Opinion: Protect abortion rights

Published: 5/15/2022 8:32:01 AM
Modified: 5/15/2022 8:30:13 AM

Kayla Montgomery is VP of Public Affairs, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Dalia Vidunas is executive director, Equality Health Center. Sandi Denoncour is executive director, Lovering Health Center. Dr. Joshua M. Nathan, Reproductive Services of Manchester.

The draft Supreme Court decision dismantling abortion rights leaked last week is devastating, but we want to be clear that today, abortion remains safe and legal before 24-weeks in New Hampshire.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Equality Health Center, Lovering Health Center, and Reproductive Services of Manchester are proud to continue delivering this critical care, including abortion, in these challenging times.

But our deepest fears are coming true. When Roe v. Wade is overturned in a few weeks and the Supreme Court allows states to determine abortion access, 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion immediately.

As early as next month, nearly half of U.S. women of reproductive age, and more people who can become pregnant, could lose abortion access. The burdens of seeking care will fall hardest on Black, Latino, Indigenous and other people of color, and people with lower incomes, who are disproportionately affected by abortion bans and restrictions.

We know the harm this ruling will cause because we’ve seen it play out in Texas and other states where abortion access has already been subjected to harsh restrictions in anticipation of this ruling. People will have to flee their states to seek abortion, if they can afford to.

In New Hampshire, we have already seen patients from Texas and will continue to see more patients from across the country in the coming months and years.

The final decision will not impact current New Hampshire law. While we do not anticipate immediate changes to abortion access in the Granite State, that could all change depending upon who is elected.

New Hampshire has traditionally enjoyed broad bipartisan support for reproductive rights because the right to safe, legal abortion epitomizes Granite State values of personal privacy and bodily autonomy.

In 1997, then-Governor Shaheen led efforts to repeal pre-Roe anti-abortion laws in coordination with the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. In the decades since, New Hampshire has supported abortion access because both political parties traditionally recognized that these decisions are personal and shouldn’t be made by politicians.

The truth is, most Granite Staters and most Americans support access to safe, legal abortion. If someone has decided to have an abortion, more than 8 in 10 respondents want the experience to be affordable, safe, supportive and nonjudgmental, without added burdens or protesters.

Unfortunately, increasingly gerrymandered districts mean the will of the New Hampshire people is not always carried out by the Legislature.

Just last year, extreme lawmakers snuck an abortion ban into the state budget. On January 1, 2022, New Hampshire’s first abortion ban in modern history took effect. It prohibits abortion at or after 24 weeks with very limited exceptions. It criminalizes doctors and mandates ultrasounds for all people seeking abortion care, at every stage of pregnancy, regardless of medical necessity.

UNH Survey Center polling shows New Hampshire’s abortion ban is deeply unpopular, with two-thirds of Granite Staters opposed to it.

We have made important progress this year to add an exception for fatal fetal diagnoses to the abortion ban and repeal the ultrasound mandate, but this cruel law caused needless harm for six months. This legislation doesn’t expand access to care, it solves a problem that anti-abortion politicians created.

We are grateful for the brave women and families who came forward to share their stories of needing access to abortion care later in pregnancy. Loving mothers who, when faced with unthinkable news that their child could not survive outside their womb, chose to end their child’s suffering.

The story of New Hampshire’s abortion ban illustrates just how precarious abortion rights are in New Hampshire right now.

It has never been enough to just claim to be pro-choice.

We must ensure access to the full range of reproductive health care, including fully funding the state Family Planning Program to ensure everyone has access to quality, affordable preventive care, including contraception and cancer screenings.

We must protect abortion in the courts and support judges in New Hampshire who believe that abortion is a fundamental right.

And we must make sure that our state legislators protect these rights.

As New Hampshire’s trusted abortion providers, we know that banning abortion does not take away people’s need to access abortion care. Patients should not face the shame and overwhelming hurdles that will ultimately come from this decision.

From the ballot box to the halls of the State House to our health centers, we will do everything we can to help people access abortion care safely, no matter what.

Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301


© 2021 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy