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Family Planning Provision Makes It Into N.H. State Budget Deal

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

House and Senate budget negotiators have reached a tentative agreement on a contentious family planning provision that Republicans want in the state budget.

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Under the deal, a proposal to require state-funded family planning providers to physically and financially separate family planning and abortion services would only kick in if a state review found that tax dollars were improperly funding abortion. Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, the architect of the compromise, said the review would be certified by the state's top health official.

“If it's not verified, then the consequences would take effect but until then the provision of these services could go unimpeded,” Bradley said Tuesday during a negotiating session. 

Auburn State Rep. Jess Edwards said the goal of the House Republican caucus was simple.

"All we are trying to do is to make sure when people go into a family planning clinic, that they are going in there to plan a family, and not to be seeking an abortion," Edwards said. 

Federal law bars using public funds for abortion. New Hampshire budgets typically contain a similar provision.

The committee has already reached a deal on a budget provision that would ban abortions after 24 weeks. The ban would make it a felony for doctors to perform abortions after that time in non-emergency situations. The ban includes no exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomalies.

That agreement has garnered pushback from groups like Planned Parenthood New Hampshire, which released a statement calling on Gov. Chris Sununu to veto the budget. 

“Pro-choice governors don’t sign abortion bans,” said Kayla Montgomery, Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, in a press release. 

A letter signed by nearly 200 New Hampshire medical professionals from around the state was sent to the governor this week, also opposing the 24 week ban.

“This language has no health or safety benefit to patients,” the letter reads in part.

Sununu has described himself as pro-choice throughout his political career, but he said that he wouldn’t veto the budget over the restriction. Negotiators have until Thursday to reach a final compromise on the budget plan, before it heads to Sununu’s desk for his signature. 

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
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