New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee 107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301
February 9, 2022
RE: Oppose HB 1625
New Hampshire Section
Dear Chairman Gordon, VChairman McLean, and members of the Committee:
On behalf of the New Hampshire Section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) we respectfully oppose HB 1625 as ill-advised, ill-timed, and discounting of the fear and intimidation faced by clinicians who provide abortion care.
Repealing this law flouts the fact that across the United States, most abortion clinics report harassment, which can include picketing, picketing with physical contact or blocking, vandalism, picketing of homes of staff members, bomb threats, harassing phone calls, noise disturbances, taking photos or videos of patients and staff, tampering with garbage, placing glue in locks or nails on the driveway of clinics, breaking windows, interfering with phone lines, approaching cars, and recording license plates. Clinicians who provide abortion care also have been directly targeted with death threats, other threats of harm, and stalking, among other violent acts. Since 1993, anti-abortion violence has led to 11 murders and 26 attempted murders.
ACOG members and our clinician colleagues have treated patients who were alarmed, scared, intimidated, and have increased anxiety after encountering non-scientific information and scare tactics outside of these clinics while seeking health care. Harassment at the entrance to reproductive health facilities not only imposes an obstacle to patients’ ability to access both reproductive and other health care, but also exacerbates other existing access constraints and anxieties.
Access to abortion care is already limited by distance, cost, structural inequities and other factors for too many in our state. Encountering harassment when entering clinics imposes yet another barrier that restricts our patients’ ability to obtain needed health services promptly and safely.
Providers of reproductive health care have endured hostility and aggression for decades. The rhetoric behind this legislation belies the frightening reality that doctors, health care professionals, clinic staff and patients face every day. It also casually ignores a the context of our current moment - the growing trend of threats, intimidation, and persecution directed at the medical community, fueled by anti- science rhetoric and dangerous misinformation, has become pervasive across the spectrum of care, shaking the foundation of our health care infrastructure. Health care professionals are facing fear and grappling with burnout. This legislation sends a signal to obstetrician-gynecologists and colleagues across specialties that using intimidation to undermine access to and provision of care, according to our medical training and professional obligations, is acceptable, and that the clinicians and patients targeted are not worthy of public safety and safe and essential care.
Ellen Joyce, MD, FACOG
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists