EXCLUSIVE: Over 100 back Van Ostern for Congress on reproductive rights platform

Former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern is announcing a 100-member reproductive freedom coalition, bolstering his bona fides on one of the top issues going into November. (Photo courtesy)

By Colin Booth

April 1, 2024

Fresh off his announcement as a candidate for New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District, former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern is announcing a 100+ member reproductive freedom coalition, bolstering his bona fides on one of the top issues going into November.

Dubbed “Van Ostern Voters for Reproductive Rights,” the list is a who’s who of Democratic activists and former and current elected leaders from across the state. Van Ostern looks to succeed Congresswoman Annie Kuster, who surprisingly announced her decision not to run for reelection last week.

Key supporters among those who signed on offered statements of support for Van Ostern, expressing confidence in his ability to defend reproductive rights in New Hampshire, which have been under constant threat by the Republicans in recent years.

Jenn-Alford Teaster, a Senior Research Scientist, and lecturer in The Dartmouth Institute of Health Policy and Clinical Practice wrote in her personal capacity in support of Van Ostern.

“As a mom, a woman, and a public health researcher, I know our reproductive freedoms are all on the line this fall,” said Jenn Alford-Teaster of Sutton. “I’m proud to join over 100 other NH women and leaders who are standing with Colin and committed to protecting equitable access to birth control, IVF, abortion, and the full range of reproductive health care. This is the coalition we need to win and protect our rights.”

Abortion has been one of if not the leading issue in elections in the state since the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe in 2022. That year Republicans in New Hampshire lost decisively in midterm elections where they were widely predicted on making gains.

Despite the losses, Republicans in the New Hampshire House and Senate have not given up on further restrictions. They spent this session attacking abortion rights, going so far as to put forward a 15-day abortion ban in the House, which has attracted national headlines for being one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country.

Legislators on the Republican side have also blocked Democratic efforts to codify abortion rights into the New Hampshire state law this year, leaving New Hampshire the only state in New England where abortion rights are not protected.

RELATED: Inside Kelly Ayotte’s long anti-abortion record

“The fight for women’s reproductive rights and women’s autonomy must be fought at every level of government, from Executive Council to the state house, in Congress and the voting booth,” said former State Senator Melanie Levesque of Brookline. “I know Colin Van Ostern shares these values and trust him to be our advocate in Washington.”

Van Ostern has a strong record on reproductive rights, having successfully twice restored funding at Planned Parenthood health centers after it was cut off by Republicans, and was previously named New Hampshire’s “Champion for Choice” by NARAL Pro-Choice NH, the organization now known as Reproductive Equity Now.

Among those on the list are Debby Butler of Concord, a well-known high-dollar fundraiser and bundler for Democratic candidates running in the state.

“I have known Colin for a long time. He understands that personal health decisions are just that,personal,” said Butler. “The government does not belong in that room with a woman and her doctor and her family. Colin trusts women, period.”

But some New Hampshire Democrats aren’t yet convinced, with one senior Democratic operative saying his absence in day-to-day politics has been noticed.

“I think for a lot of people in the state, a big part of leadership means showing up for folks through thick and thin — even when you’re not getting credit. But van Ostern will likely have a well crafted, poll tested response that hypes up his ‘entrepreneurial business experience.’”

While Van Ostern is the first candidate to announce and has a strong background on reproductive rights, he may have competition quickly, as other candidates with strong reproductive rights backgrounds are rumored to be announcing for the race imminently.

Senior Democratic strategists are predicting national organizations committed to electing women like EMILY’s List will back a woman candidate in a contested primary, not wanting to lose a seat with Congresswoman Kuster’s departure.

