Hearings January 25 on abortion stats and facility audit bills

New Hampshire legislators will soon introduce an abortion statistics bill, HB 582-FN, which will be considered by the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs (HHS) committee. The same committee will also consider HB 615-FN, requiring independent audits of reproductive health facilities. (The “FN” suffix indicates a fiscal note, and those letters may be omitted in references to the bills.) According to the House calendar released yesterday, the bills will have their hearings on Wednesday, January 25 at 2:00 p.m. for HB 582 and 2:45 p.m. for HB 615. Before heading to Concord, check the General Court website, gencourt.state.nh.us, for any updates or cancellations due to weather.

The hearings will be in the Legislative Office Building in Concord, rooms 210-211. See this blog’s Legislative Tool Kit for information about attending hearings and submitting testimony.

Action item: register your opinion on the bills online now, even days before the hearing, and your response will reach all committee members. Use the House Online Testimony form, which lets you record a simple “I support” or “I oppose” on bills. (I’ll be supporting them both.) You may submit written testimony, but it is not required on that form. Your name, position (support/oppose), and any testimony you submit online will be visible to the general public. On the Online Testimony page, enter “January 25” for the date and “House Health Human Services and Elderly Affairs” as the committee, and you will see a drop-down menu with a list of all the bills being heard by HHS that day. Click on the appropriate bill number and then follow the directions on the resulting screen.

Even if you cannot attend the hearing, the advance online sign-in is critical in order to get the committee members’ attention and to encourage the sponsors of the bills.

Regarding HB 582, New Hampshire is one of the few states that does not collect abortion statistics and report aggregate data (not personally-identifying) to the public and the federal Centers for Disease Control. I’m losing track of the number of years the House has considered and rejected this women’s health measure at the urging of abortion advocates. HB 582 is years overdue. Chief sponsor is Rep. Walter Stapleton (R-Claremont), joined by three co-sponsors.

HB 615 would ensure clarity in how Medicaid funds (which includes family planning funds) are used by abortion providers. From the bill’s official analysis: “This bill provides that state funds awarded to reproductive health care facilities shall be limited to the minimum amount necessary for participation in the Medicaid program. The bill also requires state contracts with certain reproductive health care facilities to include provisions indicating that state funds shall not be used to subsidize abortion and that the facility shall undergo an independent audit, the results of which will be provided to the executive council prior to taking action on the contract.” Chief sponsor is Rep. Jess Edwards (R-Auburn), and he is joined by seven co-sponsors.

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