Jun 27, 2016 6:10 PM
NH1 News Political Director
CONCORD – Monday’s stunning Supreme Court ruling on abortion instantly impacted New Hampshire’s blockbuster U.S. Senate race.
And the decision by the high court justices came just two days before a crucial Granite State showdown over funding for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which could impact the Granite State’s wide open race for governor.
In a 5-3 ruling, the Supreme Court struck down one of the nation’s most toughest restrictions on abortion, throwing out a Texas law that said clinics providing abortion services must meet the same standards as surgical centers. The measure also mandated that physicians performing abortions have admitting status at nearby hospitals.
The law was passed in 2013, and since then the number of clinics in the Lone Star state providing abortion services shrank from 42 to 19.
Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan, who’s challenging Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte this year, put out a statement moments after the ruling was handed down.
“It's critical that we fight to protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions and control her own destiny, and today’s Supreme Court ruling affirming this fundamental right is a victory for women and families everywhere,” Hassan wrote.
The governor went on to criticize Ayotte, writing “unfortunately, there are far too many in Washington – including Senator Ayotte – who are still working to restrict women’s access to affordable health care. Senator Ayotte believes Roe v. Wade should ‘certainly’ be overturned and has voted six times to defund Planned Parenthood. She supports the backward Hobby Lobby decision that allowed employers to deny access to contraceptive coverage to women, and has repeatedly voted to end New Hampshire’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion program, which would strip tens of thousands of Granite State women of their access to life-saving preventative care with no out of pocket costs.”
Hours later, Ayotte’s office released a statement, which was first reported by NH1 News.
“While the Supreme Court has spoken in this matter, Senator Ayotte supports the right of states to ensure appropriate standards of care that fully protect women's health. As part of her commitment to ensuring that all women have access to quality health care, she has successfully worked to protect access to mammograms, fought to expand access to contraceptives, and supported securing more funding for breast and ovarian cancer research,” wrote Chloe Rockow, a spokeswoman in Ayotte’s Senate office.
The reproductive rights of women have been an important issue in the race between Ayotte and Hassan, which is one of the most high profile, expensive and negative U.S. Senate showdowns this year, and will be a crucial contest in deciding whether the Democrats regain control of the chamber.
In an interview with NH1 News hours after she launched her campaign last October, Hassan said “Sen. Ayotte’s stand against planned parenthood, she voted to defund planned parenthood. That’s deeply, deeply, concerning.”
Days later, the conservative third-party group One Nation launched a seven-figure ad buy in the Granite State defending Ayotte’s record on women’s healthcare.
In April, NH1 News was first to report that Ayotte was the target of the first Senate TV ad this cycle by the political wing of Planned Parenthood.
New Hampshire’s senior U.S. senator, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, praised the ruling.
“A woman’s ability to make her own decisions about her health, family and future is a Constitutional right in America and I am happy to see the Supreme Court reaffirm it,” Shaheen said in a statement. “This is an important victory for women across the country, not just in Texas. We cannot play politics with women’s health and, time and again, the Court has made this clear. Today, the Supreme Court sent a signal to state legislatures that have made it their duty to subversively dismantle a woman’s right to choose – targeting healthcare providers and creating barriers to access care is fundamentally unconstitutional.”
Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster, who represents New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District, weighed in as well, writing “every woman deserves the ability to make her own health care choices – not the government, not her employers, and not state legislators. I applaud the Supreme Court for standing up for the right of every woman across the country with this ruling.”
But it was a very different message from the only Republican member of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation, Frank Guinta.
The congressman from the 1st CD wrote “as we saw in Philadelphia, where Kermit Gosnell committed unspeakable violence against babies and their mothers, abortion facilities must meet basic health and safety standards. Today’s Court decision removes common-sense provisions written to protect the safety and well being of the woman. Liberal justices granted abortion clinics a dangerous degree of latitude that our society would never permit for similar medical practices.”
Ruling impacts gubernatorial battle
The decision by the high court justices preceded by two days a showdown on the five member New Hampshire Executive Council over state funding for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, a vote that is front and center in the race for the Corner Office.
At stake, a $549,000 contract for PPNNE that was rejected last summer by the council. Councilor Chris Sununu, who had previously voted in favor of the contract, joined the two other Republican members of the council, Joe Kenney and David Wheeler in voting against the contract.
Democratic Councilors Colin Van Ostern and Chris Pappas voted in favor of the contract.
