NH GOP’s stance on personhood echoes Alabama IVF decision

Former President Donald Trump speaks as outgoing Chairman of the New Hampshire GOP Stephen Stepanek looks on during the New Hampshire Republican State Committee 2023 annual meeting, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Salem, N.H. (AP Photo/Reba Saldanha)

By Colin Booth

February 29, 2024

Following an Alabama State Supreme Court ruling concerning in vitro fertilization (IVF) upending fertility care in the state, the New Hampshire Republican Party’s longstanding position on the personhood of the pre-born has garnered renewed attention. 

Embedded within the NH GOP platform is a commitment by the party to “support the pre-born child’s fundamental right to life and personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment,” a statement that mirrors language at the heart of the recent court ruling in Alabama that considered frozen embryos in test tubes to be children.

The decision which, declares frozen embryos used in IVF as children and those who destroy them to be held legally liable for wrongful death, has put fertility treatment system in Alabama into upheaval, putting individuals receiving care and health care providers in a state of chaos as they attempt to decipher how to legally proceed with treatment options which are legally allowed in every other state.

The NH GOP’s platform suggests a foundational sympathy towards legal perspectives that recognize embryos as bearing rights. This perspective raises questions about the future accessibility of IVF treatments and the legal challenges that might emerge, affecting families seeking to use similar reproductive technologies in New Hampshire. Another section of the platform includes party support for the “Life at Conception Act” which has come under renewed scrutiny for not including exceptions for fertility care.

Both the Alabama decision and NH GOP platform cite the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution equal protection clause due to its provisions on due process and equal protection under the law.

The Alabama decision has initiated a broader conversation on the status of embryos and the legal frameworks governing IVF treatments, with potential reverberations in states such as New Hampshire. The Republican Party is currently running two candidates for Governor in the state with positions on reproductive rights to the right of the current office holder, Chris Sununu, who himself signed the first modern abortion ban into state law.

In New Hampshire, where the Republican party’s platform has long embraced an anti-abortion platform, the implications of such legal interpretations are profound, especially on the upcoming gubernatorial race.

A spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Ayotte said the candidate supported access to IVF in the state, despite having not issued public statements of support following the Alabama decision.

“Kelly disagrees with the Alabama ruling and fully supports protecting access to IVF. She has personally seen friends start and grow healthy families using IVF and knows that it is important to protect IVF for New Hampshire families. If there is something in the party platform that conflicts with Kelly’s position on an issue, she disagrees with it,” said Ayotte spokesman John Corbett.

The language from the Ayotte campaign closely matches guidance from a leaked memo from the Republican National Senatorial Committee, which has been distributed widely among Republican candidates in battleground districts.

The memo offers polling specifics that illustrate the overwhelming popularity of access to IVF and other fertility treatments with women across political divides and matter-of-factly instructs candidates to “align with the public’s overwhelming support for IVF and fertility treatments” and to “Publicly oppose any efforts to restrict access to IVF and other fertility treatments.”

Ayotte laid the groundwork for Donald Trump to cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and supported a national abortion ban while in office, while Morse has called himself the “architect” of New Hampshire’s current abortion ban and has been outspoken on his anti-abortion activism.

Chuck Morse’s campaign did not respond for comment.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said the NH GOP’s platform was tied directly to decades-old conservative efforts to control reproductive health for women at every level of American life, and Republicans suggesting otherwise were doing so for the sake of political expediency.

“Republicans are scrambling because they know banning IVF treatments reveals how extreme their positions truly are. The only reason Republicans in New Hampshire are trying to distance themselves from the Alabama position now is because we’re in an election year, otherwise IVF, birth control, contraceptives  they want to ban it all.” Buckley said.

RELATED: ‘Gut punch after gut punch’: IVF patients speak out after Alabama ruling

Kayla Montgomery, Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund said Granite Staters should not be convinced Republicans would truly support IVF or any other reproductive health measures.

