A New Voice for Informed Consent in NH

Coming in two days: a hearing on HB 483, a bill to require that women seeking abortion have the facts they need in order to give informed consent. Thursday, February 14, House Judiciary Committee, room 208 of the Legislative Office Building. This is a half-hour after the pro-Roe resolution hearing right down the hall.

Jane Cormier is a Republican freshman state representative from Alton. She resolved when she was elected that she was not going to jump on board a long list of bills as co-sponsor, but instead was going to take her time and get her bearings as an elected official. She finally selected one thing to promote: informed consent for women seeking abortion in New Hampshire. She is joined on HB 483 by Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack).

I can hear the plaintive cries already from the usual suspects: “why do we have to deal with this again?”

Because New Hampshire hasn’t “dealt with it” yet, that’s why.

Cormier and Peterson propose that a woman get some information 24 hours before she obtains an abortion. Who’s going to perform the procedure, for instance. What kind of procedure or medication will be used, and the possible complications thereof. (Have you seen any TV ads lately for prescription drugs? You know, the ones with a soothing voice reciting the possible complications? If pill vendors have to disclose that information, why shouldn’t abortion providers?) Information on the anatomical and physiological characteristics of the fetus. The medical risk of carrying to term. Information on alternatives to abortion, on financial resources available, on the legal responsibility of fathers.

The bill provides that all of this may be suspended if the physician certifies an emergency, and documents the emergency in the woman’s medical record.

Last year, when an informed consent bill came up, opponents were scandalized that anyone would try to tell doctors how to practice medicine. Opponents also said that women already know all this information.

Look again at Planned Parenthood’s new slogans & campaigns: Care, No Matter What. We can’t guess what it’s like “in her shoes” when a woman seeks abortion.

If we can’t guess what it’s like in her shoes, how can we guess what a woman does or doesn’t know when she presents with a crisis pregnancy? How is it “care” to try to block her from having one day to consider potential complications? How is it “care” to try to block her from knowing in advance who is going to be responsible for inducing the termination of pregnancy?

Cormier and Peterson believe women are smart enough to evaluate the risks and benefits of a procedure. In contrast, opponents of the bill have a very paternalistic view of women, believing that we should count on doctors to make our decisions for us.

Reaction against the doctor-knows best attitude helped lead to the founding of freestanding women’s clinics in the 1960s and 1970s. Conventional medicine was not meeting women’s needs. Ironically, many of these clinics evolved into abortion facilities. Now, their directors and staff routinely lobby to protect their institutional interests while fighting against informed consent requirements.

The freestanding clinics have become part of the conventional-medicine model that failed women decades ago. By opposing commonsense bills like this one, conventional medicine is failing women again.

3 thoughts on “A New Voice for Informed Consent in NH

  1. Go New Hampshire!!!

  2. Rep. Kathy Souza and I both wanted to co-sponsor this bill. We didn’t know we had to call in our support. We thought we would get a paper in the mail. There are several other Reps who would have co-sponsored as well, and maybe even a Senator or two. We will be there to testify and argue on the House Floor.

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