Mixed House Actions Would Further Restrict Abortion Access and Add Roadblocks to Contraceptive Access in New Hampshire
For Immediate Release: March 17, 2022
CONCORD - On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, the New Hampshire House voted on five reproductive health and rights bills.
- HB 1080: so-called “rights of conscience” legislation that would allow health care workers, including doctors, pharmacists, and cashiers, to refuse to provide, sell, or participate in the delivery of contraception, sterilization, or abortion care.
- House vote: Ought to Pass, 175-165
- HB 1477: Texas-style six-week abortion ban that would effectively ban all abortion care in New Hampshire
- House vote: Tabled, 185-143
- HB 1625: would repeal New Hampshire’s patient safety zone law for reproductive health centers
- House vote: Ought to Pass, 168-162 (the House rejected a tabling motion and overturned the Committee report of ITL)
- HB 1673: to mitigate the harm of New Hampshire’s abortion ban and ultrasound mandate
- House vote: Ought to Pass as amended, voice vote (the Committee amendment failed but a floor amendment was adopted to leave the abortion ban in place but clarify the ultrasound mandate provision)
- HB 1674: the Access to Abortion-care Act which would enshrine abortion rights in state statute
- House vote: Tabled, 306-19
Statement from Kayla Montgomery, VP of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund:
“This is a crisis moment in our nation and New Hampshire is at a crossroads. If and when the Supreme Court dismantles abortion rights, decisions about access will go to the states.
Unfortunately, today’s votes put New Hampshire on the path of further restrictions on access to abortion care and contraception as well. Not only did the House of Representative refuse to mitigate the harm caused by the state’s new abortion ban or add proactive protections for abortion rights, the body endorsed legislation that would jeopardize patient safety at reproductive health centers and allow doctors, pharmacists, and cashiers to refuse to provide birth control.
To be clear - today’s shameful votes are out of step with Granite State values and the will of voters, who overwhelmingly support access to safe, legal abortion and oppose current restrictions on the books already. Now is the time for New Hampshire to lead the nation in bodily autonomy, medical privacy, and reproductive freedom - not cower to an extreme out-of-state political agenda that will harm our residents. We strongly urge the state Senate and Governor Sununu to reject further attacks on reproductive rights in New Hampshire.”
- PPNHAF Testimony in Opposition to HB 1080
- PPNHAF Testimony in Opposition to HB 1477
- PPNHAF Testimony in Opposition to HB 1625
- PPNHAF Testimony in Support of HB 1673
- PPNHAF Testimony in Support of HB 1674
- When New Hampshire’s abortion ban and ultrasound requirement was being considered in 2021, nearly 200 New Hampshire health care providers expressed their opposition to this law.
- On February 2, 2022, a contingent of medical providers from The Elliot Hospital cosigned a letter to senators and Governor Sununu asking them to repeal this law because “it will lead to cruel and unnecessary physical and emotional harm to the women of New Hampshire.”
HB 1080 - Provider Refusal:
- Even in a medical emergency during which withholding care could result in the death of a patient, HB 1080 would allow providers to deny life-saving medical care to patients based on a personal religious or “moral” objection.
- The boundaries for moral or ethical objections are not defined in the bill, resulting in limitless possibilities for providers who refuse to give essential care.
- Under this legislation, a patient in the hospital may be unable to ask a provider about birth control if a medical aide refuses to call a nurse or physician based on a “moral objection,” and a pharmacists can refuse to fill a prescription for birth control - regardless of whether it is prescribed for contraception or for other medical reasons, such as polycystic ovary syndrome.
- The bill even allows those who admit or refer patients to discriminate based on their personal beliefs, meaning that patients could be affected at any point during a visit to obtain health care.
HB 1477 - Six-Week Abortion Ban
- This bill would prohibit all abortion after detection of fetal cardiac activity, with only an exception for “prevent[ing] the death of a pregnant woman or to prevent a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
- This bill would ban almost all abortion in New Hampshire, similar to what Texas has had in place since September 1, 2021.
- This deeply unpopular legislation is a blatant violation of decades of Supreme Court precedent and flies in the face of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey - currently the law of the land.
HB 1625 - Patient Safety Zone Repeal Bill
- This bill would repeal New Hampshire’s patient safety zone law, which passed with bipartisan support in 2014 to protect patient and provider safety and privacy at reproductive health centers.
