Pro-Life Bills Defeated in New Hampshire Legislature

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

Concord, NH ( - By a vote of 185 to 176, the New Hampshire House of Representatives rejected a bill which would have outlawed late term or partial birth abortions and, by a vote of 209-145, the House also rejected parental notification legislation, which would have required the notification of a parent or guardian, should a minor child wish to have an abortion.

The vote against passage of the partial birth abortion ban was bi-partisan, attracting 115 Democrats, 69 Republicans and one Independent. On the other side, 147 Republicans and 29 Democrats voted in favor of the ban.

Even if it had passed the House, the bill's fate in the Senate was considered uncertain at best. The Senate is equally divided with 12 Republicans and 12 Democrats. The upper chamber would have required a two-thirds vote to even allow debate to occur.

The House bill would have allowed the state to charge physicians, who perform abortions, with a felony crime. If convicted, the doctor could face a two-year jail term or be fined up to $100,000. The mother would not be charged.

The bill carried an exception, which would have allowed the late term procedure to be performed, in order to save the mother's life.

Proponents of the ban were encouraged by the closeness of the vote. "Regardless of where we join the line on abortion, I think this procedure is particularly heinous," said Rep. Mary Ellen Martin, a Democrat. Martin also characterized the procedure as "dangerous to women."

Republican State Rep. Sandra Keans faulted ban proponents and said, "They would have you believe this procedure is performed on full-term, healthy, Gerber babies. This is simply not true." According to the lawmaker, less than one third of one percent of all abortions are late term procedures.

Several opponents of the bill said the legislation amounted to an unconstitutional violation of a woman's privacy, while others, including Republican Rep. Aida Millham, a former nurse, said passing this ban, could lead to others. "The bill is vague enough to possibly include a ban on any abortions through the vaginal canal...this is a private medical decision that should be made by women and their families, not the legislature."

Partial birth abortions have been banned in 30 states. However, courts have frequently blocked enforcement of the bans.

Under the parental notification bill, doctors would have been required to provide written notification to the parents or guardians of all women under 18, seeking to terminate a pregnancy. The bill would have also created a process of judicial review, at the district court level, in the event a minor felt she could not discuss the issue with a parent or guardian.

"This not a step to repeal Roe Vs. Wade," according to Republican Representative Richard Brothers, who voted for the measure. "A minor can't have an ear pierced without parental consent or buy a pack of cigarettes."

But opponent Bette Lasky, a Democrat, said, "There is little to gain from such legislation and much to loose for young women who feel they must terminate a pregnancy."