“IVF is critical reproductive health care that has helped thousands of Granite State families. Make no mistake: Donald Trump, Kelly Ayotte, and Chuck Morse’s relentless push to overturn Roe v. Wade directly led to the Alabama decision and to the uncertainty thousands of families in New Hampshire are facing right now. Whether and how to start or grow your family should be up to you and not up to Trump, Ayotte, Morse, or any politician.”

The sentiment was echoed by Rebecca Hart Holder, President of Reproductive Equity Now, whose organization has begun expanding into New Hampshire in September of last year. She said the NH GOP’s platform spoke for itself.

“The Alabama IVF ruling is proof positive that banning abortion has never been the end-game for the anti-abortion movement. This ruling paves the way for the use of ‘fetal personhood’ statues, which we know they will attempt to use to broadly restrict access to abortion, contraception, and assisted reproduction nationwide,” said Hart Holder, “Despite Republican politicians’ best efforts to change their rhetoric and run from the backlash of this wildly unpopular ruling, the New Hampshire GOP cannot hide from its commitment to ban reproductive health care in the state, especially when fetal personhood is an explicit tenet of its platform.”

New Hampshire Democrats have taken action to create proactive protections for IVF and other fertility treatments, with Representative Annie Kuster this week helping introduce the Access to Family Building Act, a bicameral piece of legislation designed to codify an individual’s right to assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), including IVF. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan are cosponsors of this legislation in the Senate, and Rep. Chris Pappas is a cosponsor in the House.

However those efforts have been blocked by Senate Republicans.

“The recent decision in Alabama makes clear what we have always known: efforts to roll back reproductive freedoms are about controlling women’s bodies,” said Senator Shaheen in response to Republicans blocking IVF protections. “This ruling further strips women of their power to decide when and how to start a family, which is why Senate Democrats attempted to pass legislation that would guarantee access to IVF for women across the country. Unsurprisingly, Republicans voted down the effort and doubled down on their own efforts to diminish reproductive freedom by putting partisan politics above the rights of Americans just trying to start or grow a family.”

Senator Hassan agreed, saying attacks on fertility treatments by Republicans were another front on the attacks on women’s reproductive freedoms.

“Many of my constituents, my friends, and my relatives have used IVF to start a family and to enjoy the blessing of children – and the effort to limit access to IVF is yet another result of the Supreme Court’s dangerous decision to overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Senator Hassan. “It is outrageous that a Senate Republican blocked today’s effort to advance important legislation to protect access to IVF and similar treatments nationwide – and I will continue fighting back against Republican leaders’ efforts to block women from making their own health care decisions. The last group of people who should be making these personal health care decisions are judges or lawmakers.”

Congresswoman Kuster and Congressman Pappas shared their frustration by Republicans efforts to block the legislation.

“Families in New Hampshire and all across the country rely on IVF to help them have children — now, those services are under attack,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I was proud to help introduce legislation to keep the government out of our personal, private reproductive decisions and codify the right to assisted reproductive technologies, including IVF. I’m extremely disappointed that Republicans blocked this effort, further stripping Americans of their reproductive freedoms. I will continue fighting to ensure the decision of when and how to have a family is made by parents and their loved ones, not politicians.”

“It should never be up to politicians or judges to decide how or when women and their families plan to have kids,” said Congressman Pappas. “But today’s vote in the Senate further illustrates that extreme Republicans are hell bent on ripping access to reproductive care away from women, even access to IVF and assisted reproductive technology. Everyone who wants to build a family should be able to do so, and passing the Access to Family Building Act would ensure that women can always access IVF, regardless of what state they live in.” 

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.

Politics

VIDEO: What’s Your IVF Story?

VIDEO: What’s Your IVF Story?

In Vitro Fertilization has become a political talking point—but there’s more to the story. We want to give everyday Granite Staters who have IVF on...

Local News

Related Stories
Share This