BY: Citizens Count
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion across the nation. However, President Donald Trump made statements during his campaign promising to appoint judges who would work to overturn the ruling.
This has led some states to pass “trigger laws” on abortion: laws making the procedure legal or illegal that only go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
History of abortion law
Before Roe v. Wade, the power to set policy on abortion lay completely with individual states. In 1970, unrestricted abortion—e.g. abortion at the discretion of a mother—was legal in only four states (New York, Alaska, Washington, and Hawaii). In New Hampshire and elsewhere, it was illegal. Attempts to institute more liberal laws on abortion in New Hampshire before 1973 failed.
There is currently no law on the books banning abortion outright in New Hampshire. The only restrictions are a ban on ‘partial birth’ abortions and a parental notification requirement for minors. The state also restricts any public funds for abortion to cases of rape, incest, or endangerment of the life of the mother.
A controversial law in New York
The state of New York has gained particular attention for its new law protecting abortion.
That law allows abortion in three circumstances:
- The abortion occurs in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy,
- The abortion is "necessary to protect the patient's life or health", or,
- The fetus would be unable to survive outside the womb.
The law also repeals criminal penalties for abortion.
Supporters argue this law is just a repeat of the criteria from Roe v. Wade. That ruling generally states that abortion is legal within the first two trimesters of pregnancy, before the fetus is able to survive outside the womb.
However, opponents argue that protecting the patient’s “health” is very broad and subjective, and could allow late term abortions when there is nothing wrong with the fetus and the mother’s life is not in danger.
Should NH pass a law banning or protecting abortion?
Supporters of a state ban on abortion argue that abortion is the murder of an unborn child. They believe that the Supreme Court was wrong when it declared that women have a constitutional right to undergo the procedure if they choose.
Supporters of the New York law, and other state laws guaranteeing a right to abortion, argue that women have a basic human right to end their pregnancies if they choose, and should not be forced to carry a child to term against their will. They also express concerns that a ban on abortion in New Hampshire would drive women to seek the procedure from illegal practitioners, putting their health at risk.
Should New Hampshire pass a “trigger law” on abortion? Share your opinion in the comments below.