- The original law allows health centers to establish patient safety zones of up to 25 feet and it was intentionally designed to strike a balance between patient safety and an individual’s First Amendment rights. It’s an important tool in the toolbox for public safety measures.
- The attacks on reproductive health centers continue to escalate; on December 31, 2021, a Planned Parenthood in Knoxville, Tennessee was destroyed by an arson attack. We know that as states move to ban abortion across the country, anti-abortion protestors will travel to states that still allow abortion care - and we need to proactively protect the safety of patients and providers.
HB 1673 - 24-Week Abortion Ban and Ultrasound Mandate Harm Mitigation and Repeal:
- NH’s 24-Week abortion ban is extreme for many reasons. It has no exceptions for fatal fetal diagnoses, rape, or incest; and it has a very narrow exception for maternal physical health.
- Additionally, this abortion ban criminalizes health care providers with a class B felony which could come with up to seven years in prison and a fine up to $100,000, allows husbands to file civil actions, and allows the patient’s parents to file civil actions.
- There are no other medical procedures in New Hampshire law subject to felony charges and imprisonment for health care professionals.
- On February 18, a Committee Amendment was offered by Rep. Marjorie Smith to clarify the ultrasound mandate provision, strengthen protections for health of the pregnant person, add fatal fetal diagnoses as an exception to the abortion ban, and remove civil and criminal penalties.
- A Senate companion bill, SB 399, was passed recently with an amendment that leaves the abortion ban intact but mitigates the harm caused by the ultrasound mandate.
- On February 17, the House passed HB 1609, Republican filed legislation that adds exceptions for rape, incest, and fatal fetal diagnoses to the 24-week abortion ban and mitigates the harm of the ultrasound mandate provision.
HB 1674 - New Hampshire’s Access to Abortion-care Act (AAA)
- HB 1674 would put abortion rights into state statute. If passed into law, regardless of what happens in the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion will remain safe, legal, and accessible in the Granite State.
- The Access to Abortion-care Act upholds long-held New Hampshire values by enshrining the right to make personal, private health decisions regarding abortion in law.
- The AAA does not change anything about current New Hampshire abortion laws; it does, however, provide critical protections to ensure that Granite Staters can work with their doctors to get the health care they need in the majority of situations.
- A Senate companion bill, SB 436, was tabled last week after the ITL motion failed, 12-12. Republican Senators Jeb Bradley and Erin Hennessey joined the Democrats in support of SB 436.
- Recent UNH Survey Center polling released in February, 2022, shows that New Hampshire overwhelmingly supports Roe v. Wade. Across the state, 65% of Granite Staters want the new Supreme Court Justice to be someone who would vote to uphold Roe v. Wade - including a majority of registered Democrats, registered undeclared, and registered Republican voters. Just 20% of Granite Staters want the next Supreme Court Justice to vote to overturn Roe.
- Polling released in July, 2021 from the UNH Survey Center shows that New Hampshire’s abortion ban is deeply unpopular, with only one-third of Granite Staters in support of it. Nearly half of independent Granite Staters oppose this ban, as do 27 percent of Republicans.
- The UNH Survey Center polling also shows that only 31 percent of Granite Staters support the provision signed by Governor Sununu that mandates medically unnecessary, often invasive ultrasounds before abortion care at all stages of pregnancy.
- The truth is, most Granite Staters and most Americans support access to safe, legal abortion. If someone has decided to have an abortion, more than 8 in 10 respondents want the experience to be supportive and nonjudgmental, without added burdens or protesters, affordable and safe.
- Two U.S. Supreme Court cases could overturn Roe v. Wade, jeopardizing abortion access in our country. By June, 26 states could lose abortion access, impacting 36 million - or nearly half of U.S. women of reproductive age (18-49) and more people who can become pregnant.
- The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Texas’ SB 8 on November 1, 2021, although not about the constitutionality of the law. SB 8 is a 6-week abortion ban, which is currently in place. Abortion remains virtually inaccessible in Texas.
- The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on December 1, 2021, which marks the first time in 50 years the Court agreed to hear a case on the constitutionality of a pre-viability abortion ban.
- There are 16 additional abortion-related cases one step away from the Supreme Court.
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 6 health centers in Claremont, 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.