As abortion rights efforts fail in NH Statehouse, protests follow at Dartmouth

  • Dartmouth freshman Serena Suson, right, speaks during a gathering in support of abortion rights on the Dartmouth Green in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, May 6, 2022. Suson said she didn’t learn about Roe v. Wade until her senior year of high school and was outraged that a case she views as establishing an integral right for half the population was given so little attention in her education. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

  • Dartmouth junior Amber Bhutta adds subsidized contraception and expanded coverage on the student healthcare plan to a list of demands during a gathering in support of abortion rights on the Dartmouth Green in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, May 6, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth students yell chants including “not the church, not the state, we must control our fate” and “our bodies, our choice” during a gathering in support of abortion rights on the Dartmouth Green in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, May 6, 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

Associated Press
Published: 5/7/2022 1:01:38 AM
Modified: 5/7/2022 1:01:53 AM

CONCORD — New Hampshire Republicans on Thursday thwarted attempts by Democrats to respond to this week’s leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft by enshrining the right to an abortion in state law.

New Hampshire has outlawed abortion after 24 weeks gestation since Jan. 1, thanks to a budget provision Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law last year. Anticipating the Supreme Court action, Democrats have sought to enshrine abortion rights into state law and the state constitution, only to have the bills tabled in the House earlier this year.

In both the House and Senate, they tried Thursday to amend other bills to add abortion protections to state law but were turned back.

Meanwhile, dozens of protesters turned out Friday evening in Hanover to listen to speakers who advocated for reproductive rights. Ady Chaudhari, Dartmouth sophomore and Planned Parenthood Generation Action co-president, said she saw the demonstration on campus as a way for students to productively voice their frustration with what is happening in the Supreme Court.

“There’s unity in our struggle, and I hate that our struggle is why we have that unity, but if this is going to be the reality that we live in we’re better off together, combining our forces to make it clear what we believe in,” she said.

Dartmouth freshman Esmeralda Abreu Jerez said given statistics that show Black women are more likely to die in childbirth, having abortion rights taken away adds to the oppression women of color face in the United States.

“I feel like if Roe goes down, everything else goes down,” she said.

Dartmouth freshman Eleanor Chase said she had always taken abortion rights for granted until she moved to New Hampshire for college and learned the state Legislature passed abortion restrictions last year.

“I didn’t realize how vulnerable this was,” she said. “It’s just really heartbreaking.”

In the House on Thursday, Republican Majority Leader Jason Osborne, of Auburn, accused Democrats of “grandstanding over the outrage du jour” and said taking up the bill was “just a waste of our time.”

Nearly seven hours later, the Senate voted down an amendment to protect access to abortion in New Hampshire. Instead, it approved the underlying bill, which would eliminate the safety zone that keeps protesters at least 25 feet away from abortion clinics.

Democrats pointed to other states in arguing in favor of enshrining abortion rights into law. Sen. Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, of Portsmouth, noted that Oklahoma’s governor on Tuesday signed a bill prohibiting doctors from performing an abortion after fetal activity is detected in the embryo.

“For years, I’ve heard we don’t need this in New Hampshire, and for many years that was indeed the case,” she said. “Times have changed, we do need these protections now. … The writing isn’t just on the wall; it is published and confirmed.”

But Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, said the amendment was unnecessary because there’s been no rush by New Hampshire Republicans to enact further restrictions or ban abortion outright in response to the leaked draft opinion, and abortion will remain legal in the state up to 24 weeks.

“Not one thing has happened. Why? Because when we passed this, we were careful, and we were deliberative. That’s the New Hampshire way,” she said. “We are not impulsive.”

Since enacting the 24-week ban, the Legislature has approved adding an exception for cases in which the fetus has been diagnosed with “abnormalities incompatible with life,” and Sununu plans to sign it. He described that bill Tuesday as a bipartisan measure to “expand access” to abortion without mentioning his role in restricting it.

The draft opinion leaked this week suggests the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion throughout the country, sending the abortion fight to the states.

At least eight GOP-led states have already passed new restrictions this year, expecting change from the conservative majority on the high court. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia, meanwhile, have protected access to abortion in state law, and several states moved to expand or strengthen those protections this year.

Valley News / Report for America staff photographer Alex Driehaus contributed to this report.




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