NH lawmakers who support abortion rights sound the alarm

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 4:48 PM EDT
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CONCORD, N.H. (WCAX) - Reaction to the news that the Supreme Court could strike down Roe v. Wade has rippled across the country including in New Hampshire where some lawmakers say the state is not doing enough to protect women’s reproductive rights.

“It’s not only been in crisis but it’s been heading for an even larger crisis for at least the last two years,” said Sen. Sue Prentiss, D-Lebanon.

At the beginning of this year, abortions after 24 weeks were banned in New Hampshire. It was attached to the budget bill Gov. Chris Sununu signed, and also includes possible criminal charges for doctors who perform late-term abortions.

Recent attempts to codify legal abortion into law in New Hampshire have been tabled by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

And a new bill up for debate would repeal protester buffer zones near clinics which are intended to minimize harassment of women seeking an abortion.

“All of these things add up to what is a crisis that’s been brewing and is now moving forward,” Prentiss said.

A small group of abortion-rights activists stood outside the Statehouse in New Hampshire Tuesday.

Sununu, a Republican, says he supports them. In a statement, Sununu said: “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. So long as I am governor, these health care services for women will remain safe and legal.”

That bill adds an exception to the late-term ban for “abnormalities incompatible with life.”

“This is a bill that the governor signed to restrict access to abortion and now some of the more horrendous and onerous are being rolled back due to political pressure,” said Cinde Warmington, the lone Democrat on the New Hampshire Executive Council.

Warmington says Sununu is also responsible for defunding family planning providers across the state and appointing anti-abortion judges.

“The governor is not a pro-choice governor,” Warmington said.

In contrast, Vermont lawmakers are moving forward with an amendment to the state Constitution that protects a woman’s choice.

“We could become an island and that is what I believe we are heading toward when I say we are at a crisis point,” Prentiss said.

The New Hampshire Senate meets Thursday which could be one of the last opportunities this session to make any additional changes to the Granite State’s current abortion laws.

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