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New Hampshire Senate rejects codifying abortion rights

Dan Tuohy
New Hampshire State House.

The New Hampshire Senate on Thursday refused to affirm abortionas an explicit right, but lawmakers are still considering a slew of bills on both sides of the issue.

The Republican-led Senate voted 14-10 along party lines to reject a bill that would have codified abortion in state law. Opponents said it was unnecessary because current law, which prohibits abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, is clear.

"It's very clear in my mind with the Fetal Protection Act that we passed, yes you can have an abortion up to the 24th week, no questions asked," said Sen. Sharon Carson, a Republican from Londonderry. "So why do we need to codify it someplace else? To make it less confusing? That is not going to happen. The law is the law."

Democrats argued that codifying abortion rights was necessary after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

"I don't believe the law is clear," said Sen. Becky Whitley, a Democrat from Hopkinton. "The law is silent. What the law is very clear on are restrictions 24 weeks and above, but there is nothing that you can pick up in a statute book that says you are free from governmental intrusion up to 24 weeks. So to me, the law is unclear and ambiguous."

How NH lawmakers are weighing changes to the state's abortion laws post-Roe

The House has yet to vote on a similar bill, along with half a dozen others related to abortion. Some would further restrict abortion, while others seek to repeal the current abortion ban or remove the criminal penalties associated with it.

New Hampshire had no restrictions on abortion until 2021, when Gov. Chris Sununu signed a state budget into law that included the 24-week ban.

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