NH Senate Calls Time-Out on HB 217

The NH Senate has put off its vote on the fetal homicide bill until next week. A senator speaking off the record before today’s session told me that Dartmouth-Hitchcock has raised concerns about how the bill might affect the practice of in vitro fertilization. The senators are taking some time to deal with this.

This snag came as a surprise to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Kathy Souza (R-Manchester), who found out about it just before the Senate session today.

I have not spoken to anyone from Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and so I don’t claim to understand their objections. I have some ideas of my own, though.

Why on earth would in vitro fertilization figure be affected by a fetal homicide bill? I know that “selective reduction”, the abortion of “surplus” fetuses, is now considered part of pregnancy management following assisted reproduction such as IVF. That’s a ghastly practice, but it doesn’t figure into HB 217. The bill refers only to fetal deaths from wanted pregnancies. If a mother has signed an IVF agreement and the physician later performs one of these “selective reductions”, there would be no crime under a fetal-homicide bill because the mother would have OK’d the abortion.

Of course, if these selective abortions are being committed without a mother’s consent, that’s another story. I doubt, however, that any reproductive endocrinologist or obstetrician would proceed with IVF or a similar procedure without getting a woman’s signature on a consent form. And this might not be Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s concern anyway. We’ll see.

I’m looking forward to next week’s vote, and I’ll be keeping an eye on Friday’s Senate calendar to see if and how the bill is amended.