NH Senate Votes Along Party Lines Against Enshrining Reproductive Rights in Law

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Paula Tracy photo

People in favor of reproductive rights gathered Thursday at the State House.

CONCORD, NH – Today, the New Hampshire Senate voted 14-10 along party lines to reject SB 181, legislation that would enshrine abortion rights in state statute before 24-weeks.

Republican Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, released the following statement on the defeat of Senate Bill 181:

“In 2021 the New Hampshire Senate passed the Fetal Life Protection Act, allowing women to make the choice to have an abortion within the first six months of pregnancy and prohibiting abortion through the final 7th, 8th, and 9th months.

“My Democratic colleagues who previously stood in opposition to this law would reinforce it through SB181. Why are they now voting to ban abortions at 24 weeks?” Birdsell asked.

Democratic Senators Rebecca Perkins Kwoka of Portsmouth and Assistant Democratic Leader Becky Whitley of Hopkinton released the following joint statement:

“Today, Senate Republicans decided they were comfortable leaving our rights unprotected, even after tens of millions of folks lost the constitutional right to access abortion following the Dobbs decision. For a party that touts our ‘Live Free or Die’ motto, they’ve left half the population with less freedom.

“It is our job as elected officials to fill in the legal void left when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, particularly because current New Hampshire law explicitly states that there is no affirmative right to an abortion. New Hampshire law is silent on whether individuals have the right to be free from governmental intrusion when seeking an abortion. SB 181 would have filled that legal void and made clear to Granite Staters that we value reproductive freedom and the right to bodily autonomy.

“Women deserve better. They deserve respect for their medical decisions. They deserve privacy for their families. They deserve politicians who will protect what it truly means to build a family – and all the hard realities and truths that come with it. They deserve choice.”

The Access to Abortion-care Act would not amend any current state abortion laws, but would provide critical assurance to Granite Staters in this post-Roe environment.

An overwhelming majority of people signing in for the public hearing on January 31 supported SB 181: 1,430 people signed in to support the Access to Abortion-care Act, with just 424 opposed.

After today’s vote, Liz Canada, Advocacy Manager at Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, released the following statement:

“While we are disappointed by today’s vote, we are not disheartened. Granite Staters are counting on lawmakers to protect their right to make personal, private health care decisions without government interference and we won’t back down from the fight to protect abortion rights in New Hampshire. We will continue working to advance the Access to Abortion-care Act as it is considered across the hall in the House of Representatives.”

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