Fetal Life Protection Act in jeopardy as House votes this week on life-issue bills

This information was emailed earlier today to subscribers to the Leaven for the Loaf newsletter.

Nine bills that Leaven for the Loaf  has been following this legislative session will be voted on during a two-day New Hampshire House session on Wednesday, March 22, and Thursday, March 23.

These bills are not coming to the House floor with favorable committee recommendations. For most reps, all they will know about these bills will be what they read in the House calendar. That means it’s up to pro-life voters to reach out to their representatives and ask for good votes.

In my opinion, the most dangerous bill is HB 224, amending the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA) to remove penalties on providers doing illegal post-24-week abortions. If you have time for only one message to your state representative, make it this one: vote “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL) on HB 224.

Republicans need to hear this just as much as Democrats do. Removing penalties from FLPA will render it unenforceable. Removing penalties from FLPA will return New Hampshire to being a place where abortion is legal throughout pregnancy for any reason. HB 224 needs to be ITL’d.

Look up your representatives’ contact information here.

Don’t just ask for a “yea” or “nay” vote

When a bill comes up for a vote in the New Hampshire House or Senate, the motion might be “ought to pass (OTP),” “inexpedient to legislate (ITL),” or “table,” to mention a few possibilities. Telling a representative to vote “no,” without knowing what the motion will be, is therefore insufficient. 

Instead, be specific about the motion you’re asking for. On HB 224, repealing penalties from FLPA, I’ll be asking for an ITL vote. 

The other featured life-issue bills

Three bills in addition to HB 224 were introduced by abortion advocates, and these three deserve “inexpedient to legislate” votes.

  • CACR 2, a proposed amendment to the state constitution “relative to reproductive freedom,” a euphemism to enshrine abortion in the New Hampshire constitution.
  • HB 88, declaring abortion “vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals.” 
  • HB 271-FN, repealing the Fetal Life Protection Act altogether.

Five other bills are much friendlier to women’s health and the right to life.

  • HB 346-FN, relative to the right of any infant born alive – including children who survive attempted abortion – to appropriate medical care and treatment.
  • HB 562-FN, informed consent for abortion.
  • HB 582-FN, requiring the state’s Division of Vital Records to collect abortion statistics; support WITH amendment # 2023-0392h (committee minority report).
  • HB 591-FN, prohibiting abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat.
  • HB 615-FN, requiring independent audits of “reproductive health care facilities” to ensure that public funds are not used directly for abortion.

Life-issue bills are headed for NH House; Senate defeats pro-abortion bill

The New Hampshire Senate on March 9 killed a bill to declare abortion  “vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals.” SB 181 died when the Senate voted 14-10 to support an “inexpedient to legislate motion.” The vote was along party lines, with all ten Democrats in the minority. The same ten senators had co-sponsored the measure.

Now is a good time to thank your senator, if she or he is one of the fourteen Republicans. Their votes killed SB 181.

Other bills heading to the House floor; watch out for HB 224

If you don’t have time to read any further, at least read this: tell your state representatives to vote inexpedient to legislate on HB 224-FN, repealing penalties from the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA). Find your representatives’ contact information on the General Court website.

On the House side, nine life-issue bills await action. The full House, coming up against its “crossover” deadline, will meet in at least three sessions between March 16 and 23 to consider committee recommendations.

The Judiciary Committee tied 10-10 on four bills proposed by abortion advocates, meaning those bills will go the full House without a recommendation. The committee voted to recommend “inexpedient to legislate” on three bills with pro-life sponsors. (See descriptions of all these bills in this blog’s February 25 post.) Those bills are not on the calendar for the March 16 House session, so they will not come up for a vote until the following week.

That gives you time to reach out to your state representatives. The recent Senate vote tells me that sweeping pro-abortion measures, even if passed by the House, won’t make it past the Senate. Abortion-friendly measures masquerading as “moderate,” however, pose a much bigger threat. That means representatives need to hear loud and clear to vote inexpedient to legislate on HB 224-FN, which would repeal penalties from the Fetal Life Protection Act. Those penalties – civil, not criminal – apply to abortion providers who illegally perform abortions post-24-weeks. Without the penalties, the Fetal Life Protection Act becomes unenforceable.

