Republicans put forward more abortion-related bills

Monitor staff
Published: 2/10/2021 12:40:56 PM

Lawmakers heard two bills Wednesday morning that would prevent the use of taxpayer dollars for abortion.

The bills, HB-434 and HB 596, are just the most recent pieces of legislation attempting to limit abortion access. Earlier this week, lawmakers heard several bills that would criminalize abortion, prohibit late-term abortions and remove restrictions on picketing outside abortion clinics.

Vanessa Sheehan, a Milford Republican and the primary sponsor of HB-434, said her bill would merely codify a practice that has existed for years. The state’s budget has prohibited public funding for abortions for years. 

She said the bill would not prohibit Planned Parenthood or other organizations that perform abortions from receiving funding for other services. 

“There is no argument to be made that this bill would have some detrimental impact on women’s health care,” she said. 

Rep. Joe Alexander, a Goffstown Republican, brought forth a similar bill, HB 596, with the added caveat that those in violation of the legislation would be fined. Income from those those fines would be used to support foster care and adoption. 

New Hampshire is among the least restrictive states when it comes to abortion. A group of anti-abortion bills heard last year did not pass the Legislature, which was then led by Democrats.

Opponents of the bills said limiting public funding could prevent young adults at state universities from receiving complete information about their healthcare. 

Elizabeth Canada, the advocacy manager at Planned Parenthood NH, said Granite Staters seeking abortion already must use private insurance or pay out of pocket for the procedure. 

However, she said passing legislation that limits public funds for abortion referrals could force health centers at public schools to make a difficult choice: cease making abortion referrals or take a funding cut. 

“That’s a gag on providers,” Canada said. “This is an impossible and unfair position to put our public colleges and universities in.” 

Jeanne Hruska, political director at the N.H ACLU, said HB-434 the bill would have little to no impact on people with financial means. 

“This bill instead takes direct aim at marginalized people,” she said. “It discriminates against low income individuals and singles them out by denying them medical care.” 

Rep. Amanda Elizabeth Toll, a Keene Democrat, spoke in opposition to the bills. She said even as a privileged young person with ample access to resources and money, her abortion process was daunting and traumatizing. 

She said passing a bill like this would compound the experience, especially for the most marginalized communities in New Hampshire. 

“Having an abortion literally saved my life,” she said. “Maybe not my physical life but the quality of my life.” 

Teddy Rosenbluth bio photo

Teddy Rosenbluth is a Report for America corps member covering health care issues for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. She has covered science and health care for Los Angeles Magazine, the Santa Monica Daily Press and UCLA's Daily Bruin, where she was a health editor and later magazine director. Her investigative reporting has brought her everywhere from the streets of Los Angeles to the hospitals of New Delhi. Her work garnered first place for Best Enterprise News Story from the California Journalism Awards, and she was a national finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists Best Magazine Article. She graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology.

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