N.H. Abortion Procedure Ban Takes Effect

January 4, 2013 — A New Hampshire law (HB 1679) took effect on Jan. 1 that prohibits a procedure abortion-rights opponents call "partial-birth" abortion, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The New Hampshire Legislature previously voted to override Gov. John Lynch's (D) veto of the measure, which mirrors federal legislation (PL 108-105) prohibiting the same procedure. Under HB 1679, doctors who violate the ban can be charged with a felony, face up to 10 years in prison and be fined up to $100,000. The woman could not be prosecuted (Love, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/31/12).

The bill allows exceptions only after a physician has confirmed that a woman's life would be threatened by continuing the pregnancy and a second doctor -- with no legal or financial ties to the first doctor -- has confirmed the diagnosis. In vetoing the bill, Lynch said he was satisfied with the federal law and concerned that the additional requirements in the New Hampshire bill could jeopardize a woman's life in an emergency (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/29/12).

The law's supporters said they did not trust the federal government to enforce the law, while opponents unsuccessfully argued that the procedure is performed rarely but is sometimes necessary in certain circumstances.

Barry Smith -- a retired ob-gyn and member of the New Hampshire Medical Society -- said arguments over the impact of the new state law are "effectively moot" since the procedure is not performed in the state, the AP/Journal-Constitution reports. He noted that abortions that take place after the second trimester are referred out of state, where medical alternatives to the procedure are used (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/31/12).