Abortion Restrictions

Citizens Count Editor

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.

Learn more about related debates over contraception 

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. 

Abortion restrictions

Parental notification

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.

Abortion rights

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.

Learn more about free speech issues in New Hampshire

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.  

Fetal homicide

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.

PROS & CONS

"For" Position

“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. 

"Against" Position

“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. 

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Killed in the House

Repeals the protest-free buffer zone around reproductive health facilities.

Killed in the House

Requires any health care provider that provides an abortion to submit information about the patient to the state through an electronic form. Patients and providers would be assigned confidential identification numbers. Under this bill, the public would be able to view aggregate data on abortions, including the woman's age, the woman's county of residence, the gestational age of the fetus, the method of abortion, and the woman's use of contraception.

Tabled in the House

Includes fetuses eight weeks and older as potential victims under murder statutes. This bill also removes the immunity from criminal charges for acts committed by a pregnant woman relative to the fetus.

Tabled in the House

Prohibits abortion after viability, unless the mother's life is in danger, "in cases of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome, or to remove a fetus with severe anomalies incompatible with life."

Interim Study

Requires doctors to provide women with certain information 24 hours before providing an abortion, such as a description of the abortion method, abortion alternatives, and a description of the "probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child."

Killed in the House

Requires a woman to be screened prior to an abortion "to determine if she is a vulnerable person, and in particular if she is seeking an abortion under pressure to do so from other persons."

Killed in the House

Prohibits discrimination against health care providers who conscientiously object to participating in abortions, sterilizations, or artificial contraception.

Tabled in the House

Includes fetuses eight weeks and older as potential victims under murder statutes.

Killed in the House

Requires any health care provider that provides an abortion to submit information about the patient to the state through an electronic form. Patients and providers would be assigned confidential identification numbers. Under this bill, the public would be able to view aggregate data on abortions, including the woman's age, the woman's county of residence, the gestational age of the fetus, the method of abortion, and the woman's use of contraception.

Signed by Governor

Includes fetuses as potential victims under murder statutes. The Senate amended the bill to include only fetuses twenty weeks and older, not just "viable" fetuses.

Tabled in the House

Prohibits abortion after 21 weeks, unless there is a medical emergency. This bill also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to collect data on any abortions.

Killed in the House

Repeals the protest-free buffer zone around reproductive health facilities.

Killed in the House

Prohibits abortions beyond 20 weeks gestation.

Killed in the House

Requires licensing of outpatient abortion facilities by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Killed in the House

Prohibits "dismemberment abortion" except in medical emergencies.

Killed in the House

Prohibits abortion based on genetic abnormality.

Killed in the House

Prohibits abortion beyond 21 weeks and five days' gestation.

Killed in the House

Prohibits depriving an infant of nourishment with the intent to cause or alter the death of an infant during an abortion.

Killed in the House

Prohibits abortions at or after 20 weeks gestation.

Killed in the House

Imposes several requirements on any physician responsible for providing a patient with Mifeprex, an FDA approved drug meant to induce abortion.

Killed in the House

Prohibits buying, selling, and experimenting on fetuses or bodily remains resulting from an abortion.

Killed in the House

Prohibits the use of public funds for the purpose of performing or assisting in an abortion which is not necessary to save the life of the mother, and requires a second opinion from a licensed physician before any abortion is performed when a mother’s life is deemed to be in danger.

Killed in the House

Constitutional amendment forbidding any state funding for organizations that provide abortions.

Killed in the House

Resolution calling for the investigation and defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Tabled in the Senate

Repeals the protest-free buffer zone around reproductive health care clinics.

Tabled in the Senate

Establishes a criminal penalty for anyone who "intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with, or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with, another person because such other person was or is obtaining or providing reproductive health services."

Killed in the House

"All People Create Equal Act," which states that life begins at conception.

Killed in the House

Repeals the ability of registered nurses to dispense noncontrolled prescription drugs in clinics that have a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services (such as Planned Parenthood).

Tabled in the Senate

Repeals the law establishing a protest-free buffer zone around reproductive health clinics.

Killed in the Senate

Allows pharmacies to dispense oral contraceptives to persons 18 years of age or older without a prescription.

Tabled in the Senate

Requires insurers and employers offering insurance to notify policy holders/employees about the details of contraceptive coverage.

House Nonconcurred with the Senate

Includes fetuses eight weeks and older as potential victims under first and second degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and causing or aiding suicide.

Tabled in the House

Establishes the "Viable Unborn Child Protection Act," which prevents abortions beyond 21 weeks and 5 days gestation.

Tabled in the Senate

Requires the Department of Health and Human Services to keep an annual statistical report on induced termination of pregnancy.

