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House to vote on abortion restrictions

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Next Wednesday, March 9, the House will vote on several bills to restrict abortion in New Hampshire.

HB 1328 would prohibit abortion after twenty weeks of pregnancy.  

Speaking in favor of the bill, Rep. Joseph Hagan wrote, "Over the last decade, according to the Gallup Poll, greater than 80% of the American people agree that abortion should be banned after viability. This bill is constitutional, compassionate and supported by the majority of the American people."  

Rep. Timothy Horrigan wrote that the bill "threatens women’s health by banning abortion even when serious medical conditions jeopardize a woman’s health. While the bill does have very narrow exceptions, they are inadequate to protect women’s health and safety."

HB 1623 would prohibit abortion based on genetic abnormalities.

"Children who carry markers for Down syndrome should be allowed to grow and become the person they can, not killed by abortion as roughly 90% of those so diagnosed are today," wrote Rep. Kurt Wuelper.

However, the majority of the Juidicary Committee voted against HB 1623.  Speaking on their behalf, Rep. Paul Berch wrote, "Understanding that women make different decisions based upon their own values, abilities and wisdom, the bipartisan majority of the committee felt it was the right of New Hampshire women to make these difficult decisions themselves, in consultation with medical professionals, rather than by politicians."

HB 1625 would ban abortion after viability.

Bill supporters argue that viable babies - those capable of living outside the womb - should be given every chance to survive.

Critics of the bill point out that post-viability abortions are not currently performed in New Hampshire, and argue that the exceptions in the bill for the mother's health and safety are not adequate.

HB 1636 would ban abortion "once an unborn child can feel pain."

"Knowing that anesthesia is common in surgery performed on babies in the womb, we believe that those babies who might experience pain even more than born people should be protected from abortion," Rep. Kurt Wuelper wrote in a statement.

On the other hand, federal courts have found similar laws unconstitutional.  New Hampshire would most likely have to defend this law in court, a costly endeavor for the state with only a small chance of success.

HB 1684 would prohibit any public funds to assist abortion.

Speaking in support of the bill, Rep. Mark McLean wrote, "Abortions are currently performed in over a dozen facilities throughout the state, all of which are private hospitals or clinics. As a result of this fact, a large portion of the committee felt that this bill would not limit a woman’s access to abortion, but that it would insulate taxpayers who object to having to fund a procedure they do not condone."

Rep. Charlene Takesian, an opponent of the bill, wrote, "This bill would result in the defunding of family planning providers such as community health centers who provide critical and important care that actually reduces unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion."

The House will also vote on HB 1399, which would require licensing of abortion clinics, HB 1570, which would repeal the protest-free buffer zone around reproductive health clinics, HB 1662, which would add regulations for physicians using an abortion-inducing drug, and HB 1663, which would ban the sale of and experimentation on fetal tissue.

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