New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu promised to uphold access to abortion after a leaked draft opinion indicated the Supreme Court could strike down Roe v. Wade, but so far legislation aimed at doing that has been tabled.
A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report released Monday. The U.S. Supreme Court released a statement confirming the authenticity of the Politico report Tuesday.
“I’m a pro-choice governor and as long as I am governor, we are going to remain a pro-choice state,” said Sununu Tuesday. “Regardless of where that goes we‘re going to make sure those services are provided in a safe and legal way here in New Hampshire.”
Current law in effect since January bans abortion at 24 weeks in New Hampshire and requires the patient receives an ultrasound.
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“To be clear, it was governor Sununu, who signed New Hampshire's first abortion ban in modern New Hampshire history just last year,” said Kayla Montgomery, with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
“We think now more than ever, we need to pass a law that codifies the right to have an abortion in New Hampshire.”
Legislation that would prevent the state from restricting access to abortion has been tabled, making New Hampshire the only New England state where this right is not protected.
“I think that the number one question that I would ask your viewers to think about is who is a person and what rights do they deserve?” said Jason Hennessey, President of New Hampshire Right to Life.
The organization opposes a bill awaiting the governor’s signature that would expand access to abortion for fetuses that would not survive after delivery, referred to as fatal fetal anomalies.
“[Roe v. Wade] has prohibited the states from doing their fundamental job, which is to defend liberty for all of its citizens, and so we believe that putting it back to the States allows us to have that discussion within our states and have and have a real impact on protecting our most vulnerable people, the unborn,” said Hennessey.
He points to various anti-abortion laws 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.”
More on Roe v. Wade and reproductive rights
"We are seeing a level of extremism in Concord that is very concerning," said New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan, who is running for re-election. "We need to redouble our efforts at the state level and at the federal level to elect people who will be true champions for women’s freedom."
Sununu said he plans to sign the bill expanding access to abortion into law. He also supports making it protected by state law.
"Absolutely, [if] legislature wants to put a bill on my desk codifying Roe v Wade I’d sign it in a second."
"This is an extremely scary time for patients and for providers. There's a lot of confusion and there will continue to be confusion around the right to have an abortion," said Montgomery. "It is incredibly important that we remind patients that abortion is still safe and legal in New Hampshire."
She said as states enact abortion bans, they have seen people from those parts of the country travel to New England for medical care.
"We have here in Northern New England already seen patients from Texas. And of course as more and more states move to restrict and ban abortion. We will continue to see patients from out of state. Time will tell exactly how many and what that looks like but we are preparing for an increase of patients from around the country."
Earlier this year, the House tabled a bill like Texas’ abortion bill prohibiting abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat. Other pieces of legislation introduced by New Hampshire lawmakers include a bill that would allow health workers to refuse participation in abortion care. Another would eliminate the safety zone that keeps protesters at least 25 feet away from abortion clinics.