Killed in the House

Prohibits sending any state funds to any health care provider that performs abortions, regardless of whether public funds are utilized for that specific service. The Department of Health and Human Services states this bill would prevent the Department from entering into ANY contract with organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

Died in Conference Committee

Includes fetuses as potential victims under murder statutes.  The original Senate version of the bill applied to "viable fetuses," meaning the fetus is old enough to survive outside the womb.  The House revised the bill to apply to all fetuses eight weeks and older.  The House and Senate did not agree on a final version of the bill.

Killed in the House

Requires licenses for outpatient abortion clinics.

Interim Study

Requires the Department of Health and Human Services to keep annual statistics on abortion.

Killed in the House

Provides that life begins at conception.

Tabled in the Senate

Originally written to include fetuses eight weeks and older as potential victims under first and second degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and causing or aiding suicide.  The House amended the bill to instead increase penalties for for manslaughter or negligent homicide causing a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Signed by Governor

Authorizes "buffer zones" for protestors around reproductive health clinics.

Killed in the House

Requires doctors to inform women of the medical details of abortion and alternatives prior to scheduling an abortion.

Vetoed by Governor

Includes fetuses eight weeks and older as potential victims under first and second degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and causing or aiding suicide.

Interim Study

Prohibits abortions beyond 20 weeks gestation.

Killed in the Senate

"Women's Right to Know Act," mandating that women considering an abortion receive "complete and accurate information on abortion and its alternatives."

Veto Overridden

Prohibits partial birth abortions and abortions in the third trimester.

Vetoed by Governor

Allows religious organizations to exclude contraceptive coverage from insurance plans.

Veto Overridden

Requires parental notification prior to a minor's abortion.

Killed in the House

Includes all fetuses as potential victims under first and second degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide.

Killed in the House

Requires parental notification prior to a minor's abortion.

Should NH limit access to abortion?

Comments

Gordon Avery
- Dover

Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:51am

Planned Parenthood is a windmill of death to the most innocent, most vulnerable, most delicate among us.

More than 1.5 million a year -- die by the most brutal methods: salt poisoning, dismemberment, suffocation, strangulation, crushing. It is all done by doctors sworn to heal, sanctioned by judges pledged to uphold our Constitution’s guarantee of the right to life, and condoned by many religious leaders.

"America was founded by men and women who shared a vision of the value of each and every individual. Our forebears strove to build a nation in which the dignity of every person was respected and the rights of all were secure. Our laws have sought to foster and protect human life at all its stages. Legal acceptance of abortion imperils this cherished tradition. By permitting the destruction of unborn children throughout the term of pregnancy, our laws have brought about an inestimable loss of human life and potential. Yet the tragedy of abortion extends beyond the loss of the nearly 17 million children who have been robbed of the gift of life. This tragedy is multifaceted -- inflicting emotional harm on women, denying prospective adoptive couples the joy of sharing their loving homes with children, and eroding respect for the most fundamental of rights, the right to life. No cause is more important than restoring respect for this right because the freedoms we hold so dear cannot endure as long as some lives are regarded as unworthy of protection. Nor can our commitment to defend the dignity of all persons survive if we remain indifferent to the destruction of 1.5 million children each year in the United States. ... If America is to remain what God, in His wisdom, intended for it to be -- a refuge, a safe haven for those seeking human rights -- then we must once again extend the most basic human right to the most vulnerable members of the human family." --Ronald Reagan

Ananta Gopalan
- Hampton

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 9:40pm

New Hampshire is considering through HB 1503 stiffer penalties for the death of fetus as taking life away when the mother is harmed.  That means that the state agrees that a fetus is a human life.  It is about time that the state recognizes existence of a human life growing in a mother's womb.  That is about as natural as the sun rises in the East. 

However, in abortion, that same fetus is considered just a conglomeration of cells and tissues and not life.  How can this be called logic based on reasoning?  A different way of looking at this self-imposed conundrum for the sake of political power is that the state grants the privilege to kill that life when its carrier decides against it.

If the pregnant woman was on her way to get an abortion but was shot or harmed in such a way that the fetus is dead, HB1503 will impose penalty upon the perpetrator for causing the death of the fetus.  The human life represented in the fetus in one case can be lawfully killed while in the other case subjected to prosecution.  In either case, the human life loses out!

Can we simply acknowledge that abortion is a violent termination of a human life?  Any amount of spin or demonizing people opposed to it can not alter that fact.  It is funny how in a highly educated society such as ours, we create euphemisms and twisted logic to soothe our conscience.  In the early 1800's, there were prominent people that tried to justify slavery by saying that it was actually good for the black people. But, facts are stubborn things.  Slavery was a criminal act regardless of the twisted logic.  We find ourselves in the same neighborhood in the case of fetus versus human life.

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Issue Status

Several NH family planning clinics are opting to refuse Title X money rather than comply with new federal rules. Those rules require clinics to physically separate abortion facilities from areas that provide other family planning services. 

The 2020-2021 state budget includes $3.2 million in state money to replace those lost federal funds. The money can't be used to pay for any abortion services. 

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