HB 88: relative to reproductive rights.
Committee: House Judiciary
Date: February 15, 2023
Last year, the Access to Abortion-care Act was introduced with the anticipation – and fear – of Roe v. Wade being overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Access to Abortion-care Act upholds long-held New Hampshire values by putting into law that the state cannot further interfere in the right to access abortion. Importantly, there are currently no state statutory protections for abortion in New Hampshire law; instead, RSA 329:49 clearly states, “Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed as creating or recognizing a right to abortion.”
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. This decision, overturning almost 50 years of precedent and upending reproductive health care across the country, has resulted in confusion and chaos. Since the ruling in June 2022, 18 states have banned abortion, with 14 states banning abortion outright. As of today, 25 million people have been impacted already, with 1 in 3 women of reproductive age across the country losing access to abortion in her home state.
With state legislatures reconvening, more states will move to ban abortion in 2023 – pushing access to abortion even further out of reach. As states ban abortion, patients have to travel farther, and later in their pregnancies, to seek safe, legal abortion care. With the newly-enacted bans across the country, patients have traveled hundreds of miles to Northern New England – if they can find child care, if they can afford it, and if they can take time off of work. Specifically, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England has seen a 6.5% increase in out-of-state patients, and this figure is expected to increase as more abortion bans are enacted in 2023 and as the domino effect of wait times grows.
The Dobbs decision introduces new factors into the health care landscape in every state, as individual states now control what used to be decided between patients and clinicians. Here in New Hampshire, abortion remains safe and legal until 24 weeks, with some exceptions, including the critical exception for a fatal fetal diagnosis, passed into law in 2022 through HB 1609 with broad bipartisan support. Now that there are no longer federal constitutional protections for abortion rights, however, it’s on New Hampshire lawmakers to offer clarity in a legally, ethically, and clinically chaotic country for reproductive rights.
We urge you to support HB 88, the Access to Abortion-care Act, to provide critical assurances to Granite Staters that they have the right to make personal, private health care decisions without government interference.
HB 88 does not amend any current abortion laws; the 24-week abortion ban, for example, remains intact. Instead, this bill enshrines into law what we have heard elected officials say since HB 1609 was passed: that they will not seek further restrictions.
HB 88 takes those words and turns them into action. Therefore, this bill is a win-win: protections will be placed into state law, bringing New Hampshire in line with every other state in New England, and lawmakers will demonstrate their support for protecting an individual’s personal rights here in New Hampshire as an immediate reaction to the sudden lack of federal protections.
Regardless of one’s personal opinion on abortion, the collapse of the legal framework around abortion has opened up every state to new - and uncharted - concerns, even in states with specific laws affirming abortion rights. With Roe gone, New Hampshire is one of only three states where abortion is legal but not protected (Virginia and New Mexico being the other two states). The legal landscape across the country, including here in New Hampshire, without Roe v. Wade, is unclear. States like Missouri have tried and are continuing to try to restrict patients from accessing abortion in other states. The Texas abortion ban includes a “bounty hunter” provision allowing essentially any individual – anywhere – to seek a civil lawsuit against anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion, which is a provision that has not been struck down by the court. Local municipalities across the country are also attempting to usurp state law and pass local ordinances, including to restrict medication abortion, as seen in Minnesota. While we can’t anticipate what every state would or could do, we can put some legal protections in New Hampshire state law immediately for clarity in the event that another state tries to push their extreme ideology on the Granite State.
We call on this Legislature to show their constituents they support the types of protections afforded under Roe v. Wade and support people's freedom to make their own private medical decisions, which includes abortion. Please vote Ought to Pass on HB 88, the Access to Abortion-care Act.
For more information contact: Liz Canada, [email protected], 603.686.3353
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