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With high court poised to overturn Roe, N.H. legislation protecting abortion access remains tabled

The golden dome atop the New Hampshire State House seen through a window
Allegra Boverman
Gov. Chris Sununu’s office did not immediately respond to the New Hampshire Bulletin when asked if Sununu supports the proposed legislation that’s been tabled or the concept of protecting access in state law.

As the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and delegate abortion law to states, New Hampshire lawmakers have blocked legislation that would enshrine abortion rights in state statute.

The draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, confirmed by the court on Tuesday, says that states, not the court, should decide whether abortion remains legal and under what circumstances.

But the Legislature has halted the two bills, Senate Bill 436 and House Bill 1674, and a proposed constitutional amendment that would have prevented the state from restricting access to abortion in New Hampshire.

All have been laid on the table by either the House or Senate. Passing either at this point in the session would require a two-thirds vote by both chambers.

Gov. Chris Sununu, who signed the state’s new 24-week abortion ban last year, issued a statement Tuesday morning in response to the draft opinion. He argued that a bill that would partially pare back the new abortion ban “expands access.”

“As a pro-choice governor, I am committed to upholding Roe v. Wade, which is why I am proud of the bipartisan bill headed to my desk this year that expands access,” he said. “So long as I am governor, these health care services for women will remain safe and legal.”

Asked about the statement Tuesday, Kayla Montgomery, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England/Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund, did not characterize the bill as an expansion of access.

“To be clear, it was Gov. Sununu who signed New Hampshire’s first abortion ban in modern New Hampshire history just last year,” she said at a press conference.

The bill would add an exception to the 24-week abortion ban for fetuses that would not survive outside the womb. The law makes exceptions only for a mother’s life or health. Efforts to add exceptions for rape and incest and remove the criminal and civil penatlies for physicians who violate the law have failed this session.

Sununu’s office did not immediately respond when asked if Sununu supports the proposed legislation that’s been tabled or the concept of protecting access in state law.

Other bills seeking to repeal the 24-week ban – Senate Bill 399 and House Bill 1673– were amended to clarify only when an ultrasound must be performed prior to an abortion.

In July, the University of New Hampshire Survey Center said its polling showed that the new 24-week ban is “unpopular” with Granite Staters, with one-third of respondents supporting it. More than half – 56 percent – said they strongly (49 percent) or somewhat (7 percent) oppose it.

New Hampshire Bulletin is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. New Hampshire Bulletin maintains editorial independence.

Contact Editor Dana Wormald for questions: Follow New Hampshire Bulletin on Facebook and Twitter.

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