N.H. House Passes Bill Prohibiting Funding for Groups That Offer Abortion Care

January 20, 2012 — The New Hampshire House on Wednesday voted 207-147 to approve a bill (HB 228) that would prohibit the state from contracting with organizations providing abortion services that are not covered by Medicaid, the Concord Monitor reports. The bill's supporters did not secure the two-thirds majority needed to override a possible veto by the governor, who opposes the measure (Spolar, Concord Monitor, 1/19). The legislation now proceeds to the Senate (New Hampshire Union Leader, 1/18).

The bill's language was amended to specifically apply to abortion services not covered by Medicaid, which covers the procedure in cases of rape, incest or when the woman's life is in danger (Concord Monitor, 1/19). The bill also was amended to remove a prohibition on abortion coverage in health insurance contracts for public employees (New Hampshire Union Leader, 1/18).

In October, the Republican-led House Health and Human Services Committee voted 12-5 to recommend dismissal of the bill on the House floor. Prior to Wednesday's vote, the House Republican leadership urged its caucus to reject the committee's report and support the bill.

Supporters of the bill said taxpayer dollars should not go to organizations, such as Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, that provide abortion services. Opponents said the bill would eliminate preventive health care options for low-income, uninsured women. PPNNE provides services such as cancer screenings and contraception to about 16,000 patients in New Hampshire annually. Abortion care accounts for 3% of the organization's services, and no public money funds the procedure.

Gov. Opposes Bill

Colin Manning, a spokesperson for Gov. John Lynch (D), said HB 228 "isn't about abortion, it's about health care for women." The bill would prevent "tens of thousands of New Hampshire women" from being able to choose their own health care provider and they "could lose access to family planning, cancer screenings and health education," Manning added (Concord Monitor, 1/19).