Abortion Supporters In New Hampshire Call For State Constitutional Amendment Allowing Abortions After 24 Weeks Into Pregnancy If Doctor Gives O.K.

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2023/12/18/abortion-supporters-in-new-hampshire-call-for-state-constitutional-amendment-allowing-abortions-after-24-weeks-into-pregnancy-if-doctor-gives-o-k/

Abortion is legal in New Hampshire through 24 weeks of pregnancy, but some abortion supporters are calling for an amendment to the state constitution that would make it legal up until birth if a doctor deems it necessary.

The proposed amendment (New Hampshire Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution 23) declares “a fundamental right to abortion” that the state government “cannot prohibit, restrict, delay, or penalize … prior to 24 weeks unless it is justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.”

The proposed amendment adds:  “After 24 weeks, the state may not prohibit an abortion that, in the professional judgment of an attending physician, is necessary.  The physician shall apply the applicable standard of care in making a professional judgment.”

The measure is due to be referred to the House Judiciary Committee in January 2024.

The New Hampshire Constitution does not currently mention abortion.

It’s “a heavy lift” to get such a measure on the state ballot, noted InDepthNH.org, because the state constitution requires 60 percent of the New Hampshire House of Representatives (which has a slight Republican majority of 198-195 with three independents and four vacancies) and 60 percent of the New Hampshire Senate (which has a 14-10 Republican majority).

Democrats generally support abortion. Most Republicans either oppose abortion or support it less enthusiastically than Democrats.

In the House, the measure would need 240 of the 400 members in order to get approval. That means if all 195 Democrats vote for it, it would need an additional 45 Republicans.

In the Senate, the measure would need 15 of the 24 members in order to get approval. That means if all 10 Democrats vote for it, it would need an additional five Republicans.

If the measure does get on the state ballot, it would take a two-thirds majority of voters to approve it and thus add the amendment to the state constitution.

The measure has 13 sponsors in the state legislature currently:  11 Democrats (eight state representatives and three state senators) and 2 Republicans (both state representatives).

The proposed amendment could theoretically go on the general election ballot in November 2024.

On the pro-life side:  Two Republican state representatives and one Republican state senator are the current sponsors of a bill that would ban abortion in New Hampshire after 15 days into pregnancy. It would provide a fine of between $10,000 and $100,000 for “Any health care provider” who provides an abortion after 15 days.

The measure is New Hampshire House Bill 1248-FN.

New Hampshire is widely considered a pro-abortion state. A Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll in August 2022 found that 71 percent think abortion should be legal with no restrictions (29 percent) or with some restrictions (42 percent).  Only 26 percent think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances (5 percent) or only under very narrow circumstances (21 percent).

Before 2022, it was unclear if New Hampshire had a gestational limit on abortions.

Starting in January 2022, though, New Hampshire has banned abortions after 24 weeks with certain exceptions. The current exceptions in state law are “fetal abnormalities incompatible with life”; if an abortion is deemed “necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman”; and “when continuation of the pregnancy will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function … of the pregnant woman.”

Nationwide, about 93 percent of all abortions occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Less than 1 percent of abortions occur at or after 21 weeks, according to the data.


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