By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Tom Sherman criticized Gov. Chris Sununu Monday in a news conference for calling himself “pro-choice.”
“He continues to go around giving interviews saying he’s pro-choice,” Sherman said. “We’ve seen this many times before.”
Sherman said Sununu said he didn’t want any restrictions on abortion, but signed restrictions into law.
“This is meaningless if he doesn’t have the backbone to do anything about it. And it’s meaningless if he continues to back candidates to federal, state and local office who want to restrict abortion access entirely,” Sherman said.
He said there is no excuse for signing New Hampshire’s first abortion ban.
Although Sununu said he signed it into law to protect the state budget, “he had no problem finding the courage to veto a budget” when he wanted more corporate tax cuts, Sherman said.
As the law currently stands, there are no exemptions for the health of the mother and doctors could be sentenced to up to seven years in jail if they perform an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
“That means women facing tragic complications have to sit and wait until they’re sick enough to legally receive care,” Sherman said.
Ben Vihstadt, Sununu’s spokesman responded: “Let’s be clear: the governor has repeatedly stated he supports removing the criminal provisions in the legislation. This outlandish statement could not be further from the truth and is a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that as State Senator, Tom Sherman sponsored an income tax, voted to increase electric rates, and supported keeping schools closed. Like Massachusetts, Maine, and virtually every other state in America, New Hampshire now has limits on late-term abortion in months 7, 8, and 9 of a pregnancy — and the governor would not support any further restrictions.”
Sherman held the virtual press conference with women impacted by the ban and state leaders who’ve been working to roll it back. Sherman was joined by Lisa Akey, who testified to the legislature from her hospital bed to add exceptions for fatal fetal anomaly to the abortion ban Sununu signed after she found out that one of her twins would not survive and could jeopardize the life of her healthy twin.
“With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Chris Sununu took away my right to defend and protect the life of my child,” Akey said. “I picked up a pen and started writing to Governor Sununu, my local representatives, every New Hampshire State Senator and a number of other Republican lawmakers,” she said.
Akey said she pleaded for help and some, including Sherman visited her in the hospital. But she never heard back from Sununu.
Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, D-Concord said, “Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade and stripped away the rights of hundreds of millions of women across the United States, Chris Sununu continues to say that nothing has changed. Chris Sununu needs to know that for half the population, something very big has changed.”
State Rep. Amanda Elizabeth Toll, D-Keene, also participated.
“Chris Sununu is not pro-choice. The budget he signed into law required invasive and medically unnecessary ultrasounds for anyone seeking abortion care with no exceptions,” Toll said. “Reproductive rights and justice advocates in the legislature did the hard work to undo this crucial requirement. Not Governor Sununu.”