My name is Jean Brown and I live in Hanover. I am contacting you today to share my story as you consider multiple bills that would impact the delivery of reproductive, maternal, and neonatal health care in our state.
In 1991, I was 39 years old and I had an abortion. I discovered at the 20-week mark, with the amniocentesis, that due to a chromosomal abnormality the fetus would not live outside of the womb. It was actually no decision for me. I did not want to carry a baby that was then going to die. I wanted an abortion. And I was able to get that care.
I was glad to see the New Hampshire Legislature work together last year to add an exception for fatal fetal diagnoses to the state’s new 24-week abortion ban. This move certainly reduced some of the harm caused by the ban, however, I remain concerned that it still prohibits care for some women who need it. And I think it is reprehensible that the law threatens doctors with jail time and fines for doing their jobs and working to provide the most appropriate, evidence-based care to their patients.
The thought, now, that women may be facing the inability to have an abortion that is medically or emotionally necessary is devastating. My body might have been okay if I continued the pregnancy and delivered a stillborn baby, but I would not have been emotionally willing to go through the experience. At the base of it, however, is the right of a woman to control her body. God forbid a woman has a miscarriage and needs a D&C but is too frightened to get one since she and her doctor could face criminal penalties. It is inappropriate for a state governing body to set itself up as a medical expert in the field of reproductive health. That is imposing a religious tenet that has no business in government. I do not want to live in a “theocracy.”
I am forever grateful I was able to make the most appropriate decision for me, for my body, for my family, (a few months after my abortion I was able to conceive a healthy baby boy who is now turning 31). Every woman should have that same care. That’s why I’m urging you to support HB 224 and HB 271, to repeal the criminal and civil penalties from the state’s 24-week abortion ban and to repeal it in its entirety. Pregnancy is just too complicated and unpredictable for one-size-fits-all laws.
With my story in mind, I am also urging you to reject HB 346, which would dictate care for women and families who are faced with complex situations in which they know their baby will not survive. While I chose to end my pregnancy knowing my baby could not survive, I support others who would choose to continue their pregnancy, to hold out hope of meeting their wanted child if only for a moment. Families should not be forced by the State to let go of their child, to give up precious bonding time. Babies should not be forced by the State to endure only a life of pain without the tender care and touch of their parents. Doctors should not be forced by the State to deny families options or to administer futile care that will not change the outcome.
Being able to have an abortion is about making private decisions best for a woman and her family. It’s their business. No one else’s. The fear mongering that is going on is unacceptable.
Women in these situations deserve support and options. Doctors deserve our trust and respect. I appreciate your time and your service. Thank you for considering my testimony