Full Analysis: Two Victories and a Narrow Defeat in NH House Session

The New Hampshire House met this week and oversaw two victories and one narrow defeat on Cornerstone-priority bills. This week’s developments should be emboldening—but also a reminder of the urgent work that remains to be done. We give thanks to God for these hard-fought victories—and pray urgently for His continued mercy upon our state and intercession on behalf of His people. 

In the most secular state in the country, we are grateful to count so many godly and righteous men and women among our elected representatives. If your representatives helped in these efforts, please take a moment to call or email them and thank them for doing the right thing.  

HB 1625Restoring Free Speech Outside Abortion ClinicsBravely Passed by the House

For years, New Hampshire’s “buffer zone” law has allowed private abortion clinics to ban sidewalk counseling and protesting on the public sidewalks outside their facilities. This law is a naked violation of the First Amendment. However, as abortion clinics have never actually enforced the law, it cannot be challenged in court.

Knowing that the law would be struck down if it is ever actually enforced, New Hampshire abortion clinics have avoided enforcing the law while, at the same time, campaigning vigorously against any legislative attempts to repeal it. The clinics’ goal is to keep the law on the books in order to deter pro-life speech through the lingering threat of possible punishment.

HB 1625, introduced by Rep. Niki Kelsey and passed by the House this week, will repeal the buffer zone law. Please thank your Republican representatives who voted for the bill—zero Democrats did so—and especially representatives Kelsey, Mark McLean, and Jeanine Notter for their leadership on the House floor and during the Judiciary process.  

Several Republicans voted to allow prohibiting free speech outside abortion clinics, including representatives Joe Alexander, Joseph Depalma, Brodie Deshaies, Ned Gordon, John Graham, Bonnie Ham, Claire Rouillard, Dennis Thompson, Dan Wolf, and Josh Yokela.

Most of these votes are unsurprising. Rep. Alexander was instrumental in a previous attempt to destroy the state’s six-month abortion ban—although he fortunately listened to his constituents and voted to defend the six-month ban this week. Rep. Josh Yokela likes to portray himself as an advocate of liberty, but he apparently believes in forcibly suppressing the speech of those who disagree with his views on abortion. 

HB 1673—A Bill to Destroy the Six-Month Abortion Ban—Heroically Defeated in the House

HB 1673 is now the fourth bill to come up for a vote this session which would have repealed or completely destroyed New Hampshire’s modest six-month abortion ban: the Fetal Life Protection Act. HB 1673, the second such bill to be created from scratch by the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee, would have entirely gutted the FLPA by removing all enforcement mechanisms from the law—as well as adding an open-ended exception that would make abortionists the final word on when abortions can occur.

The House defeated this bill on Wednesday in a 165-163 vote. The vote occurred late in the evening and many Republicans were absent, contributing to the narrow margin.

In a voice vote, the House then passed an amendment proposed by a minority of the Judiciary Committee—using language originally introduced by Rep. Matt Simon—which instead protects the FLPA by reiterating and further clarifying the limited scope of the law’s ultrasound requirement. Identical language was passed by state Senate Republicans in February in an amendment to SB 399.

Cornerstone is grateful to all the Republicans who voted to protect New Hampshire’s six-month abortion ban—no Democrats did so—and especially for the fearless leadership of representatives Matt Simon, Jeanine Notter, Erica Layon, and Kurt Wuelper, among others, on the House floor and during the Judiciary process. Please express your appreciation to your Republican representatives who voted for the bill, and especially to these key leaders for their bold, Christlike example. The roll call can be found here.

Please also thank and encourage representatives Bill Boyd, Oliver Ford, and Andrew Prout—who we were pleasantly surprised to see voting to defend the six-month abortion ban. We are grateful to representatives Boyd, Ford, and Prout for listening to their constituents. 

We are also thankful for the support House GOP leadership provided in defeating this bill. We hope that GOP leaders will continue to move in the right direction. However, if the FLPA is to survive this session, it is important to continue to call on House GOP leaders to intervene in the House Judiciary Committee.

Under the leadership of pro-abortion Republican Ned Gordon—who state GOP leadership appointed—the Republican-led Judiciary Committee has acted as a factory of extreme pro-abortion legislation, forcing pro-lifers to play whack-a-mole and to be constantly on the defensive. 

