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NH Republicans’ extreme abortion bills draw ire of medical community

NH Republicans’ extreme abortion bills draw ire of medical community

The NH House Judiciary committee heard testimony on a trio of abortion bills on Wednesday, including a bill banning abortion after 15 days in New Hampshire. (Colin Booth/Granite Post)

By Colin Booth

January 11, 2024

Testimony on a trio of abortion bills in the State House Judiciary Committee — which included a 15-day abortion ban which has attracted national attention — drew intense scrutiny from state medical professionals and even a Republican state representative on Wednesday.

Dr. Maris Toland, an obstetrician gynecologist in Southern New Hampshire, spoke against the 15-day abortion ban, saying the bill was among the most extreme bans proposed in the entire country, and would damage healthcare in the state broadly.

“This is the most restrictive ban. It’s more restrictive than the ban in Texas,” Toland said. “This would push health care providers out of the state. It would also severely limit the ability of health care providers in the state to provide safe accessible care.”

Some of the most haunting testimony of the day came from Republican Rep. Mary Hakken-Phillips, who gave a dire prognostication against the state Republican party if they chose to pursue the 15-day abortion ban, which she characterized as a total ban on abortion in the state.

“Let’s be clear, passage of HB 1248 will accelerate the quickening pace of the voting age electorate in New Hampshire that runs — not walks — away from the Republican Party,” Hakken-Phillips said. “Let this be a warning to you, a 15 day abortion ban will trigger a generational political wave against trusting Republicans to draft public policy for which the GOP will never fully fully recover in the state of New Hampshire.”

RELATED: NH Senate Dems introduce bills to strengthen abortion rights

Rep. John Sellers (R-Bristol) one of the sponsors of the 15-day abortion ban bill said the choice women should be making was about sex.

“God, I mean, I keep hearing it over and over and over my body. My choice. You know, isn’t the time for choice, wouldn’t that be the time when you’re actually having the sex, taking the sex doing the sex. Isn’t that the time, you know, to make the choice?”

Lawmakers and medical professionals also debated CACR 23, a constitutional amendment to codify abortion protections into state law.

Dr. Amy Lee, a new Hampshire OB-GYN resident physician with Darthmouth-Hitchcock, spoke in support of the amendment, saying existing abortion restrictions in New Hampshire made her reluctant to practice in the state and that she was not alone in those feelings.

“We know that states with restrictive abortion bans or limited access to reproductive health care have seen a drop in the number of OB-GYN residency applications,” Lee said. “Those states are losing a valuable pool of future providers during a time where the healthcare workforce is plagued by a shortage nationally.”

Representative Susan Vandecasteele (R-Salem) a sponsor of the constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights in the state, spoke in favor of the effort, touting her her own lived experience to explain why a Republican elected official would want to protect abortion rights in New Hampshire.

“Why is a Republican standing up for these rights for women in the state of New Hampshire?… It’s a very personal, personal decision when you’re in that situation. I was a geriatric pregnancy, and I had a choice in late term if I was terminating or keeping. It’s very personal,” Vandecasteele said. “No woman wants to stand there and defend themselves in front of you, their colleagues, every resident of the state. So I believe we have more to change in the state of New Hampshire to make it great than talk about personal, very personal decisions.”

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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