I am unable to testify in Concord when you hear these bills as I am in Portland, ME, awaiting the birth of my second grandchild. What is an exciting event for my family, with a pregnancy that has passed without alarm, complications, or challenges, is unfortunately not the case for all women who become pregnant. As I await the birth of this child, I cannot help but think of the women who find themselves derailed by the reality of an unplanned pregnancy, I think of the women who face enormous financial difficulties, I think of the couples who are barely surviving with the children they already have, and I think of the women who have developed fetal abnormalities. There are so many stories surrounding pregnancy, and they deserve to take place in the privacy of the doctor's office rather than the political minefield of a Senate hearing.
Last fall I attended a program on Reproductive Rights in New Hampshire, and one panelist, Dr. Barry Smith - retired chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Dartmouth Hitchcock - sounded the alarm about the dangers of recent bills passed in Concord for all pregnant women. As you know, DHMC provides care to pregnant women and premature babies across an area that is not restricted to the state of New Hampshire. Women who are experiencing at-risk pregnancies are seen by medical experts who are increasingly uneasy about practicing in this state. The draconian bills being passed by individuals with no medical knowledge, and that seek to prevent women from terminating pregnancies no matter the reason, have an impact on the ability of DHMC to recruit and retain physicians. Should these barriers to women's health remain in place, we stand the very real possibility that the ability to care for all women who are pregnant in New Hampshire will suffer irreparable damage.
I urge you to vote in support of SB 399 and SB 436 and to seek ways to return medical decisions to medical professionals. I would like this testimony entered into the public record.
Deborah H. Bacon Nelson