Abortion statistics bill: it’s about time, New Hampshire

This Thursday, January 16 at 9:15 a.m. in room 205 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord (behind the State House): public hearing on HB 1502, to require the state to collect abortion statistics.

“This bill requires the department of health and human services to keep an annual statistical report of each induced termination of pregnancy performed and submit such report to the general court. The report shall also be available to the public.”

What does New Hampshire have in common with California and Maryland? It’s a state with a policy of indifference to women’s health when it comes to abortion. Forty-seven states provide some kind of abortion data to the federal Centers for Disease Control. New Hampshire doesn’t. Eight New Hampshire legislators – seven Republican, one Democrat – are ready to change that.

A couple of years ago, there was a statistics bill (2012’s HB 1680) that through legislative legerdemain was converted into a call for a study committee. There was no follow-through. Before that bill was gutted, it was opposed by abortion advocates as being yet another attempt to interfere with women’s reproductive freedom.

Remember that fact when a candidate, party, or policy group warns you that state-level legislation is eroding Roe v. Wade

HB 1502 calls on New Hampshire’s department of health and human services to collect data as suggested (not mandated) by the CDC. Here, from Abortion Surveillance – United States 2010, is the kind of information that the state could consider submitting to the CDC if HB 1502 passes.

  • Maternal age
  • Gestational age (in weeks at time of abortion)
  • Race and ethnicity of mother
  • Method of abortion
  • Marital status
  • Number of previous abortions and live births to the mother
  • Maternal residence

HB 1502 would require DHHS to prepare an annual report to the legislature, and the information would also be available to the public. New Hampshire residents would finally have something other than an abortion provider’s “3% of our services” statement to go by. How many late-term abortions are going on in New Hampshire? How many teens are having multiple abortions? How prevalent are chemical abortions? How many women come to New Hampshire from out-of-state to get abortions? Is abortion having a disproportionate impact in minority communities? Let’s get more than a hint. Let’s find out. While we’re at it, let’s find out who comes out to the committee hearing to oppose the bill.

What we would not learn under the terms of HB 1502 is how many women endure injury, illness or death as a result of abortion. It will be enough of a struggle for now in New Hampshire to get a bill that grants the public a simple right to know how many abortions are done each year.

Thursday, 9:15: will you be there?



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