CONCORD, N.H. — In 2021, 19 states added more than 100 restrictions to abortion access, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
New Hampshire is one of them. A new law goes into effect there on January 1.
The Family Life Protection Act was written into the state budget earlier this year and was signed by Governor Chris Sununu. The new law will ban abortions after 24 weeks. While it includes an exception for the life and health of the mother, it doesn’t for the fetus. An ultrasound will be required before all abortions are performed.
A health care provider who violates this new law could face up to seven years in prison.
“There’s a lot of us in New Hampshire who believe that an unborn child is a person, and we have been working for those people’s human rights for a long time,” said Jason Hennessey, president of New Hampshire Right to Life.
With a major case now before the Supreme Court of the United States that could overturn Roe vs. Wade, Hennessey acknowledges a window is opening for proponents of abortion bans.
“We’re very hopeful, but we have to be humble,” Hennessey said. “Many people are praying about this, that our nation could change in that direction.”
Other bills are being drafted in New Hampshire, where Republicans currently control the governor’s office and chambers of the state legislature. For example, one would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Another would empower a biological father to seek a court injunction to stop termination.
“To be clear, an abortion ban is dangerous,” said Kayla Montgomery of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “It’s the first abortion ban in modern New Hampshire history.”
Montgomery says reproductive freedom is facing a crisis nationally and is taken aback. New Hampshire is now joining states like Texas and Mississippi by rolling back access.
“It’s surprising because New Hampshire has a long bipartisan tradition of supporting privacy, particularly when it comes to personal medical decisions,” added Montgomery. “This flies in the face of Granite State values.
Boston 25 News asked people in downtown Concord what they think of the new law.
One man said, “I think it’s an extremely bad idea to criminalize terminations and force doctors to choose between going to jail.
A woman told us, “I am not anti-abortion, but I prefer pro-life when it’s possible to let the child have a life.”
Another man added, “When you dig into the nuances of it, the best solution is not outlawing it. It’s understanding the circumstances of trying to handle them well.”
Most abortions are performed by 16 weeks, but the symbolism of this new law is still considered significant.
Hennessey said, “There’s a lot more momentum on one side than the other.”
Montgomery countered, “We’re in a crisis moment. There’s no doubt about it.”
Massachusetts state law currently allows abortion to be performed at 24 weeks or after under certain conditions. First, if a physician determines a mother’s life or her physical or mental health, is endangered. Another provision allows a late-term abortion if there is a lethal fetal anomaly with the fetus or if the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside the uterus.
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