My name is Dr. Emily Zajano and I am here to ask you to support HB 224, to repeal the criminal and civil penalties from New Hampshire’s current 24-week abortion ban.
The current law singles out medical providers who have the training and expertise to provide abortion care later in a pregnancy. There is no other profession that the state has criminalized. This law is an invitation for further intimidation and harassment against these medical professionals and has a chilling effect across the health care landscape in New Hampshire. We have seen this reality play out across the country.
There is a significant shortage of health care providers already, and specifically in labor and delivery. Every couple of years, for the last 20 years, hospitals in NH have been closing down their labor and delivery units. There are “obstetrical deserts” in our state, and as nearly 200 providers said when the original abortion ban was adopted, criminalizing the profession for providing evidenced-based care will exacerbate difficulties in recruiting and retaining critical OB/GYN providers.
While I appreciate that last year the legislature moved to direct more money to hospitals to continue offering birthing services, that will not help New Hampshire families if there are not enough physicians with expertise to care for families in those units.
The people proposing these laws have likely never been in a room when a woman has to hear her baby won’t survive – or that continuing a pregnancy could put her life in danger – or that there is unfortunately nothing that can be done to save a baby. I have been on both sides of those discussions. It is devastating – for the patient and the medical team. The discussion and ultimate decision isn’t taken lightly. The people of NH trust their doctors to offer sound medical advice. The state legislature needs to do the same.
I urge you to support HB 224 and end the criminalization of New Hampshire’s capable and trusted doctors.