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Bills to end N.H. restrictions on abortion go before Senate committee

Allegra Boverman

A committee in the state Senate is considering two bills to guarantee abortion rights in New Hampshire. The measures, sponsored by Democrats, face an uphill fight in the GOP-led Senate.

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One bill would codify the right to abortion in the state. The other would repeal the new 24-week ban – which features criminal penalties for doctors and includes no exceptions, in cases of rape, incest or to protect the health of the mother.

Dr. Ilana Cass, head of obstetrics at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, told the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday the current law poorly serves pregnant people and will drive away talented medical providers.

“The law of the land effectively substitutes the judgment of legislators to highly trained obstetricians and neonatologists,” Cass said.

Backers of the 24-week ban, who include Republican leaders in the House and Senate, say it balances the rights of the pregnant and those of the unborn child.

Gov. Chris Sununu has urged lawmakers to add exceptions to the current law and eliminate the ultrasound requirement, though he signed the state budget which allowed these changes last summer.

A committee in the New Hampshire House this week voted to tweak the ultrasound provisions in current law, but rejected the broader changes Sununu sought.

Until this year, New Hampshire was among a handful of states without any gestational limit on abortion, which was a point empasized by critics of rolling back current law.

“That’s what this bill does, it brings us back to a point where there is no restrictions on abortion. Rep. David Love, a Republican from Derry said. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is complete barbarianism (sic).”

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
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