The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee will spend two days on life-issue bills on Wednesday, February 15, and Thursday, February 16. The committee has reserved Representatives Hall in the State House both days for the expected crowd.
The four bills being heard Wednesday the 15th are all abortion-advocacy measures. The three on the following day have been introduced by pro-life legislators.
Of particular concern: CACR 2, a proposed constitutional amendment on “reproductive autonomy” that would graft abortion onto The New Hampshire constitution. Nearly as troublesome – and more likely to pass unless strong opposition comes out – is HB 88, which attempts to elevate abortion to a protected status under statute rather than under the constitution.
You can register your opinion on the House Online Testimony system right now, one entry for each bill, up until the days of the hearings. You do not have to provide written testimony, although you’re free to do so. Checking off “I support” or “I oppose” is a strong message in itself. Don’t put it off.
There’s time to make a plan to attend one or both of these hearings, too. Be aware that the starting time of a hearing might be pushed back if the preceding hearing is still going on.
February 15: the abortion bills
The quoted material next to each bill number is the description as printed in the House calendar. Hyperlinks in the subheadings will take you to the full text of each bill.
9 a.m.: CACR 2, “relating to reproductive freedom. Providing that all persons have the right to make their own reproductive decisions.”
CACR 2, being a proposed constitutional amendment, must be passed by a three-fifths vote of the full House and Senate before going to the voters. (CACRs don’t require approval from the governor.) It would insert this language into The New Hampshire constitution: “[Reproductive Liberty.] That an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy is central to the liberty and dignity to determine one’s own life course and shall not be denied or infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”
As with SB 181 and HB 88 (described below), this language completely ignores and thus attempts to dehumanize the preborn child. And how about “shall not be…infringed”? During the debate on this bill, legislators must be challenged on what that means for conscience rights for medical professionals, a parental right to be aware of medically-administered procedures on children, and a taxpayer’s right not to pay for the direct intentional termination of human life via abortion.
Bad statutes can be amended in the next legislative session. Constitutional amendments can’t.
10:30 a.m.: HB 271-FN, “repealing the fetal life protection act”
HB 271 has the virtue of being straightforward if nothing else. It would repeal the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA) altogether, turning back the clock to the time when abortion in New Hampshire was legal throughout pregnancy. The sponsor is Rep. Marjorie Smith (D-Durham), who finds a 24-week limit too restrictive to be borne.
1:00 p.m.: HB 88, “relative to reproductive rights”
HB 88 is the House version of SB 181, declaring that abortion is “vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals” and thus beyond the reach of the state to regulate. Like SB 181, HB 88 has an exception for FLPA and parental notification, but those statutes are open to repeal independently of HB 88. (HB 271, described above, would do precisely that to FLPA.)
Why two essentially-identical bills? If the House kills its own version, the same issue could be taken up later if the Senate version passes and comes to the House for consideration – and vice-versa. Abortion advocates are determined to get this policy passed one way or another. Unlike a constitutional amendment, a bill like HB 88 or SB 181 needs only a simple majority to pass, and it would not have to go to the voters for ratification.
2:30 p.m.: HB 224-FN, “repealing the criminal and civil penalties from the fetal life protection act”
This would gut the FLPA by ensuring that no one could be penalized for performing a post-24-week abortion, regardless of circumstances.
Be aware that the governor may very well sign this if it comes to his desk. He could still claim to be the governor who signed a law to limit abortion, while removing the only provision of the bill that forces accountability. I see no reason to tempt him into that kind of high-wire act. Let’s kill HB 224 now.
February 16: the life bills
9 a.m.: HB 346-FN, “relative to the right of any infant born alive to appropriate medical care and treatment”
A child who survives attempted abortion ought to be cared for, not abandoned to die or, in Gosnell-esque fashion, killed outright. Nothing in New Hampshire law protects those children. Born-alive bills have been killed here before. HB 346 is this year’s chance to rectify the situation.
If you’ve forgotten who Kermit Gosnell is, or if his name is new to you, please go back and read this and this.
Sponsors, supporters, and for that matter ALL legislators ought to be familiar with the Abortion Survivors Network (abortionsurvivors.org). I hope the sponsors are aware of the Network’s Education and Policy Center and I hope they have requested testimony from survivors.
10:30 a.m.: HB 562-FN, “requiring informed consent prior to receiving an abortion procedure”
Sponsors are calling this the Women’s Right to Know law, and as far as I know it differs from earlier New Hampshire informed consent bills in that it calls for chemical-abortion prescribers to inform patients of the availability of abortion-pill reversal. It also contains measures usually sought by informed consent legislation, including the opportunity (not the mandate) for a pregnant woman to request a sonogram; a list of public and private agencies available for assistance if the pregnancy is carried to term; fetal development information; and a 24-hour period between receiving the information and obtaining the abortion.
The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2019 issued an annotated statement “strongly support[ing] laws which require women to be informed of the option of Abortion Pill Rescue [i.e. reversal] as part of a woman’s right to informed consent prior to abortion.”
1:00 p.m.: HB 591-FN, “prohibiting abortions after detection of fetal heartbeat”
HB 591, the heartbeat bill, would restrict abortion early in pregnancy – upon detection of a fetal heartbeat, approximately six weeks into pregnancy. There’s an exception for the life of the mother and to “prevent a serious risk of the substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.” The penalty for a physician violating the law would be limited to disciplinary action.