Senate Committee Halts So-Called “Rights of Conscience” Bill
For Immediate Release: April 27, 2022
CONCORD - On Wednesday, April 27, 2022, the New Hampshire Senate HHS Committee voted 4-1 to interim study HB 1080. HB 1080 is a so-called “Rights of Conscience” bill that would allow any health care professional, at any health care facility - including hospitals and pharmacies - to deny Granite Staters access to reproductive health care, specifically abortion, sterilization, and contraception. The Committee recommendation will next go to the full Senate for a floor vote.
Statement from Liz Canada, Advocacy Manager for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund:
“Every Granite Stater should have the right to make the health care choices that are best for their bodies and their lives and to be able to trust that health care professionals will provide the best care possible. However, HB 1080 would decimate that right.
While we believe this extreme bill should be rejected outright, today’s Senate Committee vote is a step in the right direction toward thwarting this blatant effort to allow health care workers to delay or deny access to reproductive health care, including birth control, without consequence.”
HB 1080 does not include an exception for a medical emergency:
- 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.
Nothing is clearly defined:
- 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.
- A March 2017 survey, conducted via 1,650 interviews with a diverse group of registered voters found that:
- (1) 71% oppose the idea that a hospital could refuse to provide a woman with information or referrals about abortion, birth control, or medical care for a miscarriage because of religious or moral beliefs; and
- (2) 68% oppose the idea that individual doctors or nurses could refuse to provide a woman with information or referrals about abortion, birth control, or medical care for a miscarriage because of religious or moral beliefs.
Other State Initiatives:
- According to the Guttmacher Institute, 17 bills to permit refusal by medical providers have been introduced nationwide this year, including in Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
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.