State senators need to hear from you on abortion stats

New Hampshire is moving closer to an abortion statistics bill, but the effort has apparently not yet attracted support from the 13 senators required to send the bill to Governor Hassan. Several sources have reported to me that thirteen votes for “ought to pass” on HB 629 are far from assured. The bill has not yet been scheduled for floor action.

Please contact state senators as soon as possible and urge support for HB 629. It’s time for New Hampshire to join almost all of its sister states in collecting and reporting abortion statistics to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Find all Senators’ contact information HERE. The phone numbers at that link go to the Senate offices.  At this point, calls will be more effective than emails or letters. Make a special effort to contact your own senator via phone or in person. Find your district HERE. Each senator needs to know that voters care enough about women’s health to insist on passage of HB 629. 

Privacy concerns recently expressed by at least one House opponent of the bill are a red herring. The confidentiality of a woman’s identity is preserved under the terms of stats laws nationwide and in HB 629 itself.  About four dozen other states have already served as a lab for this.

At least one House member has raised questions about the cost of the bill, estimated by the Division of Vital Records to be up to (not “at least”) $130,000. This is NOT a budget-buster. If the current budget has no room for this public health measure, the line item can be included in the next budget, if House and Senate agree for the bill to go into effect concurrent with the next fiscal year.

I was one of the non-legislators who participated in the 2015 meetings of a House study subcommittee that looked at abortion-statistics legislation. The committee’s work resulted in HB 629, introduced in January of this year. The chairman of the subcommittee, Rep. Bill Nelson, reported to his colleagues on the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs committee that all stakeholders in the study agreed with the findings that led to HB 629. Representative Nelson then worked with Rep. Thomas Sherman to amend the bill to accommodate concerns of members of the full committee.  The committee passed the amended bill 12-1, and the House passed it on a voice vote. That’s about as non-controversial as a bill gets.

Here’s the House committee report by Rep. Nelson, who after studying abortion statistics laws for a year certainly understood questions about privacy and funding: “As amended, this bill provides statistical information that brings New Hampshire in line with 48 other states. The committee took care to be sure the identity of the patient is confidential and follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols. All stakeholders agreed to the final version of the bill.”

This bill has been in the works for a long time. It has bipartisan sponsorship from eight state representatives and two senators. It’s the result of painstaking study by legislators, representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, an expert from the Division of Vital Records, and members of the public.

All the senators need to hear from you: YES on HB 629. Take no vote for granted.

RELATED POST on an earlier stats bill: Putting Down a Marker for Women’s Health

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