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CONCORD, NH - This week marks the 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The landmark Supreme Court decision overturned a Texas statute that made it a crime to perform an abortion unless a woman’s life was at stake — legalizing abortion nationwide. This anniversary also marks a year of groundswell organizing across the country with people showing support for the health, rights, and full equality of all people – including access to a safe and legal abortion. To celebrate, the ACLU of New Hampshire honored former PPNNE/PPNHAF NH Public Affairs Organizer, Lauren Banker, for her work as a young leader in the reproductive rights movement in New Hampshire, along with Dawn Zitney, a Wellness Educator and Counselor at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

When the Roe decision was handed down, abortion was illegal in nearly all U.S. states — except to save a woman’s life, or for limited reasons such as instances of rape, incest, or fetal anomaly. Roe rendered these laws unconstitutional and set a legal precedent that affected more than 30 subsequent Supreme Court cases involving restrictions on access to safe, legal abortion. During the first six months of 2018, legislators in six states have introduced measures to ban all abortions, and legislators in 28 states have introduced measures to ban abortions under some circumstances — and New Hampshire is no different. Currently, there are bills introduced in the New Hampshire House that are direct attempts to chip away at access to women’s reproductive rights by making it more difficult for women to access safe, legal abortion. Abortion bans, waiting periods, and “provider refusal” bills are bad policy because they put unnecessary barriers between women seeking  her own personal, private decision about her health and medical care.

Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU-NH, honored Banker saying “Lauren has been an instrumental part of defending a woman’s constitutionally protected right to access safe, legal abortion in New Hampshire. Over the past 4 and a half years Lauren has been a passionate and effective ambassador for Planned Parenthood on campuses, in our communities and in connecting our supporters with their elected officials, in Concord and in Congress. She has built a network of relationships and goodwill with volunteer leaders and community action teams and her contributions will long outlast her tenure with Planned Parenthood.”

“At Planned Parenthood I spent my time organizing on college campuses and building relationships with volunteers and advocates from all over the state. I heard countless stories about barriers to access, stigma, and the crisis of health care affordability. I heard stories from women on why they chose abortion  or how they planned their pregnancies,” stated Lauren Banker, about her time at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “Planned Parenthood believes in the right of all people to make their own personal medical decisions about pregnancy, without political interference. Planned Parenthood trusts women to make their own, fully informed health care decisions, and I’ll never stop fighting for access to care.”

At 101 years old, Planned Parenthood remains committed to the mission of building a world where all people have access to the health care and education they need, and all people have control of their bodies so they can determine their own destinies. The work of our compassionate and highly skilled health center staff makes this possible, and ensures the communities we serve get the best care possible, every day — no matter what.