: I’m voting yes.”

It was not a surprise. Hassan and her Granite State colleague Sen. Jeanne Shaheen were among the four senators who introduced the legislation last June, according to a statement posted on her website. And she already voted in February in a failed attempt to bring the bill to the Senate floor.

What might be a surprise to most New Hampshire voters, however, is what is actually in the WHPA. Among other things, the legislation Hassan helped introduce would:

  • Overturn state laws that limit abortion to either the first or second trimesters. States would have to allow legal abortion up to the day of birth.  As the pro-choice organization Equal Access to Abortion, Everywhere puts it, the WHPA “establishes a statutory right for health care providers to provide, and their patients to receive, abortion care free from medically unnecessary restrictions.”
  • Override nearly all state abortion laws, including parental notification laws like the one New Hampshire passed in 2011. As the WHPA states: “Access to abortion services has been obstructed across the United States in various ways, including … parental involvement laws (notification and consent).”
  • Weaken “conscience exemptions” to keep healthcare workers from being forced to participate in abortion procedures that violate their religious beliefs. The bill as introduced by Hassan and Shaheen explicitly supersedes the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“WHPA will essentially legalize abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy and undo every state law that has protected children in the womb,” according to the group Democrats for Life America.

And unlike many controversial issues where Hassan is careful not to articulate a clear, specific position, on the WHPA her stances — supporting abortion at any point during a pregnancy, without parental consent for minors, and forcing people of faith to participate in them — is in writing. And she voted with a majority of her fellow Democrats to bring the WHPA to the floor for a vote in February.

The same with Rep. Chris Pappas, who voted with every Democrat except one to pass the WHPA last fall.

While polls consistently show Americans say they oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, polls also show only a small percentage of Americans support abortions in the final months of pregnancy. Since 1996, Gallup has found more than 80 percent of Americans oppose third-trimester abortion, which would be a federal mandate in every state under the bill Hassan introduced and Pappas helped pass.

And a 2021 University of New Hampshire poll found Granite Staters support some restrictions on abortion vs. unlimited abortion on demand 58-38 percent.

During a radio interview with Jack Heath Thursday about the prospect of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, businessman and academic Vikram Mansharamani echoed the view of most Americans, based on polling data.

“If you look at the topic of abortion, you take a commonsensical non-political perspective I think, most would agree that a late-term abortion, partial-birth abortion, third-trimester abortion is not acceptable,” said Mansharamani, who is running in the GOP U.S. Senate primary. “I don’t think there’s a lot of people who think that is worth pursuing, but that is where Maggie Hassan and the Democrats are.”

The New Hampshire Democratic Party has been sending multiple press releases daily on the abortion issue since Justice Samuel Alito’s February draft of an opinion overturning Roe was leaked Monday night. They believe staking out a no-restrictions stance on abortion will help them motivate younger voters who tend not to turn out in midterm elections.

President Joe Biden, whose poll numbers are lower than any other post-war president at this point in a presidency, has strongly embraced this issue. “The idea that we’re going to make a judgment that is going to say that no one can make the judgment to choose to abort a child, based on a decision by the Supreme Court, I think goes way overboard,” he said Tuesday.

His message for the midterms: “It will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November. At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”

The question is whether turning the November election into a referendum — not on general attitudes about abortion, but a specific law like the WHPA to mandate unrestricted abortion — will motivate more pro-choice liberals or pro-life conservatives?

Both Hassan and Pappas are polling underwater with New Hampshire voters. Their big problem is independents, where they have a 20-point approval deficit. Based on polling about how these voters view the difficult issue of abortion, staking out an extreme position on late-term abortion, parental consent and personal conscience may not be the best way to get those voters back.