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Michelle Cilley Foisy Testimony in Support of HB 271

Good afternoon Mr.Chair and House Judiciary Committee,

My name is Michelle Cilley Foisy. I live in Temple and I am here today in support of HB 271, repealing the fetal life protection act. 

Before telling my daughter Kayla’s abortion story at 22 weeks due to a fatal fetal anomaly to the New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee last February, I had never told our story in public. Over the last year I have had the honor of meeting people from all over the state while advocating for reproductive rights. Through my own storytelling, I have in turn heard many stories of abortion. Stories of relief for their life and future ahead after having an abortion, stories of loss of dearly wanted pregnancies, and stories of self love after enduring a horrifying sexual assault. On this journey I have learned that Granite Staters overwhelmingly believe in and support legal and safe accessible abortions for all, but New Hampshire’s abortion ban puts politicians between patients and providers.

Eighteen years ago as I sat with my husband in the perinatologist’s office, we were devastated by the news we had just received. We learned that our second child, who we desperately wanted, had no chance of surviving outside of my body due to her fatal anomalies. Though my heart was crushed, I felt the most incredible compassion and empathy from our medical provider. Listening to him explain our options with the patience and understanding he exemplified with us on that day is something I will never forget. The relationship we developed in a very short amount of time was a bond I cannot describe and a trust that cannot be felt without living the experience itself. Without my provider's expertise, I firmly believe my life would not be as it is today as a mother of six living children. A medical provider that has the burden to share the horrible news that a wanted pregnancy will not have the outcome once dreamed of, deserves compassion as well. All medical professionals enter the world of medicine with the desire to help others and as their oath states, to do no harm. New Hampshire’s abortion ban criminalizes doctors for doing their job and working with their patients to get the care they need, just as my doctor did on that fateful day. 

As a person who has had an abortion later in pregnancy, I understand the complexity of reproductive health care. Families in New Hampshire can face harrowing circumstances and may have to make difficult choices. Letting Kayla go from the body that was not able to sustain her life outside of mine was our way of setting her soul free. For me and my family, choosing abortion was a true act of love. Last year, the New Hampshire Legislature took an important step to mitigate some of the harm caused by the state’s abortion ban, adding an exception for fatal fetal diagnoses. However, all patients, including survivors of sexual assault, deserve access to abortion care. Studies show that survivors of rape, incest, and sexual assault can experience delayed decision making due to trauma. HB 271 removes barriers to care for patients who should not need to disclose their personal circumstances within an arbitrary time limit. Granite Staters know what’s best for their lives and they must have the freedom and privacy to make decisions about their pregnancy in consultation with their medical providers and families. I urge you to support HB 271. Thank you for your time.


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