Their efforts to make the red-tailed hawk the official state raptor are met with derision – and a lesson on abortion

By Tim Nudd
Updated March 20, 2015 02:50 PM
Credit: Jim Cole/AP; Inset: Cal Vornberger/Getty

When you take a group of fourth-graders to the state legislature, you expect them to learn a thing or two about politics.

And boy, did these kids in New Hampshire ever learn a lesson.

Students from Lincoln H. Akerman School in Hampton Falls traveled to Concord last week to see if a bill they had written and gotten sponsored – to make the red-tailed hawk the official state raptor – would pass the House of Representatives.

Things quickly went downhill from there, reports WMUR-TV.

The bill quickly met resistance – and was eventually defeated by a 160-133 vote – with Rep. Warren Groen (R-Rochester) criticizing the choice of bird and referencing abortion as he did so.

“It grasps [its prey] with its talons and then uses its razor-sharp beak to rip its victims to shreds, to basically tear it apart limb by limb. And I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood,” Groen said.

Other legislators said the bill was silly and that the state would probably soon be naming an official hot dog.

School principal Mark Deblois said those remarks were more traumatizing to the kids than the abortion reference. “Obviously, they were disappointed that their bill didn’t pass, but it was just the manner in which they say the bill was debated, when they saw people stand up and say these just appalling things,” Deblois said.

The abortion reference “was probably less than the gentlemen who stood up and made jokes,” he added. “They understood those references. ‘Why didn’t they take us seriously? Why were people laughing?’ ”

Groen brushed off his critics, pointing out that children are watching from the gallery every day. “I don’t know if we should limit free speech or limit the attendance in the gallery,” he said. “It seems either one would be bad for transparency in government.”

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