I won’t buy any excuses from a representative – or a governor, for that matter – who supports gutting FLPA now after supporting it when it passed in 2021. A vote to pass HB 224 will be a vote to return New Hampshire to keeping abortion effectively legal through all nine months of pregnancy.

The same batch of bills coming out of Judiciary includes, among other things, a born-alive infant protection act (HB 346-FN) and and outright repeal of FLPA (HB 271-FN).

Don’t forget the HHSEA stats and audit bills

I’m still waiting to hear what the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs (HHSEA) committee will do on two other bills, covered on this blog in January. HB 582-FN is an abortion statistics bill, and HB 615-FN calls for audits of reproductive health facilities to ensure that public funds are not being directly used for abortion. Both bills deserve support.

All committee recommendations must go to the full House shortly, so the House will vote on both of those bills soon. They are not on the March 16 House calendar.

Updated through Feb. 25: votes scheduled on life-issue bills

New Hampshire senators have postponed a vote on a pro-abortion measure to March 9. In the other legislative chamber, the House Judiciary committee will vote on seven life-issue bills a day earlier, on Wednesday, March 8.


The full state Senate will vote on SB 181-FN on March 9 during a session beginning at 10 a.m. What you can do: contact your senator, if you haven’t done so already. Contact information for each senator is on the “Who’s My Senator?” page on the Senate website. All ten Democratic senators are co-sponsoring the bill to declare that abortion is “vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals.” Even if your senator is one of those ten, send a brief, clear, courteous message anyway: please support the Senate Judiciary Committee’s recommendation of “inexpedient to legislate” on SB 181-FN. Never let them say they didn’t hear from you.

Earlier coverage of the bill is in this blog’s January 31 post.

As with all Senate sessions, this one will be open to the public and will be live-streamed. There is no telling what time SB 181-FN will come up, with several dozen bills scheduled for votes the same day.

House Judiciary Committee

The House Judiciary Committee will vote on seven life-issue bills on March 8. What you can do: email the Judiciary Committee, especially if you didn’t sign in online or attend the original hearings. Emails to the committee can be sent to HouseJudiciaryCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. That address will reach all committee members.

I covered each of these bills in “Avalanche of hearings on House life-issue bills” earlier this month. In brief, four bills were introduced by abortion-friendly legislators, and three were introduced by legislators with pro-life records.

  • CACR 2, a proposed amendment to the state constitution “relative to reproductive freedom,” a euphemism to enshrine abortion in the New Hampshire constitution.
  • HB 88, the House version of SB 181, declaring abortion “vital to the equality and liberty of all individuals.”
  • HB 224-FN, repealing the penalties prescribed in the Fetal Life Protection Act.
  • HB 271-FN, repealing the Fetal Life Protection Act altogether.
  • HB 346-FN, relative to the right of any infant born alive – including children who survive attempted abortion – to appropriate medical care and treatment.
  • HB 562-FN, informed consent for abortion.
  • HB 591-FN, prohibiting abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat.

The committee session is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on March 8 and may run for several hours. The session is open to the public in the committee’s room in the Legislative Office Building, and the session will be live-streamed.

Avalanche of hearings on House life-issue bills February 15 and 16

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.

Born-alive bill: party-line vote in Senate committee

The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 on Tuesday to recommend “ought to pass” on a HB 233, a bill to establish a committee to study the right of born-alive children to “appropriate and reasonable medical treatment.” The full Senate is expected to vote on the recommendation in January.

The bill being recommended to the full Senate looks a lot different from the bill as passed by the House early this year.

The vote was along party lines, with Republicans Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry), Harold French (R-Franklin), and William Gannon (R-Sandown) voting in favor. Democrats Rebecca Whitley of Concord and Thomas Sherman of Rye voted no.

Re-referred: how the bill was carried over from earlier this year

You may recall that HB 233 in its original version prompted a walkout by pro-abortion House members last winter. (See my report “House passes two life-issue bills” from February 24.) The walkout followed the failure of motions to kill and to table the born-alive legislation. A majority of the reps who stayed at their posts eventually voted Ought to Pass on the bill.

