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“Don’t Touch” Issues

Several issues are recognized as contentious, and some have been considered “don’t touch” at some point in time during the NHLA’s existence. Abortion is currently the only such issue. See the history section below for background.

Abortion

The Board recognizes that there are two conflicting pro-liberty arguments on this issue.
  • Women own their own bodies and have the fundamental right to make decisions about them; any attempt to prohibit that freedom is anti-liberty.
  • A developing human in the womb is an individual with the same rights as its mother that may not be infringed without due process of law or in self-defense.
Accordingly, the NHLA will not take an official position on proposed legislation that would:
  • Prohibit, limit, expand or increase a woman’s ability to have an abortion.
  • Establish rights for developing humans in the womb.
However, legislation tangential to these two positions, including changes to the amount of government regulations on abortion, further licensing, fees, etc. on clinics that provide abortions, or the use of government funds (taxpayer money) to pay for abortions, may be supported or opposed depending on how they advance or reduce liberty.

Contentious Issues

The following issues are recognized as being polarizing, and may have been considered “don’t touch” in the past, but are now considered just like any other issue. See the “History” section below for more detail.

Marriage

The Board recognizes that adults have the free, inalienable right to contract with one another without government interference and any attempt from the state to further regulate, limit, or prohibit this fundamental right is anti-liberty. Therefore, it is the NHLA’s position on the subject of marriage to remove all government regulations, licensing, fees, etc. from the institution of marriage and leave it to the discretion of individuals, their families, and faiths.

Death Penalty

The Board has concluded that bills affecting this issue will be treated just like any other bill. See Death Penalty History below.

Assisted Suicide

The Board recognizes that adults have the fundamental right to make decisions regarding their own bodies whether it be smoking, drinking alcohol, eating trans fats, buckling a seatbelt, wearing a helmet, or choosing to end their pain and suffering from a terminal condition by the request of medication that would enable them to control the time, place, and manner of their inevitable death. Therefore, it is the NHLA’s position on this issue to continue supporting proposed legislation that protects individuals’ rights based on the core principle of self-ownership.

Illegal Immigration and Right To Work

The Board has concluded that bills containing these issues will be treated just like any other bill.

History

In May 2010, the NHLA Board of Directors met with members at an open forum in Manchester to hear thoughts and concerns regarding our organization’s informal “Don’t Touch Issues” policy. There were over 30 people in attendance, with many having traveled great distances to be heard. The level of respect and professionalism displayed was impressive. Feedback on this matter was also solicited via email input from the membership for 2½ months. Over 35 members wrote in expressing their thoughts, all of which were reviewed by the Board. Many of those who were unable to attend the meeting had their comments read aloud by a Board member. The Board would like to thank all of the members who took time to provide input on this matter. After reviewing all of the comments offered by members and spending a great deal of time deliberating, the Board has come to the conclusion that taking the pro-liberty position on pending legislation where a controversial topic might be involved is in line with our mission statement of “A non-partisan coalition working to increase individual freedom in New Hampshire.” By stating the pro-liberty position clearly and consistently, even on issues that may be uncomfortable to some (as demonstrated with medical marijuana), the NHLA will stand as a beacon for the principled reduction of government and for the growth of freedom in New Hampshire. We certainly understand the emotion and contentiousness of certain issues and will continue to use discretion when considering public comment thereon. Our support or opposition on future bills will continue to be based on a number of factors, including the impact on liberty, the cost of the legislation to taxpayers, and the clarity of the liberty principle involved. The Board feels that no issue involving the restriction or regulation of New Hampshire citizens’ liberties is inherently a “Don’t Touch” issue. However, in some cases, where the principle of liberty can be argued for or against the legislative proposal, the Board will remain neutral. It is on these case-by-case circumstances that the decision to take a position is to be entrusted to the discretion of the Board. Therefore, the Board has decided, by unanimous vote, to not have a formal “Don’t Touch Issues” policy at that time. As for the issues discussed at the DTI summit, the Board reached the following conclusions:
  • Abortion: The only remaining “don’t touch” issue – see above.
  • Marriage: See above.
  • Death Penalty: No longer considered a “don’t touch” issue. See below for the history.
  • Assisted Suicide: See above.
  • Illegal Immigration and Right To Work: See above.

Death Penalty History

The board’s original position on the death penalty was the following:
The Board recognizes that there are two, conflicting pro-liberty arguments on this issue.
  • People have the right to be secure in their community from extremely violent, duly convicted persons of heinous crimes and the death penalty could be considered an extension of self-defense.
  • The state has no right to take a life.
Accordingly, the NHLA will not take an official position on proposed legislation that would:
  • Repeal the death penalty.
  • Focus almost exclusively on expanding the death penalty.
However, legislation tangential to these two positions, such as a larger crime bill in which the death penalty is just a small part of the underlying legislation, or expansion of the number and types of crimes punishable by the death penalty, may be supported or opposed depending on how they advance or reduce liberty.
In late 2015 / early 2016, some NHLA members felt the question of the death penalty was due for reexamination. Not only had the composition of the NHLA membership changed over the previous five years, but attitudes regarding the death penalty in general had also been shifting. At this time, New Hampshire has one convict on death row, but had no existing facilities to execute him. Some felt construction of such a facility would be cost prohibitive. Questions also remained about the availability of lethal injection drugs, making death by hanging the only other option for execution in New Hampshire. In 2014 a state-wide discussion took place on the topic of eliminating the death penalty, during which the NHLA remained silent. The state legislature came within one vote in the Senate of abolishing executions, replacing it with death in prison (life without parole). In 2016 the question of expanding the death penalty was raised in HB1552. In Dec. 2015 and Jan. 2016, the NHLA surveyed its membership via our monthly newsletter, social media, and an email survey that was sent to all current members, soliciting members’ input on this issue. Based on our members’ feedback, and after extensive discussion at multiple Board meetings, the Board voted at its Jan. 9th monthly meeting to remove the death penalty from this list of “don’t touch” issues. After this date, the Gold Standard team would review current and future legislation on death penalty-related issues and might issue a formal position.