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N.H. Rejects Abortion Wait Bill

Concord — A proposed 24-hour waiting period before any woman could get an abortion failed badly before the House of Representatives yesterday.

The 229-121 vote to kill the measure, HB 483, brings full circle the House that in the previous two years had championed nearly a dozen anti-abortion bills. In fact, last year the House had passed this proposal twice, once even attaching it to a popular business tax cut that the State Senate and then-Gov. John Lynch had badly wanted.

State Rep. Sylvia Gale, D-Nashua, said as written this would have put more restrictions on abortion than any other medical procedure.

“This is indeed an anti-abortion bill that would create intentionally ideological obstacles to a woman’s procedure and could in fact be dangerous to a woman’s health,” Gale said.

Rep. Jeannine Notter, R-Merrimack, said this bill would have New Hampshire join the mainstream since 28 states now require women to wait a specific amount of time and 35 states compel all women to have some counseling.

“We can benefit them by helping them learn the facts before making a decision that leaves far too many women victimized,” Notter said.

Supporters argued that informed consent is required for any doctor’s work on a patient.

“This bill is a common sense solution that protects a person’s right to know just like any other medical procedure,” State Rep. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, said.

But Rep. Peter Sullivan, D-Manchester, said the information supplied to patients was biased against abortion providers.

“Very simply, this bill interjects theology into a place where medical science should prevail,” Sullivan concluded.

Over the past two years, the GOP-dominated House passed numerous anti-abortion bills over to the State Senate where Republicans had a 19-5 advantage.

The Senate rejected most of them but passed into law over former Gov. Lynch’s vetoes measures to require a child notify a parent before getting an abortion and also to ban late term or so-called partial birth abortions that already were illegal under federal law.