If Chairman Gordon is not finally stopped, he will soon rewrite SB 399 into the fifth bill this year aimed at gutting or repealing the FLPA—the third such bill to be created by the GOP-led Committee itself. Additionally, Judiciary member Rep. Joe Alexander has also shown—through his vote on HB 1625—that he still cannot be trusted to defend the Republican Party platform on future abortion legislation.

On the House floor, several Republicans voted to pass the Judiciary Committee version of HB 1673 and return to unlimited abortion up to birth, including representatives James Allard, Lex Berezhny, Joseph Depalma, Ned Gordon, John Graham, John Lewicke, Bob Lynn, Diane Pauer, Claire Rouillard, Dan Wolf, and Josh Yokela. Most of these Republicans have long records of pro-abortion extremism.

Unfortunately, representative and former Chief Justice Bob Lynn—although always pro-choice—was previously willing to compromise with pro-lifers and support a prohibition at six months of pregnancy. If you are in Windham, which Rep. Lynn represents, please politely and graciously ask that he return to his previous moderate position. If you are not Rep. Lynn’s constituent, please pray that he will do so.

In contrast, Rep. Diane Pauer of Brookline ran for office on a pro-life platform, then became a pro-abortion extremist seemingly the moment she took office. Amazingly, Rep. Pauer continues to openly distort her position on her website, where she claims to support prohibiting abortion with limited exceptions. By voting for HB 1673, however, Rep. Pauer once again voted to remove all restrictions on abortion in New Hampshire whatsoever.

HB 1180—State Recognition of Biological Sex—Defeated by Only 8 Votes

New Hampshire currently has liberal laws regarding gender and state ID, allowing Granite Staters to freely select whatever gender they choose on their driver’s licenses. Elsewhere in the country, liberal federal courts are interpreting similar state laws to mandate that any distinction between the sexes must be made according to state documents alone—without regard to whether someone has even received medical transitioning. 

In order to prevent these kinds of abusive interpretations, Rep. Linda Gould and other women legislators courageously introduced HB 1180: “relative to state recognition of biological sex.” 

This bill would not have forced any school board or state agency to change their current policies. Instead, it would have protected the status quo by clarifying that public entities retain the ability to use biological sex as a factor when making decisions about athletics, incarceration, and other areas. In other words, this was the most modest bill on gender issues that a conservative could have possibly introduced.

Unfortunately, all House Democrats and 14 Republicans believe that assignments in athletics, incarceration, and other areas must be made on the basis of self-declared gender identity alone, without regard to whether someone has received gender reassignment surgery or even hormonal medication. In California, this position has led to a scenario where multiple men with male genitals are the cellmates of incarcerated women.

The Republicans who voted to help bring this kind of cruelty to New Hampshire include representatives Joe Alexander, Cody Belanger, Kevin Craig, Joseph Depalma, Brodie Deshaies, Ned Gordon, John Graham, Juliet Harvey-Bolia, Claire Rouillard, Robert Theberge, Dennis Thompson, Karen Umberger, Nick White, and Dan Wolf. As a result, HB 1180 was defeated by only 8 votes.

Please thank the other Republicans—167 of them: 49% of voting representatives—who voted to protect women and girls by supporting the state’s ability to continue considering biological sex. We are especially grateful to prime sponsor Rep. Linda Gould, and for the leadership on the House floor of representatives Mark Pearson, Erica Layon, and Dennis Acton. Cornerstone is grateful for Karoline Leavitt’s passionate support of the bill.

The narrow defeat of HB 1180 followed a one-sided debate in which three Democrats spoke consecutively against the bill, while Republicans were barely allowed to utter a few sentences on the substance of the bill before the vote could occur.

It is undemocratic that a measure supported by 49% of New Hampshire’s elected representatives was not even given a debate in the People’s House. Despite this temporary setback, however, momentum around the country, and in New Hampshire, is overwhelmingly on our side.

The cultural left has no breaks—and its increasingly deranged and totalitarian views on gender are steadily alienating former liberals. Cultural progressives, whether Democrats or Republicans, will not succeed in sacrificing the dignity of women and girls on the altar of crazed gender ideology. 

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