With two stubborn, diametrically opposed sides, the country’s abortion debate has moved very little in either direction since Roe v. Wade 40 years ago. While polls indicate most Americans do not support overturning the landmark supreme court decision to allow abortions, many do support some limitations on the procedure. And it’s in this direction that many state legislatures have swung recently, with a record number of restrictions passed since 2010. While this trend is changing the landscape for abortion access in some parts of the country, New England continues to be an exception.
This year, several states have passed or are debating to pass more restrictions on abortion, The toughest being in North Dakota’s which has banned the procedure after six weeks. But in New Hampshire some predict the long time abortion-rights stance of Governor Maggie Hassan should mean a status quo here.. We’ll examine what’s behind these trends, statewide and nationwide and what it could mean for the future of laws in the Granite State.
Jennifer Frizzell – Senior policy advisor for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England
It’s been forty years since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. Over the decades, abortion policy in the Granite State has fluctuated between lighter and tighter restrictions on abortion. Thursday on the Exchange, we’ll look at where this issue stands in our state today…and where it may go.
Susan Arnold - Chair of NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire
Fran Wendleboe - Assistant Secretary of the NH Republican State Committee, Former Republican Representative from New Hampton
While voters say economic issues are their top concern, abortion is also a high priority this year. In a recent Gallup Poll, nearly two-thirds of voters said it’s an important factor in their decision.
But when you have a pro-choice Republican running against a pro-choice Democrat, abortion doesn’t seem like an obvious lightning-rod issue.
Governor Lynch has vetoed a bill banning so-called “partial birth abortions.” The bill was the only anti-abortion bill that made it through the legislature this session.
Late term abortions, also known as partial birth abortions, are already outlawed under federal law. But according the Governor’s spokesman Colin Manning, the Governor was concerned by a provision that would require a second opinion before a woman could receive the procedure even if her life were threatened by the pregnancy.
Thursday, members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee considered a bill that would ban public funding of facilities that provide abortion. Opponents of the bill, which has already been approved by the House, say it could jeopardize $700 million in federal Medicaid funds. The bill's sponsor, Republican of Rochester Warren Groen, says preventing the state from funding abortion is a smarter way to use scare with public dollars.
The NH house has voted to require women to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion.
The so-called women’s right to know bill had to be pared back to win final house passage. Penalties for doctors were stripped, as was the requirements that abortion providers give women seeking an abortion specific information about abortion risks, including a contested claim linking aborts to breast cancer. According to the final amendments lead author Republican Tammy Simmons of Manchester, limiting the proposal to a simple 24 waiting period is a common sense compromise.
October Baby tells the story of 19-year-old Hannah, a first-year college student, who leaves home on a search for her birth mother. In many ways, it's a Hollywood-style road trip movie dealing with questions of identity, but at the movie's core is also a vigorous message about abortion.
In one scene, Hannah tracks down a nurse who worked at the health clinic where her birth mother had sought an abortion — one that failed when Hannah was born prematurely.
Last year, the legislature adopted a parental notification law, over Governor Lynch’s veto. Now, three House bills would further raise the threshold for abortion, including one that’s attracted the most attention: requiring doctors give women detailed information about fetal development while considering abortion.