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New Hampshire’s New Abortion Laws

Rep. Jeanine Notter

There are times when one really should thank Republicans for their hubris. This is one of them. New Hampshire Republican Representative Jeanine Notter has explained exactly how she came to “write” the new abortion law. Someone else handed her the bill and that same group has offered to pay for its implementation.

Notter, of Merrimack, told the New Hampshire House that “her” bill has been passed in 31 other states and “This is model legislation from Americans [United] for Life.” Their bill included a provision that women seeking an abortion should be told that an abortion raises the risk of breast cancer and mandated that abortion seekers must view a video detailing fetal development. Notter addressed the breast cancer portion, saying “Does abortion increase the risk of breast cancer? It depends on the study. Women should know about the risk.” In defending the video mandate from those who objected to its $100,000 cost, she volunteered that Alabama and Idaho had offered to give New Hampshire their videos free of charge. Those two states have passed the AUL bill, though it is unknown how many voters in Alabama and Idaho know where the bill originated.

Thank you, Rep. Notter, for telling everyone that you did not create this law for the people of New Hampshire, but had it handed to you by an out-of-state anti-abortion group.

The “all abortion, all the time” session of the state legislature voted on an “informed consent”law, a 24-hour waiting period and a ban on elective abortions past 20 gestational weeks. The last law was a redundancy. New Hampshire already banned elective abortions after 20 weeks, allowing them only for preservation of the life of the mother or to “avert the serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” Twenty weeks is the very earliest that a premature baby might survive birth, and since Roe v. Wade, even before the medical advancements that made a birth at 20 weeks viable, it has been understood that abortions after the mid-point of a pregnancy should only be conducted under extraordinary circumstances. The right wing propaganda says that the pro-choice groups want to kill babies, but the fact is we have fought to retain late-term abortions only in the case of maternal life or health or the presence of extraordinary, catastrophic defects in the fetus. Even we acknowledge the viability of fetal life after 20 weeks.

Both the breast cancer “warning” and the video were dropped from the new laws before passage. What is left is the fairly normal range of information given to women before abortions and the 24-hour waiting period. That waiting period is not as burdensome as in Western states like North Dakota where the travel distances to abortion facilities are so long and the facilities are concentrated in one place. One can traverse the state of New Hampshire, north to south, in about four hours in bad weather, half the distance across North Dakota east to west. It is also possible to reach abortion facilities in Vermont or Massachusetts easily from New Hampshire.

New Hampshire’s law, in and of itself is not really remarkable. What is remarkable is the openness with which Rep. Notter admitted that these laws are not being created inside the states and for the people of a particular state, but are originating in an outside group. The longer these battles go on, the more we are seeing that states are no longer making their own laws or their own choices, but being led by groups like Americans United for Life and ALEC. ALEC has written the voter ID laws and anti-union laws that have been adopted in so many Republican-dominated states.

The people of every state deserve to have laws that originate with their state representatives and are desired by the people of that state. We should not be adopting laws that are handed to us from outside interests. What is at stake is the sovereignty of our states. We elect our state legislators to represent us and should eject any who are working for others.

 

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