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N.H. House Rejects Increased Abortion Clinic Regulations

N.H. House Rejects Increased Abortion Clinic Regulations

March 25, 2014 — The New Hampshire House on Thursday rejected one antiabortion-rights measure (HB 1501) and referred another (HB 1502) for further study, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

Bill Details

HB 1501 would have required abortion clinics to obtain a six-month "provisional license" and an annually renewed license thereafter. The bill also would have required the state Department of Health and Human Services to develop "minimum standards" that clinics must meet, including maintaining ultrasound equipment at each facility and conducting mandatory ultrasounds on all patients seeking an abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill was defeated in a 211-86 vote.

HB 1502 would have required that abortion clinics provide a report to the state with details of every abortion within five days of the procedure. The bill also would have required the state Department of Health and Human Services to prepare a "comprehensive annual statistical report" for state legislators and the public. The report could only be used for "statistical purposes" and would not identify patients, according to the bill.

Lawmakers voted 188-80 to refer HB 1502 for further study.

Debate

During debate on HB 1501, state Rep. Kelleigh Murphy (R) encouraged her colleagues to view the measure "neither from a pro-life nor a pro-choice standpoint," noting that other types of businesses, such as pet-groomers and beauty parlors, all must obtain licenses.

However, state Rep. Tom Sherman (D) said that while abortion clinics themselves are not licensed, providers who perform abortions are licensed and certified. He added that abortion has a "serious complication rate" of 0.5%, noting that that it is a "legal" and "safe ... medical procedure."

In addition, Sherman cited a unanimous committee vote against the measure, saying that the committee members "all understood that whatever their feelings are, this bill would single out a procedure and apply an unprecedented level of regulation not supported" by clinical data.

During debate on HB 1502, state Rep. Kathleen Souza (R) said, "Right now, we have no information on why women choose abortions, which women choose abortions, what age they are getting abortions and at what education level, from what part of the state." She added, "Making [abortion] rarer is a goal we should all be working toward."

Meanwhile, state Rep. James MacKay (D) said the bill would "violate the privacy and confidentiality rights of [abortion] patients." He added that a state House committee "is committed during interim study to come up with a way of gathering the data in a way that does not infringe on" patients' privacy (DiStaso, New Hampshire Union Leader, 3/20).