A Granite State of Mind: Erosion of women’s rights & bipartisanship on NH’s Executive Council

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O P I N I O N

THE SOAPBOX

Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.


An archaic but useful leftover of colonial government, the Executive Council was designed to function as a democratic check and balance against the king’s appointed governor — and later, governors who act like kings. They also approve all spending contracts, doing so in the interests of a non-partisan, public majority.

For once, I find little fault with Governor Sununu or his often nepotistic leanings, but what I witnessed at the last Council meeting amounted to an outright declaration of war on basic liberal values, bipartisanship, and many very real, individual human beings.

Obstructionism and logical incoherence were on full display — even when urged by their own party’s governor to exercise basic reason or humanity—when Councilors, including my own Councilor Mr. Ted Gatsas, chose to impose their personal political agendas on the people of New Hampshire, defunding three family planning health facilities.

At one point, Councilor David Wheeler shrugged off the results of an audit proving that no federal or state taxpayer dollars went to fund abortion procedures. Instead, he obsessed over lightbulbs and receptionists for which these funds are not even billed, a spectacle in senility I have not witnessed since hearing either our past or current president strive, and fail, to make words.

According to him, “it didn’t feel like a real audit.”

Gatsas’s reason for voting “no” on women’s healthcare even as he continued to couch himself in fraudulent “pro-choice” terms was a seemingly septuagenarian concern that teenage girls should not have access to Plan B, the emergency contraceptive. While his tone smacked with paternalistic condescension, may I ask in what universe can denying girls or women of any age contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies OR  future abortions be logically justified as pro-choice?

Beyond the obvious insensitivity to the needs of young women in instances of assault, family abuse, or other situations where any logical person would deduce that 65+-year-old men should have absolutely no opinion, I would remind both anti-choice Councilors that while we both create and are responsible for our children, including our daughters, we do not own their bodies.

I hope if mine should ever find herself in a compromised situation as a teenager, and heaven forbid does not trust me or her mother enough to confide, she damn sure better have equal access to the contraception or healthcare that she needs, regardless of my opinion.

Families are not protectorate satellites made up of the patriarchy and his property, whether that patriarch is an ex-mayor of Manchester, a Christmas tree farmer, or a single working dad.

Families and relationships are made up of individuals that include women, not just political special interest groups—sisters, mothers, aunts and daughters, friends, partners and lovers of every gender, religion, sexual and political orientation. They deserve the same constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and bodily autonomy as men. Equality means it is not our right as men, or politicians’, to dictate women’s rights. Pretty simple.

Worth noting, in New Hampshire’s last legislative session, a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing and protecting individual reproductive freedom for both men and women was tabled, and not without irony, aborted without a vote on the floor.

Plan B contraception is already available to young women over the counter, while the specialized care provided by Planned Parenthood, Equality Health Center, and Joan G. Lovering Health Center require physician counseling prior to prescription.

As Councilor Cinde Warmington highlighted, the irresponsibility and callousness of the Council in defunding these centers will not only hurt our fellow female citizens’ bodies and health, it will literally cause the very same unplanned pregnancies and abortions Councilors Wheeler and Gatsas hope to prevent.

Two Simple Facts:

  • If you believe in a girl or woman’s right to control their own body, you fund Planned Parenthood.
  • If you are against abortion procedures and wish to reduce the frequency with which they occur, you fund Planned Parenthood.

If this anti-libertarian attack on women and fundamental absence of common sense were not enough, we are now also facing hyper-partisan redistricting that will rob the Executive Council districts of competitive, bipartisanship constituencies, further weakening any check on the Governor’s authority.

If the Senate approves the new districts as proposed, Keene will be removed from District 5, rendering what is consistently a competitive, politically diverse district into a permanent Republican seat, effectively nullifying Nashua and Keene, and every Democratic and Undeclared voter who lives there.

Across congressional, senate and house districts statewide, it appears the new de facto model for the GOP is to fence Democratic majority towns into manageable fiefdoms, pre-determining future elections.

When did Republicans get so scared of free competition?

It is time for our leaders, Republican, Democratic, and Independent alike, to speak against the planned destruction of our fair, competitive districts, districts both Republicans and Democrats have won fair and square in recent years, often by close margins of victory between 1-8 percent. 1st Congressional District, Senate District 9, and Executive Council Districts 1, 4, and 5, come to mind.

I would urge all New Hampshire voters to contact not just their Executive Councilors, but their State Senators, State Representatives, and their Governor.

Implore them to change their minds on women’s reproductive freedom and Planned Parenthood, on basic human rights, and for the future electoral integrity of our powerful but rapidly eroding Granite State.

Contact your Executive Councilors:

Ted.Gatsas@nh.gov

Office: (603) 623-0211

David.K.Wheeler@nh.gov

(603) 672-6062

Joseph.D.Kenney@nh.gov

Cell: (603) 581-8780

Janet.L.Stevens@nh.gov

Cell: (603) 498-0546

Cinde.Warmington@nh.gov

Cell: (603) 387-0481

Contact Fellow Voters & State Reps. to Prevent Gerrymandered Districts:

Matt Mooshian, 603Forward

matt@603forward.org

Note: 603Forward is a non-profit organization dedicated to amplifying new leaders who run for office in New Hampshire, as well as encouraging more eligible young people to vote.


About this Author

michaelstrand

Michael Strand

Bedford Resident of 2 years; NH resident of 7 years; father; former activist; published poet; local business leader in staffing/recruiting industry;prospective candidate for something.