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Democrats, Providers Criticize New Abortion Restrictions In N.H.

abortion protest in San Francisco - 333
Steve Rhodes
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Flickr Creative Common

Reproductive health advocates joined Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) Friday to discuss new abortion restrictions passed a day earlier by Republicans in Concord.

The GOP-backed measure, included in the state’s two-year budget, prohibits abortions at or after 24-weeks gestation, and imposes a mandatory ultrasound on patients before all abortions. The budget also mandates a financial audit on all reproductive health facilities that receive family planning funds.

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“This is, from my history in this state, unprecedented, that in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state, we would see an extreme legislative position to try and control women’s bodies, to get between women and their health care provider,” Shaheen said.

Gov. Chris Sununu has said he supports the 24-week ban on abortions, but said other provisions were authored by lawmakers. The new ban and ultrasound provision would go into effect in 2022, pending any possible court challenges.

During a roundtable arranged by Shaheen, family planning providers called the new abortion restrictions an overreach. 

“Government and politicians have no place in the conversations between providers and patients, whether it is reproductive health care matters, cancer, hypertension, whatever it may be,” Ken Gordon with Coos County Family Health Services said. “This is just not a role for government.”

Family planning providers also raised concerns about impending budget shortfalls, stemming from cuts made by the Trump Administration, which state lawmakers declined to address in the next spending package.

The new abortion restrictions were hailed by abortion rights opponents, and are the first significant abortion laws passed in New Hampshire since a parental notification requirement was implemented a decade ago.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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