HB 591: Prohibiting abortions after detection of fetal heartbeat.
Committee: House Judiciary
Date: February 16
HB 591 is an attempt to pass a near-total abortion ban in New Hampshire. Access to safe, legal abortion is overwhelmingly supported by the majority of Americans and the vast majority of Granite Staters. Access to abortion is a core component of social and economic equality and is crucial for individual liberty, dignity, equality, and privacy.
HB 591 is extreme: it bans abortion before most people even know they are pregnant, therefore making almost all abortion illegal in 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 – around six weeks. This bill would take away a person’s right to make their own medical decisions before they even know they have a decision to make.
We are already seeing the devastating impact of abortion bans like this one in the eight months since Roe was overturned.
The overturning of Roe has caused chaos and confusion in this country, even in states where abortion is legal. This country is currently a patchwork of abortion rights. As of January 2023, abortion is currently banned or nearly totally banned in 14 states (with more in court) and 66 health centers in 15 states have stopped providing abortion care, many of them closing down all together. One in three Americans no longer have access to legal abortion in their home state. The increase in abortion bans throughout the country has exacerbated people’s need to navigate multiple barriers (like finding and arranging travel to states where abortion is legal) and creates further delays to care. Even where abortion is legal and available, like in New Hampshire, there is an increase of out-of-state patients, which has created longer wait times for appointments. And it’s not just abortion: the overturning of Roe has been a disaster for the entire spectrum of reproductive care, including prenatal care and miscarriage management.
This bill endangers the health and lives of Granite Staters 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 591 could create a legal quagmire for any doctor who needed to provide medical care to a patient if that care might endanger an ongoing pregnancy. A patient experiencing a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy may need emergency treatment to prevent serious damage to her health or to save their life. This legislation would effectively tie doctors’ hands rather than allow them to treat their patients without fear of prosecution.
Abortion bans are deeply unpopular across the country, especially here in New Hampshire.
Poll after poll makes clear that Americans want abortion to be safe and legal. 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. Support for abortion rights in New Hampshire is higher than almost anywhere else in the country, and the majority of Americans think the overturning of Roe v. Wade was the wrong decision. The vast majority of people, especially Granite Staters, believe that personal, private medical decisions should be between a woman and her doctor, not politicians. Americans are much more united on this issue than divisive rhetoric would make it seem.
Lower-income people 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. In contrast, when given access to abortion, women’s health outcomes and economic security improve. Women living in states with policies that support access to the full range of reproductive health care, such as New Hampshire, have higher earnings and are more integrated into the workforce than women in other states. In contrast, according to the Turnaway Study, denying a woman an abortion creates economic hardships and insecurities which last for years.
WE URGE A VOTE OF “INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE” ON HB 591
For more information contact:
Kayla Montgomery, VP of Public Affairs
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 5 health centers in Derry, Exeter, Keene, Manchester and White River Junction, VT. Last year we saw more than 10,000 patients at these sites. 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