N.H. Senate Votes on Series of Bills Targeting Women's Health

April 26, 2012 — The New Hampshire Senate on Wednesday debated a series of abortion- and reproductive health-related measures, rejecting several and advancing two, the Concord Monitor reports. The bills previously were approved by the House (Timmins, Concord Monitor, 4/26).

Senate lawmakers voted 17-6 to table a bill (HB 228) that would prohibit the distribution of public funds to any organization that provides abortion care. The legislation would end funding to six Planned Parenthood of Northern New England health centers, hosptials and several rural health clinics. State Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas warned that the measure could jeopardize federal funding for New Hampshire's $1.4 billion Medicaid program, which receives about half of its money from federal government. An amendment recommended by a Senate committee would exempt hospitals from the bill's funding restrictions, a move that supporters argued would lessen the risk to the Medicaid program, but Toumpas disagreed. The full Senate did not vote on the amendment.

In addition, the Senate voted 12-11 to reject a bill (HB 1659) that would establish a 24-hour waiting period before women can obtain abortion care (Love, AP/Sea Coast Online, 4/26).

Two Bills Sent to Study

Lawmakers voted 19-4 to study a measure (HB 1546) that would allow employers with a religious objection to refuse to cover birth control. They also voted 15-8 to study a measure (HB 1660) that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation (Concord Monitor, 4/26).

According to the AP/Sea Coast Online, it is unusual for the Senate to study bills, and many considered the votes a way to kill the bills.

Two Bills Advance

By an 18-5 vote, lawmakers approved a bill (HB 1679) that would prohibit the procedure abortion-rights opponents call "partial-birth abortion," which already is prohibited under federal law. The bill was sent back to the House with amendments.

The Senate also voted to create a committee that would be charged with collecting abortion statistics. The measure now goes to Gov. John Lynch (D) (AP/Sea Coast Online, 4/26).

House Lawmakers React

Upset about the Senate's response to the bills and other measures not related to women's health, House lawmakers on Wednesday pledged to block several Senate bills until the chamber takes their bills "seriously" (Concord Monitor, 4/26). They also added the 24-hour waiting period proposal as an amendment to an unrelated business tax credit bill (Landrigan, Nashua Telegraph, 4/26).