How Divided Are We On Abortion?

Jan 30, 2017

Friday's annual March for Life in Washington occurred a week after the Women's March on Washington, which included an abortion-rights message.  And last week, the Trump Administration revived a ban on foreign aid to groups that provide abortion counseling, bolstering anti-abortion groups.  We ask how Americans feel about abortion, 44 years after it became legal --  and whether our laws reflect those feelings.


According to a report, released Jan. 17 by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, abortions in the U.S. declined significantly in 2014 compared with the group’s latest study conducted three years earlier:

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Devon Chaffee of the ACLU says they are focused on three bills regarding reproductive rights in the legislature this session: a  “fetal personhood measure” that would recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a homicide in addition to the mother; a restriction on medically-indicated abortions after 23 weeks; and a bill that requires data collection from abortion providers.

“They’re similar to bills that we’ve seen year after year after year at the statehouse, and they’re really part of a larger strategy.  It’s an incremental strategy that we’re seeing not just here in N.H., but nationwide, to erode a woman’s ability to access abortion and to really undermine the rights that were established in Roe v. Wade.  And so we’re really going to be looking to our state elected officials to ensure that they continue to protect the rights of women in our state to be able to make their own medical decisions.”

Meredith Cook, Director of the Office of Public Policy for the Diocese of Manchester, says they will be focusing on the same three bills in the legislature this session, “but with a very different perspective”.

She says current homicide law does not go far enough.  “It does not recognize a separate crime for the homicide of the child who has died…so it is not recognizing the actual crime that has occurred, the loss that has occurred to that mother, to the family that’s lost their child, so it is not an equivalent crime.”

The ACLU is also focused on a bill that would restrict abortion after 21 weeks.  “It creates certain hoops that a woman and her doctor have to jump through; they’re pretty onerous hoops, in order to terminate a pregnancy,” Chaffee says.  “These are some of the most difficult decisions that women have to make in their lives… and to create additional restrictions on how a woman, along with her physician, are making these determinations pose very concerning risks to the health of pregnant women.”

Shannon McGinley of Cornerstone Action says of the data collection bill: “we are only one of three states that do not have reporting requirements.  So it’s very difficult when people ask questions about what abortions are being done in the state of N.H., where are they being done, who are they being done upon, why are they being done --so that we can better target women’s healthcare.”

Jennifer Frizell, of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, says in addition to these three bills, they’re also concerned about the possible repeal of the abortion clinic buffer zone law, enacted in 2013.  “it’s really been living in a place of limbo because of some court challenges that have consistently been rejected, but nonetheless have kept the implementation of that law from moving forward…The lawsuits that have been pending to date have really been pre-emptive lawsuits, attempting to have the law struck down even before it’s implementation.”