General Articles

New Hampshire Senate Votes to Protect Reproductive Rights

Amidst an onslaught of anti-choice legislation in states across the country, the New Hampshire Senate has protected its citizens' reproductive rights by twice rejecting legislation that would impose a 24-hour waiting period on abortion. In addition to the waiting period, under the requirements of the Women's Right to Know Act (H.B. 1659), a physician would be required to describe "the immediate and long-term medical risks associated with the proposed abortion method including, but not limited to, the risks of infection, hemorrhage, cervical or uterine perforation, danger to subsequent pregnancies," alternatives to abortion, and the "probable gestational age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed" during the consultation.[1] In the case of a "medical emergency requiring an immediate termination of pregnancy," the law would have required "the physician who performed the abortion [to] clearly certify in writing the nature of the medical emergency."[2]

This mandatory delay law would have increased the cost of the procedure by requiring two office visits. In addition, the cost of the procedure would have likely been impacted by increased travel costs if the woman had to travel a far distance to her abortion provider—87% of counties do not have an abortion provider—as well as the cost incurred from increased time away from work and family.[3] Studies have shown that when a woman is compelled to see an abortion provider twice due to a 24-hour waiting period, the overall abortion rate declines, but there is an increase in women traveling out-of-state to obtain an abortion or waiting longer to have her abortion, which increases the likelihood of complications. These laws also disproportionately affect lower-income women, as women "who have trouble raising the funds for their abortion frequently take up to three weeks longer than better-off women to obtain an abortion and have the greatest difficulties taking time off from work, getting child care and affording the travel costs to obtain the procedure."[4]

Abortion-rights advocates also oppose mandatory counseling laws, which require doctors to provide particular messages to their patients that are not driven by science or medicine. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights:

Biased counseling laws force physicians to communicate, and women to receive, state messages aimed at influencing the women's decisions about whether to continue or terminate their pregnancies. This insertion of the state into the communications between physician and patient intrudes on a woman's autonomy and dignity; interferes with the physician's professional practice; and corrupts the informed consent process.[5]

The New Hampshire House of Representatives originally passed the measure by a vote of 189–151 on March 22, 2012.[6] The following month, the State Senate rejected the bill by a vote of 12–11.[7] The Tea Party-dominated State House responded by then attaching the bill to an unrelated piece of legislation that would have raised the research and development tax credit that businesses could receive from $1 million to $2 million, a move that prompted outcry from business owners. Some House legislators argued against asking the Senate to reconsider a bill it had so recently rejected, with one Representative expressing disappointment in his chamber for "taking a good piece of financial legislation and hijacking it and turning it into a fight between the House and Senate."[8] As expected, the state Senate killed the amended tax credit bill without debate on May 23, 2012.[9]

Click here to view all May 2012 Policy Updates

1 New Hampshire H.B. 1659, "Women's Right to Know Act," § 132-B:3(I)(b)–(c) (2012), accessed1 June 2012,
2 Ibid, § 132-B:3(III)
3 Guttmacher Institute, "Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States," Fact Sheet published August 2011, accessed 7 June 2012,
4 Guttmacher Institute, "Most Laws Mandating Counseling And Waiting Periods Before Abortion Have Little Impact," News Release published 12 May 2009, accessed 7 June 2012,
5 "Mandatory Delays and Biased Counseling for Women Seeking Abortions," Center for Reproductive Rights, 30 September 2010, accessed 7 June 2012,….
6 Norma Love, "N.H. House passes 24-hour wait for abortion," Boston Globe, 15 March 2012, accessed 1 June 2012,….
7 Norma Love, "NH House passes abortion limit Senate rejected," Boston Globe, 15 May 2012, accessed 1 June 2012,….
8 Ibid.
9 "NH Senate kills abortion-waiting period bill," Boston Globe, 23 May 2012, accessed 1 June 2012,….