Positive steps towards ensuring abortion access throughout New Hampshire

It has been nearly two years since the New Hampshire legislature placed the government between pregnant people and their doctor. In 2021, as part of the budget bill, New Hampshire prohibited abortions after 24 weeks (with minor exceptions), created a mandatory ultrasound requirement for all abortion care - regardless of gestational age or medical necessity – and criminalized doctors who provide necessary abortion care to their patients. While legislators made some progress last year to rein in these harmful restrictions (restricting the ultrasound mandate and adding an exception for fatal fetal anomaly to the 24-week ban), they fell short of ensuring that pregnant people control their own bodies and futures. 

Today, our legislators had another opportunity to repeal these restrictions. And, they made great progress! 

Abortion is health care, and health care is a human right. Everyone in New Hampshire should have access to safe care regardless of where they live, who they are, or how much money they make. Yet, New Hampshire’s laws put patients at risk and leave pregnant people who may have complications outside of the current exceptions in the law without the care they need – particularly patients without the means to travel to a state that respects the autonomy of pregnant people. 

Today, lawmakers in the House had four opportunities to strengthen abortion access, and passed two of them – HB 88 and HB 224. This is a big deal - and both bills will now cross over to the New Hampshire Senate. 

  • HB 88 would place the right to have an abortion up to 24 weeks into state law (though would not repeal the 24 week ban). New Hampshire is currently the only state in New England without proactive protections for the right to abortion. Legislators voted 199 to 185 to pass the bill. 
  • HB 224 would repeal the criminal and civil penalties from New Hampshire's current 24-week abortion ban. Legislators voted 205 to 178 to pass the bill.  

The good news does not end there. House members also defeated multiple attempts to further restrict access to abortion care. One would have banned abortion at around six weeks with virtually no exceptions. This would have functionally banned almost all abortions in New Hampshire. Legislators voted 271 to 110 to kill the bill. HB 562 would have mandated a 24-hour waiting period for all abortion care, and another bill would have singled out abortion as the only medical procedure subject to reporting requirements under the state's Division of Vital Records. 

These harmful bills were yet another reminder that there is a political project underway in New Hampshire to ban abortion, and the 24-week ban was just phase one.  

It is way past time for our legislators to draw a line in the sand and make clear that pregnant people should be able to seek abortion care without shame, stigma, or unnecessary obstacles. Today we saw major progress toward our goal of ensuring true abortion access and will not stop until we get there!