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Sununu on podcast interview: 'I’ve done more on the pro-life issue, if you will, than anyone'

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu
Dan Tuohy
When he’s talked about the 24-week abortion ban here, Sununu has emphasized that he identifies as a pro-choice governor and has not publicly described the ban as an anti-abortion effort.

Asked in a podcast interview what abortion restrictions he’d put in place if he had his choice, Gov. Chris Sununu defended the 24-week abortion ban he signed last year and boasted he was the first Republican governor in decades to sign any ban.

“I’ve done more on the pro-life issue, if you will, than anyone,” he told Greg Corombos, co-host of the national podcast “Three Martini Lunch,” which describes itself as “a funny, edgy, and fast-paced podcast of the day’s major political stories.”

When he’s talked about the 24-week abortion ban here, Sununu has emphasized that he identifies as a pro-choice governor and has not publicly described the ban as an anti-abortion effort.

Sununu said during the interview that his support for banning most abortions after 24 weeks is in line with most Americans and 44 states.

After the clip circulated on social media Wednesday, Sen. Tom Sherman, a Rye Democrat hoping to unseat Sununu, and the state’s Democratic Party put out statements condemning Sununu’s comments.

“Chris Sununu has repeatedly shown the women of New Hampshire that he can’t be trusted to stand up for them,” said Sherman, a gastroenterologist. “As a doctor, I’ve spent my entire career building trust with my patients. There is no greater responsibility because once you break that trust you cannot get it back. This governor has repeatedly broken the trust of Granite State women and is now bragging about it to Washington insiders.”

Party spokesperson Monica Venzke accused Sununu of catering to “the far-right, anti-choice extremists” in the Republican Party.

“Granite State women cannot trust a word he says, especially when it comes to our reproductive rights. Chris Sununu will continue to lie to us and strip us of our rights for his own political gain,” Venzke said.

Asked for comment, Sununu spokesman Ben Vihstadt reiterated points Sununu made in the interview.

“Like a majority of Americans, the governor supports limiting abortions in months seven, eight, and nine,” he said. “Like virtually every other state, New Hampshire now has laws on the books that limit late-term abortions. Regardless of any Supreme Court decision, that won’t change the fact that these services will remain safe, legal, and accessible in New Hampshire.”

New Hampshire’s ban allows for abortion after 24 weeks only if the mother’s health or life is at risk. Sununu said he will sign a bill headed to his desk adding an exception for a fetus that will not survive outside of the womb.

Unlike some other states, however, New Hampshire’s law does not make exceptions for rape or incest, and it carries criminal and civil penalties for physicians who violate it.

Sununu addressed abortion in a wide-ranging, nearly 50-minute interview posted Wednesday.

About 30 minutes into the conversation, Corombos noted Sununu issued a statement after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

“Probably the less pleasant section of the interview here, governor,” Corombos said. “You pretty quickly put out a statement saying, quote, as a pro-choice governor I am committed to upholding Roe v. Wade, which is why I’m proud of the bipartisan bill (adding exceptions for fatal fetal anomalies) that is headed to my desk this year. … So long that I am governor, these health care services for women will remain safe and legal.”

“People like me grind our teeth upon reading that,” Corombos told him.

He went on to ask Sununu what abortion law he would put in place if the decision was his alone.

“Well, look, I’m the first governor in 40 years to sign an abortion ban. Republican governors before me never signed that. I’ve done more on the pro-life issue, if you will, than anyone. And and I believe, as most Americans do, that there should be a ban on abortions in months seven, eight, and nine. We got that done. And that was a 40-year challenge, and we actually did it.”

The host asked Sununu how his position will figure into the governor’s race. Sununu said he expected to get criticism from both sides of the issue.

“Democrats will say I’m too pro-life. Folks on the extreme will say I’m too pro-choice,” he said. “This is New Hampshire. We’re an in-the-middle state on this issue. I don’t mean to say I’m in the middle, but I believe in a reasonable ban to be put in place. We did that.”

Sununu went on to say he felt the ban that came to his desk had “really aggressive provisions that were completely unreasonable.”

He urged lawmakers this year to pass the bill making an exception for fatal fetal anomalies and also supported exceptions for rape and incest.

“I worked hard to kind of pull back on that because it didn’t make logical sense to have that kind of stuff in there,” he said. “A ban on the late-term abortions, as most states have, is exactly where we need to be.”

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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