The full list of Van Ostern’s reproductive freedom coalition follows below:

Joining Van Ostern Voters for Reproductive Rights*:

Judith Ackerson, Franklin

Jenn Alford-Teaster, Sutton

Stephanie Alicea, Boscawen

Former State Representative Caroletta Alicea, Boscawen

Gloria Andrews, Chichester

Amy Bairstow, Concord

Lilly Bairstow, Concord

Hon. Christy Bartlett, Concord

Barbara Blue, Hudson

School Board Member Liz Boucher, Concord

Ryan Burke, Concord

Hon. Jean Burling, Cornish

Debby Butler, Concord

School Board Member Jessica Campbell, Concord

Hon. Lorrie Carey, Concord

Leslie Casey, Sullivan

Alice Chamberlin, Warner

Melissa Chapman, Antrim

Hon. Cynthia Chase, Keene

Ellen Clement, Westmoreland

Tanna Clews, Statewide Leader

Gena Cohen-Moses, Concord

Ayla Cordell, West Chesterfield

Tara Chynoweth, Statewide Leader

Lynne Delise Schiffman, New London

Clara Dietel, Concord

Anne Thomas Donaghy, Plainfield

Alfrieda (Dita) Englund, Munsonville

Martha Evelyn, Sugar Hill

Caitlin Fennessy, Concord

Hon. Susan Ford, Easton

Hon. Elaine H French, Littleton

Hon. Martha Fuller Clark, Statewide Leader

Ann Garland, Lebanon

Jeanne Gerulskis, Bow

Allison Grappone, Concord

Christine Hanisco, Concord

Lindsay Hanson, Contoocook

Stephanie Harris, Claremont

Rebecca Harris, Francestown

Sue Hay, Keene

Joyce Healy, Munsonville

Maureen Heath, Bow

Former State Senator Martha Hennessey, Hanover

Peggy Herbert, Hopkinton

Elizabeth Hitchcock, Statewide Leader

Jean W Hoffman, Sullivan

Betsy Holcombe, Sugar Hill

Beverly Houghton, Hanover

Joan Jacobs, Statewide Leader

Deborah Jadczak, Concord

Sally J Jensen, Campton

Emily Karmen, Warner

Sally Keating, New London

Karina Kelley, Deerfield

Alderwoman Shoshanna Kelly, Nashua

Mary Lou Krambeer, Bethlehem

City Councilor Judith Kurtz, Concord

Carola Lea, Hanover

Rosalind Lee, Hanover

Former State Senator Melanie Levesque, Brookline

Anne Lovett, Holderness

Britt Lundgren, New Boston

Sumathi Madhure, Nashua

State Representative Latha Mangipudi, Nashua

Amy Markus, Hancock

Lucretia Martin, Hanover

State Representative Linda Massimilla, Littleton

Kathleen McAllister, Concord

Nancy McGartland, Keene

Hon. Martha McLeod, Franconia

Gail McPeek, Enfield

Amy Metcalf, Contoocook

Teresa Moler, Nashua

Deb Nelson, Hanover

Rep. Frances Nutter-Upham, Nashua

Ruth Perencevich, Concord

Maria Petagna, Concord

Betsy Phillips, Bethlehem

Liz-Anne Platt, Concord

Felicity Pool, Dublin

Hon. Marjorie Porter, Hillsborough

Tina Preston, Concord

Sonia Prince, Nashua

Former State Senator Deborah Reynolds, Plymouth

Hon. Martha Richards, Holderness

Hannah Robinson, Hopkinton

Anne Saunders, Concord

Valerie Scarborough, Plymouth

Jill Schiffman, Hanover

Christa Scura, Contoocook

Karen Sebastian, West Chesterfield

Laura Simoes, Concord

Emma Sisti, Concord

JoAnne St.John, Nashua

State Representative Laurel Stavis, Lebanon

Alice Stewart, Concord

Erin Stewart, Concord

Caroline Storrs, Cornish

State Representative Linda Tanner, Sunapee

Gale Taylor, Concord

Hon. Kathleen Taylor, Franconia

Meredith Telus, Concord

Katharine Terie, Littleton

Kristyn Van Ostern, Concord

Jane VanBremen, New London

Stephanie Weiner, Lancaster

Hon. Joyce Weston, Plymouth

Suzi White, Franklin

Maura Willing, Concord

Ruth Zax, Henniker

*All of these voters are supporting in their personal capacity

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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