Van Ostern and Sununu are now both running for governor. On Friday Van Ostern put out a statement urging Sununu to vote in favor of the contract.
On Monday, reacting to the Supreme Court decision, Van Ostern wrote "on Wednesday, New Hampshire's Executive Council now has the chance to follow the Supreme Court's lead by restoring state funding for birth control, cancer screenings, and annual exams that was shut off last summer by Chris Sununu and two other men despite its broad bipartisan support. It's time to right this wrong and restore these funds."
Sununu said on Monday that “I’m in the process of reviewing the proposed contract and continuing to talk and listen to people on the matter. As I’ve always done, I will cast my vote on Wednesday with the best interest of my constituents in mind.”
For the second time in four days Manchester Mayor Ted Gatas, a rival for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, fired away at Sununu.
“Councilor Chris Sununu has repeatedly voted for state contracts that provided tax dollars to Planned Parenthood. He flip-flopped his position in recent months only after he began to think about running for governor. Now he is refusing to say how he will vote on a similar contract before the Executive Council this week – raising concerns that he is preparing to change his position again,” Gatsas wrote.
“New Hampshire doesn’t need timid politicians who hide from tough questions and refuse to give their positions on important issues. Councilor Sununu has had plenty of time to review this contract and he needs to pledge that he will vote against taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood,” he added.
Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Connolly urged Sununu to vote in favor of the contract.
“When the health of tens of thousands of Granite Staters—and their access to safe, affordable care—is at stake, there’s only one way to vote,” Connolly wrote. “That's why I urge the Executive Council to approve this critical funding for Planned Parenthood. Earlier today, I sent an open letter to my councilor, Chris Sununu, laying out the case for this contract and noting my expectation that he will do the right thing and vote to support it, along with his fellow councilors.
20 hours 27 minutes agoAn 80-year-old woman went out to close her chickens up and pick weeds form her garden, when a bobcat viciously attacked her. (More)
2 hours 57 minutes agoThe family of a teenage lifeguard who vanished from her post at a Massachusetts pond in 2000 has released a new video on the...
2 hours 21 minutes agoStorms will develop this afternoon. (More)
Jun 25, 2017 8:19 PMA bystander looked up to see a young girl dangling about 25 feet off the ground from a slow-moving gondola ride. (More)
19 hours 42 minutes agoA New Hampshire man is being indicted with the second-degree murder and manslaughter of his 3-year-old daughter early last year. (More)
18 hours 36 minutes agoA neighbor who witnessed the massive fire destroy Stenton Trust Mill said arson was inevitable due to the increased activity inside the abandoned building....
Jun 26, 2017 9:14 AMMassachusetts man drives a personal watercraft up and inside boat full of children on Great Pond. (More)
Jun 25, 2017 11:37 AMIn an effort to crack down on impaired driving, the New Hampshire State Police are setting up a sobriety checkpoint in Nashua. (More)
Jun 24, 2017 9:44 AMThe highest tide of the month flooded parts of Hampton overnight. (More)
Jun 25, 2017 10:40 AMOfficials say a NH man who crashed his boat onto rocks on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee has been charged with operating under the...
Jun 24, 2017 8:51 AMAfter sifting through numerous tips, police believe they have a suspect in the assault of a woman outside of Planet Fitness on June 12....
Jun 23, 2017 11:29 AM38 teenagers were arrested on alcohol-related charges after police broke up a gathering in Georges Mills Thursday night. (More)
Jun 23, 2017 12:14 PMAn inmate who escaped from a transport vehicle Thursday was captured in Concord Friday morning. (More)
Jun 22, 2017 2:40 PMA man was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison for physically overpowering and raping a 14-year-old girl in an unused hallway of...
Jun 22, 2017 12:34 PMAn elderly woman confused the brakes in the car with the gas, launching her into Lake Winnipesaukee. (More)
Jun 21, 2017 8:49 AMMost Granite Staters have encountered a tick at least once in their lifetime, but a meat allergy caused by a bite from a southeastern...
Jun 22, 2017 9:37 AMWhile Manchester PD arrests 5 people for prostitution, undercover detective offered heroin and discovers man with crystal methamphetamine. (More)
Jun 22, 2017 6:20 PMThe United States Marshal's office is searching for an escaped inmate who may be in the area of Belknap or Merrimack counties. (More)
Jun 21, 2017 6:19 PMBefore planning a day trip to a New Hampshire beach or pond, make sure to check that the water is not contaminated with fecal...
