Facts About N.H. Abortion Laws

(Note: This is based on a post I wrote for Cornerstone Action, which kindly gave me permission to re-post here.)

New York’s governor ordered buildings to be illuminated in pink lights on January 22, in celebration of state law he had just signed eliminating most limitations on abortion. Legislators in Virginia and Vermont are ready to follow suit with radically anti-life policies.

Think it couldn’t happen in New Hampshire? The grim fact is that it already has. New Hampshire is one of the most abortion-friendly states in the country. Here are the facts.

How far into pregnancy are abortions permitted in New Hampshire?

  • Abortions are legal, unrestricted, and unregulated throughout all 40 weeks of pregnancy in New Hampshire.
  • As recently as 2017 and 2018, legislators rejected bills that would have provided protection for viable preborn children.

What laws in New Hampshire affect abortion now?

  • New Hampshire has a parental notification statute. When a minor seeks abortion, she needs to notify a parent or guardian, or else use a “judicial bypass” in which a judge determines she is mature enough to make her own decision. The law calls for notification, not consent.
  • New Hampshire bans the barbaric abortion method known as partial-birth abortion or dilation-&-extraction, in which a child is delivered partway before being killed. This ban was passed in 2012.
  • As of early 2019, New Hampshire policy limits the use of Medicaid funds for abortion.
  • New Hampshire adopted a fetal homicide statute in 2017, allowing prosecutors the option of filing homicide charges against a person whose bad actions cause the death of a preborn child against the mother’s will. While not an abortion law, it was bitterly opposed by abortion advocates.

How many abortions are performed in New Hampshire annually?

  • No one knows, and that includes state lawmakers. New Hampshire does not have an abortion statistics law, despite the fact that the federal Centers for Disease Control attempts to collect abortion data. Forty-seven other states manage to collect and report such data, while protecting the anonymity and privacy of individual women obtaining abortions.
  • New Hampshire public health officials have no reliable data on the age of women seeking abortion, the stage of pregnancy at which abortions are performed, and whether women are experiencing abortion complications.

How many doctors do abortions in New Hampshire?

  • No one knows, since public health authorities do not collect any data on abortions.
  • There is no requirement that abortion providers in New Hampshire have any medical training or certification whatsoever.

Do New Hampshire state public health authorities inspect abortion facilities?

  • No, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. From a May 19, 2013 report in the New Hampshire Sunday News: “Kris Neilsen, communications director for the state Department of Health and Human Services, explained in an email that abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood and the Concord Feminist Health Center are exempt from state licensing and inspection requirements because they are considered physician offices. Twenty-three health care providers such as hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, and dialysis centers are licensed by the state, but not abortion clinics. ‘In New Hampshire, there is no such thing as an abortion clinic – the majority of abortions are done in doctors offices … and doctors’ offices are exempt from licensure under RSA 151:2 II,’ Neilsen said. ‘Because they are exempt, we have no jurisdiction over them, and neither does anyone else.’”

Who sets standards for abortion facilities?

  • The abortion providers themselves determine what standards to use. Since there is no law that providers have any medical training, those “standards” need not relate in any way to women’s health.

What’s the rate of post-abortion complications experienced by New Hampshire women?

  • No one knows, since lawmakers refuse to demand abortion statistics and public health officials decline to collect them. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” sums it up.

Does New Hampshire law protect children who survive attempted abortion?

  • No. Children who survive attempted abortion are not entitled to any more care than the abortionist wishes to provide. A bill to recognize a duty to care for such infants was defeated by the New Hampshire House in 2016.

Does New Hampshire law recognize the conscience rights of health care personnel who choose not to participate in abortion?

  • No. A bill to provide conscience protections was killed in the New Hampshire House in 2018. Health care professionals in New Hampshire can lose their jobs and be subject to professional sanctions for refusing to assist in abortions.

How did New Hampshire become such a haven for abortion providers?

  • In 1997, then-Governor (now U.S. Senator) Jeanne Shaheen signed a law repealing New Hampshire’s 19th-century anti-abortion laws. She did so knowing full well that no updated laws were in place. With a stroke of her pen, and with the cooperation of legislators, New Hampshire abortion regulation disappeared. So did concern for the health of women obtaining abortions. So did concern for preborn children, even moments away from birth.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can help turn a culture of abortion into a culture that respects and nurtures life, especially in its most vulnerable stages.

  • Share the message: Knowledge is power, and many people don’t know the facts about abortion in New Hampshire.
  • Pray. Join with your faith community. A culture of prayer will lead to a culture of life.
  • Politicians bear a great deal of responsibility for New Hampshire’s abortion-friendly laws, but blaming Concord won’t help. What will help is electing representatives at all levels of government who respect the right to life, and who care about the health of pregnant women and their children. Vote for candidates who recognize that New Hampshire law relative to abortion must be changed.
  • Consider running for local or state office.
  • Work within your community to create and sustain life-affirming options for women and children at risk from abortion. Contact your local pro-life pregnancy care center to learn about practical ways you can help.

(The original version of this post contained an incorrect alternative term for partial-birth abortion. This version contains corrected information.)

