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Molly Kelly: N.H. needs a governor who will be a champion for women

  • Molly Kelly (center) is running to unseat Chris Sununu as New Hampshire’s governor. Paul Steinhauser



For the Monitor
Sunday, July 22, 2018

It is impossible to overstate the threat to women’s reproductive rights posed by Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

During his 2016 campaign, Trump said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. We would be foolish to doubt him, and it appears Judge Kavanaugh aligns well with the president’s goal.

With the Roe decision under threat, state leadership is more important than ever to protect women’s rights. Today, New Hampshire women, regardless of income, face few restrictions when seeking a safe, legal abortion. And generally, Granite State voters favor upholding this right. According to the Pew Research Center, 66 percent of New Hampshire adults support legal abortion, one of the highest figures in the country.

But if Roe were to be overturned, pressure and support could grow for more restrictive laws limiting a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. Unless elected leaders have always championed a woman’s access to a safe, legal abortion, it would be dangerous to rely on them to stand up for this right.

Gov. Chris Sununu is one of those politicians women cannot trust to protect their rights. He claims to be a “pro-choice Republican,” but shortly before the 2016 election, he pledged support for several bills championed by anti-choice voices in New Hampshire. As a member of the Executive Council, he cast the deciding vote against two state contracts funding Planned Parenthood, who he considers “bullies” for simply advocating for women. And since Judge Kavanaugh was nominated, Sununu has dismissed women’s concerns about reproductive rights, refused to even voice concern about the potential justice who could help overturn Roe and failed to outline any action he would take to ensure protections for New Hampshire women in the event Roe is wiped out.

I’ve spent a lifetime, including as a state senator, championing women’s rights, defending Planned Parenthood, and stopping bad legislation restricting women’s access to family planning and contraceptives.

When it comes to women’s health care rights, I’ve always believed in three principles. First, that women must have access to a safe, legal abortion. Second, women have a right to privacy in making a personal health care decision. Third, the government should not interfere with women making these decisions, period.

One of my top priorities as governor, in light of the threat posed by the shifting Supreme Court, would be signing legislation that codifies protections resulting from Roe, stating that “it shall be the public policy of New Hampshire that the state shall not restrict a woman’s exercise of her private decision to terminate a pregnancy.”

Our focus, when it comes to women’s health, must be squarely on protecting this fundamental right.

The stakes for the governor’s race this fall could not be higher. As governor, I will build on my strong, consistent record of defending women’s rights and Planned Parenthood. We must trust women to make their own decisions. I always have, and I always will.

(Molly Kelly is a Democratic candidate for governor and former state senator.)