A bill adding an exception to New Hampshire’s new abortion ban for cases in which the fetus has been diagnosed with “abnormalities incompatible with life” is heading to the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu, who has said he will sign it.
Since Jan. 1, New Hampshire has outlawed abortion after 24 weeks gestation, with exceptions only for pregnancies that threaten the mother’s life or health. Doctors who provide late-term abortions can face felony charges, and ultrasounds are required before any abortion.
With nine Republicans joining all 10 Democrats, the Senate voted 19-5 in favor of a bill to limit the use of ultrasounds and add the “abnormalities incompatible with life” exception. The bill passed the House last month.
Sen. Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton, said she was grateful to women who shared heartbreaking stories, including a Brookline woman who learned 21 weeks into her pregnancy that one of her twins would not survive on her own after birth.
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
“We know that there are many more women who have these deeply personal stories who may not be comfortable attending a public hearing who can attest that, yes, these circumstances are rare, but they happen to real families,” she said.
The Senate rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, who said she understood the desire to add an exception but felt the bill raised too many questions.
“Incompatible with life ... is it just minutes, is it days, is it weeks? We don’t know that,” she said.
With the U.S. Supreme Court considering a case that could severely erode abortion rights, state legislatures across the country are taking up measures to either restrict the procedure further, or ensure access to it. New Hampshire lawmakers are considering at least eight bills on both sides of the issue.
Among those that have passed the House are bills that would allow health care workers to refuse to participate in the delivery of contraception or abortion care, and another that would eliminate the safety zone that keeps protesters at least 25 feet (7.5 meters) away from abortion clinics.