The original version of HB 233, sponsored by Reps. Jordan Ulery (R-Hudson) and Walt Stapleton (R-Claremont), passed the House without amendment. Then it went to the Senate, which decided to “re-refer” the bill to the Senate Judiciary committee. This is the Senate’s version of what the House calls “retaining” a bill: holding it over for more consideration in committee, delaying a vote by the full chamber until the following year.

And so here we are: HB 233 went back to the Senate committee, which cast its vote this week to recommend that the full Senate vote next month to pass an amended version of the bill.

Amending the bill

What the Senate Judiciary Committee decided to do on December 14 was recommend amending the bill, changing it from born-alive protection to studying born-alive protection. That amendment, #2292s, was co-sponsored by Sens. Carson and Regina Birdsell (R-Hampstead). It failed to attract support from either of the Democrats on the committee.

Likewise, an amendment by Sen. Birdsell (1023s) to clarify HB 233’s language resulted in another 3-2 committee split, although that amendment was rendered moot by the later vote to change the bill to a study committee.

Sen. Birdsell’s amendment was actually prepared back in March for the Senate to consider. At the time, HB 233’s opponents decried the bill as an attempt to force doctors to tear terminally-ill newborns away from their parents in order to administer futile treatment. The Birdsell amendment was an attempt to allay those fears. Today, committee Democrats voted against the Birdsell amendment and then spoke as if it had never been proposed in the first place.

“Inflammatory…insulting to our medical providers”

Before this week’s committee vote, Senators Whitley and Sherman spoke at some length about their opposition to the bill. Their arguments were along these lines: there’s no such thing as a child born alive after attempted abortion; claiming otherwise is an insult to medical personnel; and the bill whether intentionally or not would force doctors to harm grieving families by imposing extraordinary medical interventions on newborns born in a condition likely to result in neonatal death.

The latter argument is likely to be dragged out yet again before the Senate vote in January, despite the Birdsell amendment that made clear the penalties in the original bill would have applied only to health care providers who withhold treatment from a born-alive child with the intention of causing or hastening the child’s death.

That leaves the no-such-thing argument. When Senator Gannon asked Senator Sherman about children surviving attempted abortion, Sherman said “that’s not the way abortion happens….That’s not something that happens in the state.” Senator Whitley added that claims that abortion survivors exist is “a false narrative,” “inflammatory,” and “insulting to our medical providers….In an abortion, a baby is not born alive.”

Noting that the hearing earlier this year on HB 233 included medical professionals objecting to the bill, Whitley expressed concern that supporting born-alive legislation would send a message to providers “that we don’t believe them.”

I can’t help but think that our state’s failure to collect and report on abortion statistics is a factor here. As long as there are no reported abortion complications, including reports on any children born alive after attempted abortion, abortion-friendly legislators can aver that such children are imaginary.

Ignoring abortion survivors

I don’t know if abortion survivors could persuade any skeptical legislators. Probably not, unless the survivor were a New Hampshire resident, and even then I expect the survivor’s claims would be met with resistance.

Melissa Ohden, a survivor herself, is dedicated to sharing her story and to giving other survivors a voice. She and other survivors have testified before Congress and state legislatures. They are advocates for legislation that protects children born alive after attempted abortion. Those advocates can’t be everywhere. I wish they could. Nothing short of a personal encounter with a survivor will pry some legislators away from the “false narrative” claim to which they cling.

Members of the Abortion Survivors Network do what they can. Some have put their stories on video, where anyone – even a legislator – can view them.

I love how Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor living with cerebral palsy, put it to a Congressional committee: “if abortion is about women’s rights, what were mine?”

Senate to vote on “study”

The amended version of HB 233 to be voted on in the Senate sets up a legislative committee to “study the right of any infant born alive to medically appropriate and reasonable care and treatment.” There are three specified duties for such a committee, according to the amendment: consider any potential conflicts with ethics and end of life care standards; consider any potential conflicts with the Neonatal Resuscitation Program, and examine particular state laws (RSA 329:43 through 329:50) for potential conflicts.

There’s no specified duty to ensure that abortion survivors be protected.

Maybe that’s what half a loaf looks like this year: better than nothing. I believe legislators already know how they’ll vote on born-alive bills, regardless of amendments or language or attempts to find common ground. Their press releases and op-eds are probably already drafted. The only question is whether someone will buck his or her party when the bill comes to the floor.