Abortions Statistics Bill Rejected By Committee

A bill to require collection of public health statistics relative to abortion will go to the New Hampshire House with an “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL) recommendation. The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs committee voted 12-8 along party lines to report the bill ITL.

The bill will be voted on by the full House as early as February 14. Unless the committee recommendation is overturned, New Hampshire will remain one of three states failing to report abortion data to the Centers for Disease Control.

N.H. House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee

Committee members voting “inexpedient to legislate,” all Democrat: Reps. Polly Campion (D-Etna), Gerri Cannon (D-Somersworth), Mary Freitas (D-Manchester), Jerry Knirk (D-Freedom), James MacKay (D-Concord), Richard Osborne (D-Campton), Jeffrey Salloway (D-Lee), Joe Schapiro (D-Keene), Kendall Snow (D-Manchester), Susan Ticehurst (D-Tamworth), Lucy Weber (D-Walpole), and Gary Woods (D-Bow).

Opposing the ITL motion were eight Republicans: Reps. Dennis Acton (R-Fremont), John Fothergill (R-Colebrook), Joseph Guthrie (R-Hampstead), William Marsh (R-Wolfeboro), Charles McMahon (R-Windham), Bill Nelson (R-Brookfield), Mark Pearson (R-Hampstead), and Walter Stapleton (R-Claremont).

Rep. Osborne, speaking before the vote, told his colleagues, “All these things [New Hampshire abortion statistics] are already in the CDC.” He claimed to have found New Hampshire abortion information online. [Note: see comment below this post from one of Rep. Osborne’s colleagues, pointing out that Rep. Osborne later corrected his statement.]

Rep. Osborne’s claim is at variance with the latest Abortion Surveillance report from the Centers for Disease Control. From that report:

  • “This report summarizes abortion data for 2015 that were provided voluntarily to CDC by the central health agencies of 49 reporting areas (the District of Columbia [DC]; New York City; and 47 states, [excluding California, Maryland, and New Hampshire]).” [page 2, emphasis added]
  • Page 5, “U.S. Totals,” emphasis added: “Among the 49 reporting areas that provided data for 2015, a total of 638,169 abortions were reported. All 49 of these areas provided data every year during 2006–2015. Excludes California, Maryland, and New Hampshire.”

N.H. House Kills Buffer Zone Repeal Bill

The New Hampshire House has voted “inexpedient to legislate” on a bill to repeal the state’s buffer zone law. The ITL motion passed on a vote of 228-141.

Roll call is here. Note that the motion was “inexpedient to legislate,” so a Yea vote was a vote to kill the repeal bill. A Yea vote was a vote in favor of keeping the buffer zone law.

Representatives Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), Max Abramson (R-Seabrook), Walter Stapleton (R-Claremont), and Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford) spoke in favor of repeal. Rep. Abramson warned his colleagues about the constitutional defects of the law in light of the McCullen decision. Rep. Notter echoed that concern, saying, “The day the buffer zone is actually posted, I guarantee that litigation will ensue, costing us millions.”

Reps. Debra Altschiller (D-Stratham) and Sandra Keans (D-Rochester) defended the buffer zone law. Rep. Altschiller called it a “thoughtfully passed” measure to “remedy the harassment.” She then said that 8 murders, 17 attempted murders, and 42 bombings presumably related to abortion had occurred since Roe v. Wade. She did not mention that these numbers did not refer to New Hampshire.

 

Go Old-School: Get Some Stamps

In a time when legislators are so inundated with emails that they can’t read them all, what’s old is new again. Go get yourselves some stamps and blank postcards.

I heard this from a state legislator this week as he handed me his card: “Oh, I never check my legislative email.” I hear that all the time, from legislators around the state. A legislative inbox at any given time can have hundreds and even thousands of messages. Any subject line that doesn’t include a hint that the sender is a constituent is likely to yield a quick “delete.”

So spoil your legislators. Write to them. Give them something to read besides bills.

My town has eight at-large state representatives. (One town nearby has 11. I got off easy.) I have their legislative email addresses, and I use them, but I’m planning to use postcards more this term.

I went to my local office supply store and bought a box of plain postcards – the kind that can go through a printer at home. I will be hand-writing messages, but the printer-style postcards are economical. I bought a roll of postcard stamps at the post office. I have the legislators’ home addresses thanks to the state web site. I’m good to go.

Why postcards instead of letters? Because they cost 35 cents to send rather than 55 cents, which is what first-class letter stamps now cost. Also, a postcard forces me to get my message across briefly.

Someone more organized than I would probably think to address a batch of postcards in advance. If that’s you, I salute you.

Phone calls to legislators are always in style, if that’s your preference. Ignoring a call is definitely harder than ignoring an email.

No matter how you reach out to your legislators, remember to keep your message brief, clear, and courteous. If you write it down and put a stamp on it, so much the better.

N.H. House to Vote on Buffer Zone Repeal January 31

The New Hampshire House is expected to vote on HB 124, the buffer zone repeal bill, at its January 31 session. The session will be live-streamed via the General Court web site.

The House Judiciary committee voted 14-4 to give the bill an “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL) report. In order for the bill to pass, the full House must overturn the committee report and then vote “ought to pass” (OTP).

Contact your state representatives as soon as possible with a brief and courteous message: please vote OTP on HB 124.