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Bill to change N.H's abortion law heads to Sununu's desk

In their discussion of the bill Thursday, lawmakers referenced stories New Hampshire women had shared about their own experiences carrying non-viable fetuses.
Gaby Lozada
/
NHPR
In their discussion of the bill Thursday, lawmakers referenced stories New Hampshire women had shared about their own experiences carrying non-viable fetuses.

A bill that would change New Hampshire’s abortion law, which currently bans all procedures after 24 weeks, now heads to the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu. Senate lawmakers voted Thursday 19-5 to pass it.

The bill Senate lawmakers passed Thursday adds a new exception for abortions after 24 weeks in the case of a fatal fetal anomaly. It does not include exceptions for rape or incest. The bill also changes the recently adopted ultrasound requirement for all abortions, to only mandate an ultrasound if a health provider thinks a fetus may be 24 weeks.

Both the ultrasound mandate and the 24-week abortion ban were put in place by Republican lawmakers and Sununu last year. The law also criminalizes and fines doctors who perform an abortion after 24 weeks for any reason other than to protect the life of the pregnant person. Democratic-led efforts to fully repeal the current law failed in both chambers earlier this year.

In their discussion of the bill Thursday, lawmakers referenced stories that New Hampshire women had shared about their experiences carrying a non-viable fetus. One story lawmakers highlighted was that of Lisa Akey of Brookline. Akey is currently at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center for constant monitoring of her complex pregnancy.

"Many of us have spoken directly to Lisa,” said Sen. Becky Whitley. “She learned at 21 weeks that one of her twins will not survive, and in fact, could cause harm or death to the healthy twin."

Sununu has already expressed his support for the bill.

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