HB 1477: prohibiting abortions after detection of fetal heartbeat.
Committee: House Judiciary
Date: February 9, 2022
HB 1477 is an extreme near-total ban on abortion in the state of New Hampshire. For those with regular menstruation cycles, this bill would stop access to safe, legal abortion only two weeks after a missed period. Most people have very few signs of pregnancy – if any – at six weeks, meaning that this bill would ban abortion before many women know they are pregnant. Put another way: this bill would take away a patient’s right to make their own medical decisions before she even knows she has a decision to make.
We don’t have to imagine a world where abortion is banned to see the real-life consequences of this legislation. Texas has had a ban on abortion after approximately 6 weeks in effect since September 1. In Texas, patients also face a host of other unnecessary obstacles to accessing care, such as a 24-hour mandatory delay law. These politician-imposed hurdles combined with the fact that many people will not know they are pregnant at six weeks and that even those who do know may need time to raise the funds to pay for their procedure, take time off work or school, and find childcare for the children they already have, means that accessing abortion care in Texas has become nearly impossible for far too many people. Those who cannot get care in state are left to choose between carrying a pregnancy to term against their will, self-managing their abortion without supervision from a health care provider, or traveling across state lines, which is financially and practically out of reach for many. Those who do have the means to travel out of state are being met with overloaded health centers in border states. This creates a domino effect, leading to border state residents being forced to endure long delays for care and, in some instances, because of the decreased availability of appointments, then also being forced out of state for care -- ultimately, creating chaos for individual patients, and for the region.
Like the law in Texas, HB 1477 would push Granite Staters out of state to get care - if they can afford it – and would leave those who are unable to travel with only terrible alternatives. Sending patients out of state is completely unnecessary, and forcing a person to carry a pregnancy against their will is callous and dangerous. Abortion providers have been operating safely in this state for decades. This bill will not provide any benefit to patients; it will only cause harm.
People with low incomes and people of color are among those disproportionately affected by abortion bans. Policies that limit access to the full range of reproductive health services exacerbate the racial and ethnic disparities in health care that exist in every state.
The cost of an abortion is an average of $550 at 10 weeks. Traveling out of state means patients would have to find money to pay for transportation, negotiate time away from work or school and arrange childcare to cover the multiple days of travel to obtain the abortion. These burdens fall especially hard on patients who are already experiencing difficulties in making ends meet. Furthermore, being denied access to a wanted abortion has been shown to quadruple the odds of the patient and her child living in poverty going forward. In contrast, women living in states with policies that support access to abortion care, have higher earnings and are more integrated into the workforce than women in other states. And access to reproductive health care has also been linked to reduced unemployment gaps between jobs.
Abortion bans are deeply unpopular in New Hampshire and across the country. HB 1477 is wildly out of step with Granite State values - New Hampshire is one of the strongest supporters of abortion rights in the country. Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of Americans support access to safe, legal abortion - support for Roe v Wade is at an all-time high of 77%, and that includes a majority of Republicans. Politicians who try to block access to abortion are not only on the wrong side of reproductive justice, they are also on the wrong side of public opinion. The vast majority of people, especially Granite Staters, believe that personal, private medical decisions should be between a patient and their doctor - not politicians. Americans are much more united on this issue than divisive rhetoric would make it seem.
HB 1477 is unconstitutional. HB 1477 is a blatant violation of nearly five decades of Supreme Court precedent, and it flies in the face of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey -- currently the law of the land. Banning abortion at six weeks remains unconstitutional. The litigation against Texas’s unconstitutional ban remains ongoing, and it remains in effect based on purely procedural decisions. In fact, the only court to have considered the law’s constitutionality found that it was “flagrantly unconstitutional.”
This bill endangers women’s health and lives by interfering with a doctor’s ability to treat a pregnant patient who is suffering a medical condition, be it a miscarriage or even something not related to her pregnancy. HB 1477 could create a legal quagmire for any doctor who needed to provide medical care to a pregnant woman if that care might endanger an ongoing pregnancy. A woman experiencing a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy may need emergency treatment to prevent serious damage to her health or to save her life. This legislation would effectively tie doctors’ hands rather than allowing them to treat their patient without fear of prosecution.
Access to abortion is a core component of women’s social and economic equality and is crucial for individual liberty, dignity, equality, and privacy. WE URGE A VOTE OF “INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE” ON HB 1477.
For more information contact: [email protected] VP of Public Affairs
 Miller, Sarah, et al. The Economic Consequences of Being Denied an Abortion, NBER Working Paper, No. 26662 (January 2020), https://www.nber.org/papers/w26662.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) is the largest provider of reproductive and sexual health care across the State of New Hampshire. We serve New Hampshire residents through 6 health centers in Claremont, Derry, Exeter, Keene, Manchester and White River Junction, VT. Last year we saw more than 10,000 patients at these sites. In November, PPNNE was named a 2021 Guardian of Excellence Award® winner by Press Ganey, the national leader in health care consumer and workforce engagement. Press Ganey recognizes PPNNE as a top-performing health care organization, achieving the 95th percentile or above for performance in patient experience, out of more than 20,000 medical practices. Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund (PPNHAF) is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.