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NH Legislature Rejects Abortion Ban and Preserves Buffer Zone Law

PPNHAF volunteers gather for a rally before the vote on HB 578 and HB 589

Bipartisan tradition of respecting women’s health and privacy upheld in the Granite State

(Concord, NH) – Earlier today the NH House acted on the repeal of the NH Buffer Zone and a ban on abortion,  HB 589 and HB 578 respectively. These bills were the first legislative proposals to come before House members this biennium which would impact the landscape for accessing reproductive health in the Granite State.  Planned Parenthood opposed both measures. Neither bill will move forward to the NH Senate.

Quote from Kayla Montgomery, Director of Advocacy and Organizing, Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund:

Today, the New Hampshire House rejected two measures that would have restricted or compromised the ability of women to access personal and private reproductive health care. The majority of NH House Representatives listened to their constituents, including the thousands of Planned Parenthood supporters who lobbied against these measures. These bipartisan votes continue the Granite State’s strong tradition of respecting women and doctors, not politicians, to make personal, private decisions about pregnancy and childbearing.”

Yesterday nearly a hundred supporters from around the state came to Concord to talk to their state reps about these bills, and what Planned Parenthood means to them.

HB 578-FN: relative to banning abortion after viability. This bill, both in its original form and as amended by the Judiciary Committee, restricted the right of New Hampshire women to make private medical decisions later in pregnancy. It is part of a larger strategy by the bill’s proponents to chip away at abortion rights through multiple restrictions. The Committee amendment, titled the “Viable Fetus Protection Act” replaced the original bill and would have introduced new limitations to abortion access in state law without protecting longstanding rights.  The amendment failed on a vote of 189 – 170, and the bill was then tabled. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade held that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of liberty protects a woman’s decision to have an abortion, limits government involvement with private medical decisions prior to fetal viability, and enables states to restrict post-viability abortions with exceptions to protect the health and life of the pregnant woman.  Support for Roe v. Wade and for access to safe, legal abortion is stronger in New Hampshire than any state in the nation.

State Representatives from across the state watch ‘Across the Line’ – a virtual reality film which puts viewers in the shoes of a patient entering a health center for a safe and legal abortion and demonstrates why buffer zones are important.

Supporters also joined State Representatives for a lunch gathering to discuss these bills and view a showing of “Across the Line” which is seven minute virtual reality experience which puts viewers in the shoes of a patient entering a health center for a safe and legal abortion

“New Hampshire’s Buffer Zone law, enacted in 2014, was carefully tailored to strike a balance between public safety, free speech, and privacy rights. Planned Parenthood is committed to protecting the privacy and safety of our patients, while respecting first amendment rights. No woman should face intimidation, physical obstruction or fear of harm while seeking to access confidential medical care,” added Montgomery. 

HB 589-FN: repealing the law governing access to reproductive health care facilities. This bill would have repealed the Buffer Zone law which was passed in 2014. Planned Parenthood argued that health centers need the flexibility to implement Buffer Zones when the privacy and safety of patients is at risk. Undoing this law would be a step backwards and removes an important tool from the toolkit. The House Judiciary committee recommended a bipartisan report of ITL on this bill and the House voted to uphold the committee report by a margin of 191-165.

Planned Parenthood Gears Up For New Legislative Fights In NH House

Planned Parenthood Gears Up to Protect Reproductive Health Care Access in First Legislative Fights of the 2017 Session

Bills to Ban some Abortions and Repeal the Buffer Zone Headed to the House Floor

Concord – Next House session, members will act on HB 578 and HB 589. These are the first pieces of legislation coming before House members this biennium which, if passed, would impact the landscape for accessing reproductive health in the Granite State.  Planned Parenthood opposes both measures. Earlier this week the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines (10-7) to support HB 578 and introduce new abortion restrictions into state law. In contrast, bipartisan support was achieved for a recommendation of Inexpedient to Legislation (10-7) on HB 589, the repeal of the buffer zone law. 

HB 578, both in its original form and as amended by the Judiciary Committee, restricts the right of New Hampshire women to make private medical decisions later in pregnancy and is part of a larger strategy by the bill’s proponents to chip away at abortion rights through multiple restrictions. It was opposed by leading medical organizations including the NH Medical Society and the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The Committee amendment, titled the “Viable Fetus Protection Act” would introduce new limitations to abortion access in state law without protecting longstanding rights. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade held that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of liberty protects a woman’s decision to have an abortion, limits government involvement with private medical decisions prior to fetal viability, and enables states to restrict post-viability abortions with exceptions to protect the health and life of the pregnant woman.  Support for Roe v. Wade and for access to safe, legal abortion is stronger in New Hampshire than any state in the nation. Planned Parenthood does support adopting language that would align New Hampshire law with the principles of Roe. Such an amendment was discussed at the Committee level and may be offered on the House floor.

“HB 578 is a clear attempt to begin unravelling the legal protections defined in Roe v. Wade and would ban some abortions later in pregnancy,” said Kayla Montgomery, Director of Advocacy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “Planned Parenthood urges the House to defeat this restriction and uphold New Hampshire’s bipartisan tradition of protecting privacy rights and abortion access. ” 

HB 589 is a measure to repeal the Buffer Zone, which was signed into law with bipartisan support in 2014. This legislation allows for the establishment of zone of privacy and safety up to 25 feet, limiting the physical presence of protestors from the entrance to a reproductive health facility while at the same time balancing the first amendment rights of those individuals wishing to express their opinions on the public sidewalk adjacent to that facility.

“New Hampshire’s Buffer Zone law, enacted in 2014, was carefully tailored to strike a balance between public safety, free speech, and privacy rights. Planned Parenthood is committed to protecting the privacy and safety of our patients, while respecting first amendment rights. No woman should face intimidation, physical obstruction or fear of harm while seeking to access confidential medical care,” said Montgomery. 

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