EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 7, 2013

Letter: Republicans seek to roll back protections for women

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — To the editor:

On both the federal and state levels, the assault on women’s rights and safety is continuing — aggressively.

On the federal level, the Republicans are still blocking the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act. This legislation had passed on a bipartisan votes for years. Now, the Republicans continue to block its renewal? Why? There is nothing that can justify the congressional Republicans actions on this issue.

In New Hampshire on Feb. 6, the House Criminal Justice Committee held a hearing on two bills sponsored by Republicans that are designed to greatly weaken New Hampshire’s domestic violence laws.

Under HB 502, police would be severely restricted in their ability to arrest suspected abusers, as the bill would require a police officer to have either personally witnessed the abuse, or the victim to have filed a criminal complaint. Under current law, police are empowered to arrest a suspected abuser if they have probable cause to believe that abuse has occurred.

Unbelievably, HB 503 goes even further, only allowing an officer to make an arrest if a criminal complaint has been filed, and specifically excluding previous language that allowed an officer to make an arrest if they witnessed the assault.

If either of these bills were to pass, a police officer who is called to a report of domestic violence and sees a victim who has been assaulted and bleeding would not be able to arrest the abuser unless the officer first went to a judge and obtained a warrant.

This is unconscionable in the United States of America in the year 2013. This is putting women back to the dark ages when they were property and traded in arranged marriages and had no rights.

We must speak out and let our representatives know that they will not get our vote if they vote for these laws.

Dee Lewis