The New Hampshire House calendar for the February 10 session has just been released, with reports on bills including HB 1627, the Born-Alive Infant Protection bill, and HB 1560, a bill to ban the dismemberment method of abortion.
Here are the House Judiciary Committee reports on the bills. For most legislators, this is the only information they will see before the vote. Voters who support these bills should contact their representatives and ask them to overturn the “inexpedient to legislate” committee reports.
HB 1560-FN, relative to abortion procedures. MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE (committee vote: 9-7). MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.
Rep. Linda Kenison for the Majority of Judiciary. This bill seeks to add a new section to New Hampshire RSA 132 (Protection for Maternity and Infancy) which would prohibit the most common method of second trimester pre-viability abortion to the ten percent (10%) of women who make a difficult decision to terminate their pregnancy. The medical term for this safe procedure is called non-intact D&E (Dilation and Evacuation). Across the country, this procedure is performed on the ten percent of women, ninety-five percent (95%) of the time. Other jurisdictions, as recently as January 22, 2016, have held nearly identical statutory language which banned this very type of D&E, likely unconstitutional. Nauser v. Kansas, Court of Appeals of the State of Kansas (2016). The appellate court refused to overrule the lower court’s injunction which kept the law from taking effect, reasoning that the statute violated the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights and the United States Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Similarly, the United States Supreme Court determined this to be a safe alternative to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 (a federal statute regulating abortion procedures.) Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 US 127 (2007). The Gonzales court also recognized long-standing law which prohibits an undue interference for the State on a woman’s right to terminate their pregnancy prior to viability. Roe v. Wade, 410 US 113 (1973). This bill, if passed, will likely force New Hampshire into costly and unnecessary litigation. In addition to the constitutional issues, the bill’s language is discriminatory and disregards the individual rights of women New Hampshire citizens. The bill allows a court to determine whether the identity of the women should be disclosed in “every civil criminal, or administrative proceeding,” regardless of her consent to such disclosure. It further allows only a “married” father of the unborn to bring an action for civil damages, yet does not provide the right to an unmarried father or same-sex spouse. This bill also criminalizes health care providers for practicing medicine in a manner they determine is medically sound and is in the best interest of their patients. This bill imposes criminal penalties, including a class A felony for physicians and other medical providers who perform this procedure. We are trusted with the responsibility to pass laws for all the citizens of New Hampshire. This bill, as worded, falls short of our responsibility and violates the laws of the State of New Hampshire and United States Constitution.
Rep. Kurt Wuelper for the Minority of Judiciary. The minority believes the dismemberment abortion procedure known as Dilation and Evacuation [D&E] is so monstrous it should be illegal. No baby should ever be subjected to being physically torn limb-from-limb, which is precisely what the D&E does. Our Constitution forbids “cruel and unusual” punishment for crimes. We apply this principle even to those who have committed crimes so serious they have received the death penalty. We believe the pre-born child, having committed no crime, deserves similar mercy. Even more, our State should do all it can to protect every baby from such a torturous procedure. We believe the Supreme Court would follow the same logic it used to uphold the Partial Birth Abortion ban and uphold the D&E ban.
HB 1627-FN, relative to the protection of infants born alive. MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE (committee vote: 9-7). MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.
Rep. Paul Berch for the Majority of Judiciary. There are existing laws, both Federal and State, that extend protections to infants born alive. This bill seeks to go beyond these laws to allow criminal prosecutions of doctors who are believed to have exceeded vague concepts relating to evidence of life, medically necessary or reasonable care, without defining these terms. A bipartisan majority of the committee felt this bill impermissibly interferes with medical professionals trying to provide the best medical care that they can. This legislation would require doctors to employ extraordinary resuscitation measures for pre-viable fetuses who are born as a result of early (pre-term) labor or abortion – even where there is no chance of viability or ultimate survival. The requirements of this bill deviate from the medical standard of care and interfere with the ability of physicians to work during a time of pregnancy loss or termination. New Hampshire currently has some of the lowest abortion rates and the best maternal health outcomes in the country, yet we heard testimony that this legislation would threaten the state’s top neonatologists and fetal medicine specialists with prosecution and subject doctors and families to an invasive level of government interference.
Rep. Kurt Wuelper for the Minority of Judiciary. The minority believes that every baby born alive deserves nourishment and “medically appropriate and reasonable” care, even if that baby is born alive accidentally after an abortion procedure. Further, it is the role of the Legislature to define crimes and establish penalties for crimes. This bill is similar to the Federal Born Alive Protection Act and requires any such baby receive such care and makes failure to provide that care a crime. With criminal cases from other states documenting that hundreds of these babies have been killed (or allowed to die with no care given), we believe our state needs to clearly identify such wanton disregard for living babies a serious crime.