New Hampshire

The State of Abortion Laws in NH After Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

The majority leader of the New Hampshire House has said the public should not expect Republicans in the Legislature to further tighten state abortion laws

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Of all the states in New England, New Hampshire may be the closest to making abortion illegal now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, though no change is imminent.

New Hampshire currently bans abortion after 24 weeks and requires the patient to receive an ultrasound. The law was passed in January and, this month, an exemption was added for cases in which the fetus has been diagnosed with "abnormalities incompatible with life."

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In the wake of the Supreme Court decision Friday, ending five decades where the right to abortions was guaranteed at the federal level, Gov. Chris Sununu said the status quo remained in place.

“Regardless of this Supreme Court decision, access to these services will continue to remain safe, accessible, and legal in New Hampshire," said Sununu, a Republican who's been supportive of abortions, in a statement.

He had promised to uphold access to abortion when a draft of the opinion striking down Roe leaked last month, and legislation aimed at doing that has been tabled.

“I’m a pro-choice governor and as long as I am governor, we are going to remain a pro-choice state,” Sununu said at the time. He also said he would sign any law codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade in New Hampshire.

Current law in effect since January bans abortion at 24 weeks in New Hampshire and requires the patient receives an ultrasound.

But Sununu has also has boasted, “I’ve done more on the pro-life issue than anyone,” and the head of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Kayla Montgomery, has noted to NBC10 Boston that it was "Sununu who signed New Hampshire's first abortion ban in modern New Hampshire history just last year."

There's been lots of legislative action on the subject recently, and not just the new late-term abortion ban. Anticipating the Supreme Court action, Democrats this year tried unsuccessfully to enshrine abortion rights into state law and the state constitution.

Jason Hennessey, president of New Hampshire Right to Life, in May ran down a list of anti-abortion laws passed in New Hampshire in recent years: “We started last decade with parental notification. And then we updated our criminal statutes to recognize an unborn child who was killed through a crime. And, and then just last year, we passed a couple of bills that were landmark statutes for New Hampshire for instance, to prohibit state funding from going to controversial abortion providers, as well as to protect the unborn at the point of viability, 24 weeks. And we've also passed the privacy constitutional amendment, and so this is a progression moving towards recognizing individual freedoms and rights for our state.”

The Supreme Court decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization overturned a right established by other justices in the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

The Legislature won’t return until fall, when there will be a one-day session to take up vetoed bills, and it would take a two-thirds majority vote to introduce new legislation then.

The majority leader of the New Hampshire House has said the public should not expect Republicans in the Legislature to further tighten state abortion laws. But anti-abortion lawmakers who have filed bills in the past are expected to try again.

New Hampshire's Legislature is controlled by Republicans. All its members, and Sununu, face reelection this fall.

People in the Granite State asked about the decision Friday had a variety of opinions.

"I think it should be left up to the states and I think that's what it did. I — constitutionally, it's sound to me, what the decision was," said Bob Degante of Manchester.

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