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Abortion ban after viability?

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New Hampshire law does not currently have an abortion ban after a fetus reaches a certain gestational age, but that could change if HB 578 becomes law. The bill would prohibit abortion after “viability”, defined as the point at which a fetus is likely to survive outside the womb without extreme medical intervention—generally thought to be around 21 to 26 weeks.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Keith Murphy, does contain exceptions for cases where an abortion is necessary to "preserve the life or health” of the mother or where a fetus has “severe anomalies incompatible with life”. It recently received an “ought to pass” recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee in a 10-7 vote.

Nationally, most abortions take place during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. According to the CDC, only around 1.3% of abortions take place after 20 weeks, and these are far more likely to involve cases that would trigger the exceptions written into HB 578: risks to the health of the mother or cases where the fetus would likely die outside the womb regardless.

Supporters of the bill argue that it fits with constitutional precedent, as established by a gamut of Supreme Court rulings on abortion restrictions. They hold that the state has a responsibility to protect the life of an unborn child once that child could hypothetically survive outside the womb, and that the child’s right to survive trumps the mother’s right to choose whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.  

Opponents of the bill argue that late-term abortion bans represent dangerous government interference in the doctor-patient relationship, and also express concerns that the law does not make provisions for women who are unable to safely obtain an earlier abortion because they are in an abusive relationship, or in cases of rape or incest.

Learn more about abortion restrictions in New Hampshire.

Do you think NH should ban abortion after viability? Join the discussion on Facebook or comment below. Comments will be included in a summary of this discussion and presented to legislators considering this bill. Only comments from NH residents will be counted, so please indicate if you are from NH in your response.


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The government does not have the right to interfere with a woman's right to chose. This should be between her doctor and the pregnant woman. We can't possibly know all the nuances that go into a decision to have an abortion at any stage. Government should stop trying to tell women what to do with their own bodies. Just because a woman can carry a child, doesn't mean she has to just because she becomes pregnant. As a NH resident, I do not want the government dictating whether a woman has to give birth to a child just because she is pregnant, it is no one's business but the mother and the doctor.


SCOTUS has always recognized the state's compelling interest in protecting the life of the pre-born. Even granting the woman's right to abortion, that right can not be absolute and must be balanced against the right of the baby to live. I want the government to protect all people from being killed, no matter their size, age, location, etc.


What about the male who was an active participant in creating the new life. It should be his decision too. And if you don't want to risk an unwanted pregnancy, then you shouldn't be having sex.


Remember the line in the Declaration of Independence, "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [persons] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights...". This sentence has proved enormously difficult for America. The South practiced, and the North (and the Founders) allowed, American slavery. We fought the Civil War centered on the definition of what a "person" is in the Declaration of Independence. The Civil War ended with America deciding that a few parts per thousand difference in DNA (i.e. different races) does not disqualify one from being a person.

Now we have two more questions brought up by the abortion debate. The first question is, does location affect personhood? If you have a mass of new human DNA, but it is inside another person, is it still a person? In other words, does location of the DNA determine whether the thing is a person or not?

The second question is is there a set of time limitations on being a "person" according to this line of the Declaration of Independence. Is there a minimum amount of time a new set of DNA must exist before it is considered a "person"?

Abortion raises these two questions about the definition of a "person" under that line in the Declaration of Independence. America struggled for 87 years before we concluded that all races qualified as persons. Now we have new questions that might also take nearly a century or more to answer.

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