By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Twenty-three health-care professionals are calling on Gov. Chris Sununu to oppose the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s choice for the high court, Amy Coney Barrett, for her previously stated position on abortion and fears she would punish providers of abortion.
Through a spokesman, Sununu has noted he has no role in the confirmation of Barrett, the 48-year-old circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, who was a former professor at Notre Dame and is the mother of seven young children.
She was tapped by President Trump to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court following the liberal jurist’s recent death after he promised supporters he would nominate jurists who would support his views against abortion.
The Oct. 13 letter signed by Dr. Robert Feder, MD of Hollis and 22 others, said they are “deeply concerned” by the nomination, which is now going through confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate.
They noted an Oct. 1 article in The Guardian which revealed that in 2006 Barrett and her husband, Jesse, signed on to an “open letter” by the anti-choice group St. Joseph County Right to Life which was published and it maintained that the signers support life which they believe begins at fertilization and ends at natural death.
The full-page ad, signed by hundreds and published in the South Bend (Indiana) Tribune in 2006, asked readers to “pray to end abortion.”
In testimony under questioning Tuesday by U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, Barrett said she signed that petition, which was published, when she was a private citizen as she was leaving the church. It was almost 15 years before she became a circuit court judge and she said it was at a time in her life when she was not a public official.
“So, while I was free to express my private views at that time, I don’t feel it is appropriate for me anymore because of the cannons of conduct to express an affirmative view at this point in time. But what that statement plainly says is that when I signed that statement that is what I was doing as a private citizen,” Barrett said.
Under later questioning by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Barrett admitted that she did not disclose the signing of the document when she was being considered for the circuit court as a judge. She said she did not recall signing it until recently.
Gov. Sununu, who supports Trump in his re-election bid, was among only four of the nation’s 28 Republican governors who did not sign on to support the confirmation of Judge Barrett. The other three Republican governors who declined to sign are Larry Hogan of Maryland, Phil Scott of Vermont, and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.
New Hampshire Public Radio reported that Sununu did sign letters of support for the confirmation of Trump’s two other nominees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Sununu has maintained that he supports the process of the Barrett nomination provided it is done civilly and within the law but he has not said he opposes Barrett.
The governor, who is running for re-election against pro-choice Democrat Dan Feltes, has maintained that he does not oppose abortion rights but does not support taxpayer-funded abortions nor does he support partial-birth abortions.
The letter, sent to Sununu Tuesday, said that his continued support of “the process to confirm Judge Barrett shows that you are putting politics ahead of the health and safety of the Granite State we serve each day,” as doctors, nurses, and health-care providers and professionals.
They cited his Aug. 7 veto of House Bill 685, the Reproductive Health Parity Act. The veto, the medical providers said, allows health insurers to restrict abortion access to thousands.
The New Hampshire health-care providers concluded that the “only way to stand up for women’s reproductive rights and health care in New Hampshire is for you to reverse your position immediately and unequivocally oppose Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.”
Ben Vihstadt, spokesman for the Sununu campaign, said “the Governor has repeatedly stated time and again, he would oppose any attempt at the state or federal level to repeal Roe v. Wade.” Trump has also said there would be no litmus test on the abortion issue for his Supreme Court nominees.
Roe v. Wade is the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the court found that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy without excessive government interference.
Opponents of the Barrett confirmation express concern that she would vote to overturn the decision based on her stated personal views.
She maintains that “judges are not policymakers,” and that she has made no promises to anyone to strike down Roe v. Wade if she becomes a Supreme Court justice, though she has not said whether she would recuse herself from such a vote.
But Trump has promised supporters he would put on the high bench judges who would strike down Roe.
Signing on to the letter, in addition to Dr. Feder are Karl Singer, MD, Kensington; Anne Chehade, MD, Hopkinton; Joseph Snow, MD, Concord; Wayne Goldner, MD, Bedford; Lyn Lindpaintner, MD, Concord; Laurie McCray, RN, MS, Portsmouth; Joyce Cappiello, Ph.D., FNP, Barrington; Rich Dipentima, RN, MPH, Portsmouth; Cynthia Bear, MD, Rye; Barbara Pamboukes, RN, MEd, Portsmouth; Gary York, MD, Hopkinton; Kristine Rogers Scherr, CNM, MSN, Portsmouth; Ellen Joyce, MD, Meriden; Christine Davis, MSW, Hopkinton; Frances Brokaw, MD, Hanover; Judy Wilbur-Albertson, LICSW, Portsmouth; Lisabeth Maloney, MD, MS, Hanover; BJ Entwisle, MD, Canterbury; Mindy Schorr, MS, RN, West Lebanon; Polly Campion, MS, RN, Etna and Ellen Bennett, PA-C, Greenland.