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Two years after federal abortion protections removed, the issue remains front and center

Carla O’Rourke, left, organized a reproductive rights protest on Monday, June 24 in front of the State House in Concord. Jennifer Nachbur, right, holds a sign.
Amanda Pirani
Carla O’Rourke, left, organized a reproductive rights protest on Monday, June 24 in front of the State House in Concord. Jennifer Nachbur, right, holds a sign.

The two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that removed federal protections for abortion is spurring both political parties in New Hampshire to try to leverage the issue with voters.

At a state GOP press conference on Monday, chairman Chris Ager said his party will spend what he called a "six figure amount" to promote a 2021 state law that outlawed almost all abortions after 24 weeks. That law wasn’t directly altered by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

"We believe this will be a net positive issue for Republicans, and that's why we are spending money on it,” he said. “In the past, it's been a positive for the Democrats, and they've focused on it, and spent money on it. We've pivoted away from talking about it in the past. Those days are over."

Polling indicates most voters in New Hampshire are comfortable with the current abortion law. But it continues to be a political lightning rod.

Chants of “my body, my choice,” could be heard during the press conference, as over 30 protestors gathered in front of the State House.

Carla O’Rourke, who's lived in southern New Hampshire for more than a decade, organized the rally. She said she doesn't have much experience with activism, but said the importance of protecting reproductive rights motivated her to take action.

“It's a lot to go out of your way to take a day off of work, to learn how to get permits for organizing, to stop being such an introvert and and reach out to others to collectively make noise and draw attention to something so important to me and to what should be everyone really, but especially women,” she said.

Anne Myers, from Deerfield, is a mother of three and attended the protest with her 11-year-old daughter, Genevieve. She says she’s watching the governor’s race closely.

“We are all watching our state and local legislators and talking with people on a local level to make sure that fundamental rights are represented all the way through the State House,” she said.

As far as New Hampshire’s abortion policies go, “I just think we need to hold the line,” Meyers said.

On Monday evening, several hundred gathered in the State House plaza for what Democrats billed as a "Dobbs mobilization event."

The entire congressional delegation spoke. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen mocked Chris Ager, by pointing to thestate Republican platform, which calls for a Life at Conception Act.

"They promised us they are not going to do anything more to roll back women's reproductive freedoms. Do we believe them?” she asked the crowd.

“No way,” people responded.

Democrats in New Hampshire see abortion as a way to mobilize the voters they'll need for President Joe Biden to defeat Donald Trump, and for Democrats to gain ground in Concord in the upcoming general election.

State polling shows most people in New Hampshire -- including GOP voters -- support abortion rights. But polling also shows support for the state's current limits on abortion.

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