Jun 22, 2017 9:47 AMThe Department of Health and Human Services report a syphilis outbreak in the state, which is consistent with the national trend. (More)
Jun 21, 2017 3:57 PMDuring an interview, an abused child told detectives the man 'always hurts me almost every time' the two are together. (More)
Jun 21, 2017 3:42 PMWho is Christina Fay? What we know about her before she was arrested for housing 84 Great Danes in deplorable conditions at her Wolfeboro...
Jun 21, 2017 11:51 AMA potential funnel cloud was caught on camera. (More)
Jun 21, 2017 12:22 PMOn Tuesday afternoon police arrested a man for allegedly abusing a young boy he was watching. (More)
Jun 20, 2017 2:06 PM15,351 students at the University of New Hampshire can sleep peacefully knowing their campus has been ranked as the safest school in the Uunited...
Jun 20, 2017 3:45 PMPolice are looking to speak with a Somersworth woman after finding a car involved in a hit-and-run that killed a 71-year-old woman. (More)
Jun 20, 2017 11:39 AMTwo young children were present when police searched a Massachusetts apartment Monday night and arrested a man on multiple drug distribution charges. (More)
Jun 20, 2017 2:28 PMNew Hampshire State Police are hoping that video surfaced out of California may help lead to clues to solve the case of a serial...
Jun 19, 2017 1:13 PMA New Hampshire school district is mourning the loss of their superintendent after he died from a sudden illness. (More)
Jun 19, 2017 8:11 AMWhile investigating suspected money laundering, FBI recorded the man claiming he won money while in Colorado hunting Bigfoot. (More)
Jun 19, 2017 12:57 PMMany parents in New Hampshire probably believe their baby is the cutest in the state, but one competition is looking to say otherwise. (More)
Jun 19, 2017 4:30 PMPolice released the identity of a Massachusetts man who was killed after being involved in a three vehicle crash along Route 3A. (More)
Jun 18, 2017 2:32 PMThose looking to adopt the Great Danes rescued at a suspected New Hampshire puppy mill may have to wait up to a year to...
Jun 18, 2017 8:42 PMThunderstorms are likely to be strong Monday afternoon and evening. (More)
Jun 19, 2017 12:25 PMA Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for all of New Hampshire until 8 p.m. Monday. (More)
Jun 18, 2017 10:23 AMThe Somersworth Police Department are searching for the suspected driver who hit and killed a pedestrian. (More)
Jun 18, 2017 12:11 PMThree New Hampshire teenagers have been charged with assaulting a popular street performer in Boston who plays music while dressed as a bear. (More)
Jun 18, 2017 10:46 AMOfficers arrested three men at a New Hampshire homeless shelter after they resisted arrest by trying to take an officer's gun and hitting officers,...
Jun 18, 2017 11:17 AMDonations to The Humane Society of the United States helped ease the rescue of 84 Great Danes from a New Hampshire puppy mill. (More)
Jun 16, 2017 5:21 PMA Barnstead man is speaking out after his 2-year-old pool is unusable due to what he claims is an installation error. However, weather may...
Jun 16, 2017 2:34 PMAfter a stabbing victim arrived at Elliot Hospital, police and SWAT surrounded a Manchester house believing more victims could be within. (More)
Jun 16, 2017 2:07 PMAutopsy for suspect of a high speed chase through multiple states revealed the officer-involved shooting to be a homicide. (More)
Jun 15, 2017 3:40 PMTimothy Dearborn arraigned of several charges in Merrimack County Superior Court after allegedly shooting a gun Thursday night in downtown Concord. (More)
Jun 15, 2017 2:06 PMPolice in Mass. are investigating the death of a dog that was left in a car in a country club parking lot on a...
Jun 16, 2017 7:42 AMAn hour-long police chase that began in Massachusetts has ended in a crash in New Hampshire with the suspect dead. (More)
Jun 14, 2017 3:18 PMThe Strafford County Drug Task Force has arrested 13 people on drug charges over the past three months as a result of Operation Granite...
Jun 15, 2017 11:57 AMWitnesses told police Timothy Dearborn, 33, of Concord, showed them a 9mm pistol before walking to the Low Avenue area where he then fired...
Jun 15, 2017 2:50 PMPolice arrested two New York brothers who allegedly used counterfeit $100 bills in the city. (More)
Jun 14, 2017 4:02 PMA Portsmouth man shot and killed by officers died from multiple gunshot wounds, the Chief Medical Examiner said. (More)