CONCORD – This morning the New Hampshire House and Senate voted to adopt an Enrolled Bills Committee Amendment to SB 66 – a fetal personhood measure recognizing a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time in New Hampshire law. The amended bill now makes its way to Governor Chris Sununu’s desk.
During today’s floor debate, House Speaker Shawn Jasper confirmed the enrolled bill amendment was put forth because SB 66, as passed by both chambers, would have allowed pregnant women to commit murder with impunity. Enrolled bill amendments are rarely voted on by the full House and Senate because they are normally restricted to typographical or technical errors. Today, the House and Senate voted to adopt a substantive enrolled bill amendment significantly changing the structure of the exceptions to SB 66’s expansion of New Hampshire’s homicide laws.
“We urge Governor Sununu to veto this legislation,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Hampshire. “The fact that this last minute amendment was needed to avoid some of SB 66’s outrageous unintended consequences demonstrates that the bill was not fully vetted. The amendment adopted today is also extremely confusing, jeopardizing critical exemptions intended to protect pregnant women and their physicians from unjust murder and other homicide charges.”
Additional unintended consequences of SB 66 not addressed in the enrolled bills amendment includes the bill’s medically inaccurate definition of a fetus, which would be the only definition of a fetus in New Hampshire law. Judges could reasonably look to this medically inaccurate definition when interpreting the term “fetus” as it appears in other statutes including: the assault statute; the vital records statute; or the statute governing organ donation.
Existing New Hampshire law currently provides for severe enhanced penalties for violent crimes resulting in the loss of pregnancy, without the outrageous unintended consequences that exist within SB 66. Under that existing New Hampshire law, a person may be prosecuted for First Degree Assault if they purposely or knowingly cause injury to another resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth—a class A Felony carrying a sentence of up to 15 years.