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Michelle Cilley Foisy Testimony in Support of HB 88

Good morning Mr. Chair and House Judiciary Committee members,

My name is Michelle Cilley Foisy. I live in Temple and I am here today to support HB 88, the Access to Abortion-care Act. 

A year ago I told my daughter Kayla’s story, our abortion story, for the first time in public in this very room in support of HB 1609 - to add a fatal fetal diagnosis exception to our state’s abortion ban. I spoke of being a mother of seven children, including my daughter Kayla who I lost 18 years ago due to a fatal fetal anomaly. Our abortion was at 22 weeks. 

Heading in for our routine ultrasound at 21 weeks, we were filled with joy and excitement for the new addition to our family. Our 2 and ½ year old was with us that day and thrilled about becoming a big sister. We did not receive good news on that day, December 5, 2005. On December 10, Kayla was delivered stillborn after our termination the day before. As we held her in our arms for several hours, we said goodbye to the little girl that we continue to love with all of our hearts and will for a lifetime. Kayla was found to have a deletion in her 15th chromosome that was not detected until after our abortion. Our amniocentesis results returned a month after our termination when I would have been 26 weeks pregnant. This timeline is the reason that I began to tell our story in support of the fatal fetal anomaly amendment added to the abortion ban instituted last year. It is clear that in these incredible complex situations, decisions should be left to a pregnant person and their doctor. 

I have learned a great deal over the course of this past year. I have heard other Granite Staters’ abortion stories. Our experiences are varied but every one of us deserved the right to make our own personal, private health care decisions. That’s why I am here today - to urge you to protect the right to an abortion, before 24 weeks, in state law. 

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer, our country’s reproductive health care landscape has been in disarray. One in three American women have lost the right to abortion in their home state. While abortion remains safe and legal in New Hampshire before 24 weeks, we are the only state in New England without a proactive protection for abortion rights. Granite Staters are now susceptible out-of-state attacks on their health care. In New Hampshire we don’t let other states dictate our rights. That’s not the 603 way. 

I did not make the decision to have an abortion with ease, nor uninformed. Though we had only hours to make our decision, those hours were filled with gathering information and asking many questions. In the days that followed, I continued to look for answers and together with my physicians, we made the best decision for our family. Not once did I look to my state legislators for advice, opinions, or medical knowledge, I trusted in my physician's expertise and the information that we had. 

New Hampshire women are capable of making thoughtful decisions about their own health care in consultation with their loved ones, faith, and medical providers - as they see fit. New Hampshire’s elected officials should not turn their backs on our state’s tradition of trusting women to make these decisions. In face of national uncertainty, you have the ability to take proactive action to ensure abortion remains safe and legal in New Hampshire, before 24 weeks. I urge you to support HB 88. Thank you for your time.