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Op-ed: Senate Democrats Will Not Stand Idly by on the Fight for Women’s Freedom

Op-ed: Senate Democrats Will Not Stand Idly by on the Fight for Women’s Freedom

By Becky Whitley, Debra Altschiller

March 18, 2024

Since the fall of Roe v. Wade, Granite Staters have watched in horror as millions of women around the country – 1 in 3 American women of reproductive age – have lost access to abortion care in their home state. This fear has hit close to home as we watch New Hampshire Republicans act to further restrict access to abortion care, some proposing to outlaw it completely.  

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, they eliminated the federal constitutional right to access abortion, a right held by women for almost 50 years. Rights that transformed the lives of generations of women and led to historic gains in women’s equality. After the Dobbs case was decided, the legal landscape across the country was sent into chaos as the right to access abortion care became determined by your zip code. Fear and uncertainty about our rights and freedoms has spread across the country and here in New Hampshire.

In the Dobbs case, The Court punted the issue of reproductive rights directly to state elected officials – yet State House Republicans have blocked every single effort to protect, codify, or enshrine the right to access to abortion in New Hampshire. Even worse, they have acted to restrict reproductive healthcare by imposing a draconian abortion ban after 24 weeks, originally with no exception for a fatal fetal diagnosis and requiring invasive and medically unnecessary vaginal ultrasounds for all abortion care, and which still threatens doctors with criminal penalties for providing certain medically necessary abortion care.

New Hampshire Senate Democrats have never given up though, and we continue to fight to ensure that reproductive freedoms are protected in our freedom-loving state. That’s because we stand with Granite State women; and, more importantly, we TRUST Granite State women. We also know that politicians do not belong in the exam room or our bedrooms.

At the beginning of the 2024 legislative session, we introduced a comprehensive package of legislation to protect reproductive freedom, all while State House Republicans introduced further restrictions, including a 15-day abortion ban.

Just like many red and blue states have done around the country, New Hampshire Senate Democrats worked this year to send the issue of reproductive rights to our voters. We proposed a constitutional amendment, CACR 24, that would have ensured that access to abortion care is once again a constitutionally protected right – but this time, in the New Hampshire Constitution! Despite the overwhelming majority of Granite Staters who support protections for abortion care, Senate Republicans blocked this effort from going to the voters. In voting down CACR 24, Senate Republicans obstructed giving Granite Staters the opportunity to decide if reproductive freedom should be theirs alone without government interference. 

We also introduced SB 575, a shield law to protect women obtaining abortion care in New Hampshire and their providers from aggressive prosecution by other states. States like Alabama, Idaho and Texas, that have enacted forced pregnancies and who are reaching into other states to enforce their anti-abortion agendas. And once again, our efforts to protect reproductive freedom and women’s rights were blocked by the Senate Republicans.

Lastly, we introduced SB 567 to protect access to abortion medications, which have become the latest political target for anti-abortion politicians. Senate Democrats successfully led the effort to pass this bill in the Senate, to ensure we have appropriate and accurate information on the availability of abortion medications here in New Hampshire, regardless of what happens at the U.S. Supreme Court. Women must have safe and accessible reproductive healthcare options, and we look forward to getting this bill to the Governor’s desk.

We are only beginning to see the horrifying, painful, and potentially lethal consequences of the failure to protect access to abortion in our state and across the country. That is why, even in the face of opposition, we will not stop – because we know that we do not have the luxury of inaction or delays, and we know that without access to abortion care and without the right to determine the course of our own futures, Granite State women will never be truly equal.

It’s time to act to protect the fundamental rights of women in this state, to reassure half of our population that we will not tolerate further restriction of our rights. This is what Granite Staters want and New Hampshire Senate Democrats agree. 

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CATEGORIES: HEALTHCARE | POLITICS
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