New Hampshire’s motto might be “live free or die,” but thanks to some sneaky abortion restrictions the Republican-majority legislature included in the state’s most recent budget, that … kind of no longer applies to abortion providers or patients.
Republican lawmakers added the “Fetal Life Protection Act”—which includes a ban on abortion after 24 weeks with no exception for rape, incest, or fetal viability—onto New Hampshire’s $13.5 billion annual budget before passing it in June.
Once the 24-week ban goes into effect on January 1, the number of states without gestational limits on abortion will be down to a mere six.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the budget includes civil and criminal penalties for providers who do perform an abortion after 24 weeks. Abortion providers could be charged with a felony that carries up to seven years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
Oh, and did we mention the budget also allows the “father of the fetus” (if married to the pregnant person) to sue for monetary damages if an abortion is provided after 24 weeks?
The law also includes a requirement that all abortion patients undergo an ultrasound.
In an op-ed for the New Hampshire Journal that reads like a chaotic love letter to abortion restrictions, Republican state Rep. Beth Folsom, the prime sponsor of the act, said she was “humbled and proud to watch as our state finally passed long overdue, basic protections for the preborn.”
While restrictions and gestational limits like this are far from uncommon, what makes New Hampshire’s “Fetal Life Protection Act” unique is how it managed to fly under the radar.
New Hampshire has long been regarded as a safe haven for abortion. Until this year, the state’s only abortion restrictions were a forced parental notification law and a prohibition on public funding of abortion care. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu even considers himself “pro-choice.” But when asked about the 24-week abortion ban, the governor had this to say:
Like most citizens of the state of New Hampshire, I do not think that we should be doing late-term or, you know, these at-the-very-last-minute type abortions … I think most people agree that, that’s not appropriate.
Just a reminder: Gestational limits on abortion have absolutely nothing to do with fetal safety, and they definitely don’t have anything to do with what’s “appropriate.”
Statistics show that the vast majority of abortions in the United States happen in the first trimester. Abortion after 24 weeks is rare, and typically involves complications like a risk to the health of the pregnant person or fetus.
New Hampshire’s 24-week ban doesn’t protect fetuses—it merely chips away at the rights of pregnant people and abortion providers.
Politicians who claim to be pro-choice like Sununu should know this, but that didn’t stop him from signing the anti-abortion budget in June.
New Hampshire’s new abortion ban is part of a sweeping tide of new abortion restrictions in both conservative and liberal states. States enacted 90 abortion restrictions in the first six months of 2021, already making it the worst year for abortion rights on record.
This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.