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N.H. Committee Hears Testimony on Antiabortion Bills

N.H. Committee Hears Testimony on Antiabortion Bills

Lawmakers debated four antiabortion-rights bills during a hearing of New Hampshire's Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

N.H. Committee Hears Testimony on Antiabortion Bills

January 27, 2012 — Lawmakers debated four antiabortion-rights bills during a hearing of New Hampshire's Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

One bill (HB 1653) would allow health care providers to refuse to participate in certain procedures -- including those involving abortion, cloning and stem cells -- for reasons of conscience. A second measure (HB 1659) would mandate that women receive educational materials on abortion, including a state-produced DVD, before obtaining the procedure (New Hampshire Union Leader, 1/25). The materials would include warnings that abortion is linked to breast cancer and future pregnancy problems, and women would have to wait 24 hours after receiving the information before obtaining abortion services (Landrigan, Nashua Telegraph, 1/25).

A third bill (HB 1679) would make it a felony to perform a procedure that abortion-rights opponents call "partial-birth" abortion. The last bill (HB 1660) would ban abortion care after 20 weeks of gestation (New Hampshire Union Leader, 1/25).

Proponents of HB 1653 argued that New Hampshire is one of just three states without laws allowing health care providers to refuse to take part in certain procedures.

Jennifer Frizzell, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said the bill fails to ensure that patients can access care without delay or harm if a provider refuses to provide it. "The religious beliefs of the employee are afforded all the protection, and the needs of patients and the health care employer are unrecognized," Frizzell said.

Claire Ebel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, called for the bill to include language that requires providers to "notify the patient prior to establishing a relationship with the patient" ( Nashua Telegraph, 1/25). Ebel also said HB 1660 is "a solution looking for a problem" (New Hampshire Union Leader, 1/25).

Frizzell spoke in opposition to HB 1659, which she said would give "unfounded information" to patients. She also noted, "Similar laws have been overturned in other states where courts have found the 24-hour waiting period puts an undue burden in the path of women seeking abortions" (Nashua Telegraph, 1/25).