Concord, NH – Today the New Hampshire House voted non-concur on a Senate amendment to a bill (HB 560) that would have put the rights of pregnant women at risk by establishing separate, legal rights for a fetus. In voting non-concur, the House effectively struck down HB 560 for the duration of the 2016 legislative session.
If enacted, HB560 would have established a dangerous precedent in New Hampshire law by treating a fetus as having legal rights separate and distinct from a woman. This bill is part of a national anti-choice strategy ultimately targeted at overturning Roe v. Wade. The New Hampshire legislature has repeatedly rejected similar bills over the past two decades. In 2012, Governor Lynch vetoed a similar bill that did pass.
“New Hampshire law already recognizes violent crimes resulting in loss of a pregnancy. Our State imposes enhanced penalties when criminal acts result in miscarriage or stillbirth,” stated Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of ACLU of New Hampshire. “We commend those New Hampshire legislators who rejected this HB 560 because it is inconsistent with existing New Hampshire law and because it dangerously restricts rights of pregnant women.”
“For more than forty years, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that under Roe v. Wade, the Constitution protects every woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions about abortion. HB 560 would have opened the door to pregnant women being targeted for their behavior during pregnancy. Under similar laws in other states, even those that exempt women from criminal liability, pregnant women are more likely to be punished for behaviors that are not criminalized for other people,” said Susan Arnold, Board Chair of NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire.
New Hampshire has a strong tradition of respecting women and doctors to make personal, private decisions about pregnancy and childbearing. The Granite State currently has some of the best public health outcomes in the country for women, including the best perinatal and maternal health outcomes. The defeat of HB 560 helps preserve this legacy by blocking legislation that is not only unnecessary, but would have put women’s choice at risk.