In case you missed it, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday voted to reject bills that would remove criminal and civil penalties from the existing abortion ban and enshrine abortion protections into state law — protections available in every other state in New England.
This vote comes only days after a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas issued an order suspending FDA approval of mifepristone, one of the primary drugs used in a medication abortion. The ruling has created widespread confusion in New Hampshire, and prompted criticism of Republican Governor Chris Sununu, who refused to join Maine, Vermont and 15 other states that filed a lawsuit challenging the Texas judge's decision to terminate the Food and Drug Administration's 22-year-old approval of mifepristone.
Dr. Danielle Albushies, who works with the New Hampshire Medical Society, testified that threatening doctors with a felony for providing health care also negatively impacts patients. For instance, in treating a mother who is bleeding from the uterus, she said a doctor would delay care to make sure they are not violating the law which could result in more harm to the patient.
“We should not have Draconian threats hanging over our doctors,” Representative Dan Wolf, a Newbury Republican, told the Senate panel last week when they heard testimony on HB 224, a bill he sponsored. “We need to do everything we can to attract and retain care providers, not deter them from moving here.”
"Since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, we've heard the call from Granite Staters who overwhelmingly support safe, legal abortion," said Sara Persechino, of Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund. "Unfortunately, New Hampshire has not taken any steps to enshrine those protections in law, and we remain the only state in New England without proactive protections."
The committee voted in opposition to HB 224, to repeal criminal and civil penalties from the state’s 24-week abortion ban, and HB 88, the Access to Abortion-care Act. These two bills passed the New Hampshire House of Representatives with bipartisan support in March. They next go to the full Senate for a vote on Thursday, April 13.
Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton, and Sen. Shannon Chandley, D-Amherst, stated, “It is deeply disappointing that the majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee chose not to affirm the right to abortion care in New Hampshire today, especially since there are efforts nationwide, and in our state, to further rollback abortion care.”
Union Leader: Senate panel rejects abortion rights bills
Some doctors testified that having these penalties on the books made it harder for New Hampshire to recruit obstetricians and gynecologists in the future to work here.
New Hampshire is the only New England state without affirmative abortion protections in state law.