Is abortion legal in New Hampshire? New Hampshire state law doesn't explicitly allow abortion, but the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade means the procedure is legal here, with some restrictions.
The New Hampshire Legislature continues to work through a variety of bills regarding how abortion is regulated in the state, many of which are controversial throughout the political spectrum.
About abortion procedures in New Hampshire
The latest tally identified 12 facilities that provide abortion in New Hampshire. Four of these were abortion clinics. In general, abortions may also take place in nonspecialized clinics, private physicians’ offices, or hospitals. Doctors, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants can perform abortions in New Hampshire.
As of 2014, around 60% of New Hampshire counties had no clinics offering abortion services. In that year, there were about 2,540 pregnancies terminated in the Granite State. New Hampshire made up .3% of all the abortions that took place in the United States that year.
The parent or guardian of a minor must receive 48 hours' notice before an abortion is performed. There is an exception to this rule for medical emergencies.
Late term and “partial-birth” abortion
There are no restrictions on abortion in New Hampshire based on the gestational age of the fetus or signs of disability. “Partial-birth” abortions, where a fetus is removed alive from a mother's body before being terminated, are illegal here. There is an exception to this rule only when two physicians agree that the life of the mother is at stake.
In recent years, several bills have been proposed that would prohibit abortion after a set number of weeks. These were all ultimately rejected by the Legislature.
Roe v. Wade in state law
New York recently made headlines by enshrining aspects of Roe v. Wade in state law. New York’s law allows women to have abortions after 24 weeks if their healthcare practitioner deems the baby won’t survive or that having the baby would endanger the woman’s life or health.
Those involved in crafting such legislation in New York and other states point out that President Trump has stated Roe v. Wade should be overturned by the Supreme Court and the issue should return to the states.
There has been no effort yet to change New Hampshire state law to reflect Roe v. Wade.
Reproductive Healthcare Facility Buffer Zone
In 2014, New Hampshire established a 25-foot protest-free buffer zone around reproductive health facilities. This law has never been enforced because doing so would likely lead to lawsuits on the grounds of free speech. There have been several attempts to repeal it in the last few years but all have failed.
State contracts with Planned Parenthood
New Hampshire sometimes contracts with Planned Parenthood for family planning services such as sexually transmitted disease testing, cancer screening, and contraception — but not abortion. These contracts have a rocky history.
In November 2017, the Executive Council narrowly approved a $548,000 contract with Planned Parenthood.
In the past, legislators have taken action to try to prevent the state from making contracts with any health care provider that performs abortions, regardless of whether public funds are utilized for that specific service. So far, those bills have failed.
Tracking data on abortions
It is difficult to say with confidence just how many abortions happen in New Hampshire because there is no state law requiring that providers report statistical data on the abortions they perform.
There have been several proposals in recent years related to gathering data about abortions in New Hampshire. One, HB 158, would have required abortion providers to submit anonymous details about their patients to a state database. The public would be able to view these statistics, including women’s ages, the gestational stages of fetuses, women’s use of contraceptives, and more.
New Hampshire passed a fetal homicide law in 2017. Causing the death of a viable fetus can lead to a charge of second-degree murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide. The law explicitly excludes legal medical abortions.
“New Hampshire should limit access to abortion.”
- While the Roe v. Wade decision ultimately protects a woman’s right to choose abortion, the state should limit access to abortion to protect the rights of the unborn. If a child in the womb has developed to the point where it could live outside of its mother, it deserves to have the full rights of personhood. Therefore, New Hampshire should not allow abortion after viability.
- Fetal homicide laws are a way of seeing that justice is done for mothers who lose their babies as the result of a crime.
- Supporters of state level tracking of abortion statistics in New Hampshire say that it is important for both sides of the debate to know exactly how many abortions are performed each year and other relevant statistics about Granite State women who have abortions. They point out that the Centers for Disease Control’s data often lags 2-3 years behind.
- Some argue that there is not enough regulation of abortion providers. Doctors’ offices – where many of the abortions in New Hampshire take place – are not subject to the oversight of the Dept. Of Health and Human Services the way hospitals and nursing homes are.
- New Hampshire should set specific restrictions on abortion based on the gestational stage of the fetus. In New York, for example, a woman may only choose to have an abortion after 24 weeks if having the baby would put her life or health in danger, or if the baby would not be able to survive after birth. This would prevent women from aborting a fully developed fetus in the late stages of pregnancy, thereby balancing the rights of the woman and the unborn child.
“New Hampshire should not limit access to abortion.”
- The choice to have a child is one with fundamental implications for a woman’s health as well as her economic and emotional long-term well-being. New Hampshire should therefore continue to leave decisions about whether or not to choose abortion in the hands of women and their medical practitioners.
- By granting fetuses "personhood," fetal homicide laws are a back-door way of chipping away at reproductive freedoms.
- The CDC already reports on broad statistics related to abortion in each state. Reporting on individual patients – even anonymously – could put their privacy at risk. Individual reporting could include information about each woman’s age and county of residence, which might prove intimidating to patients.
- Abortion is one of the safest surgical procedures for women in America. Fewer than .05% of women experience complications. By contrast, the illegal abortion procedures women may resort to when lacking access to legal options are very dangerous.
- New Hampshire should not base its abortion laws on gestational stage of the fetus. Instead, women in New Hampshire should continue to be able to choose to end their pregnancy up until the point of birth.