Women Call on Gov. Sununu, State Legislature to Denounce Outrageous Attacks on Women’s Reproductive Rights Ahead of Committee, Floor Votes on Major Bills

Bills would label and prevent ‘vulnerable women’ from accessing abortions, define viability without medical standards, and put women’s health at risk; full House to vote next week on committee recommendations of OTP, ITL, and interim study

CONCORD, NH – Ahead of critical committee and floor votes in the New Hampshire House, Handmaids Coalition, Granite State Progress & Education Fund, and reproductive rights supporters called on Governor Chris Sununu and state lawmakers to reject a slew of outrageous bills that seek to block access to abortion and shame and demean women who seek them. These bills include:

  • HB 1707 which would impose a mandatory 24-hour waiting period on women seeking abortion services, and would have the government dictate what doctors tell their patients. (House Health and Human Services Committee voted 11-9 interim study on 2/23/18)
  • HB 1721 goes far beyond routine screening for women, labeling a woman a ‘vulnerable person’ and restricting access to abortion until another person clears her ability to make judgements about her own body. (House Judiciary Committee voted 15-3 inexpedient to legislate 2/27/18)
  • HB 1787 would allow health care providers to reject providing women abortions or even contraception coverage. The bill allows anyone from a physician to nurses or pharmacy employees to legally block women’s health access based on their own personal beliefs. (House Judiciary Committee voted 14-4 inexpedient to legislate 2/27/18)
  • HB 1680 which would prohibit abortions after viability – the decision of which would be made solely by the treating physician and without any basis in medical standards. (House Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 ought to pass 2/21/18)

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: “We are sick and tired of politicians attacking women’s health and demeaning and shaming women for exercising their constitutionally protected rights. These bills are in line with the Trump Administration and Congress’ continued attacks on access to quality, affordable health care, especially women’s health. This outrageous legislation in New Hampshire is one more attempt to make it more difficult for women and their families to decide when and if to have a family, and to have access to comprehensive health care coverage around those decisions. Anti-choice politicians have introduced bills to block or deny women access to birth control and abortions services, to delay a woman’s ability to have an abortion, to allow a physician to determine whether or not a woman can have an abortion based on personal beliefs instead of medical standards, and to label women who do seek an abortion as ‘vulnerable’ and restrict their access to such. Women are speaking out to protect our right to the full range of reproductive rights, from contraception coverage to abortion. We call on all elected officials, from Governor Chris Sununu to our State Senators and State Representatives, to make it clear they will stand with women by immediately and publicly denouncing these extreme attacks on women’s health.”

Statement from Handmaids Coalition Founder Emily Morgan: “These insidious bills and their sponsors go to no great lengths to hide their intent, which is to make it as difficult as possible, if not downright impossible, for women in New Hampshire to make their own decisions about their bodies and healthcare. The legislation is eerily reminiscent of the removal of rights we see portrayed in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale and Hulu’s popular drama of the same name. HB 1721 is particularly heinous with its ‘vulnerable person’ language. This bill is based around the general assumption that women are not intelligent or independent enough to make their own decisions, and enables a third party to assume control of a woman’s body while removing her ability to do so. This concept would return us to a past time in which women had no access to safe healthcare or control over their own bodies. It is shameful that in 2018 we have to continue to remind politicians of the fact that women are independent people  capable of rational and responsible thought, should be trusted to make our own decisions about our bodies and our healthcare, and that we do not need nor will we ever seek anyone’s permission to do so. This is part of a larger trend we are seeing in state legislatures across the nation. The parties sponsoring these bills have made it clear that they need not overturn Roe v. Wade, but can circumvent the Supreme Court’s decision by systematically chipping away at the rights guaranteed by that ruling at the state level.”

Handmaid Coalition and Granite State Progress Education Fund are committed to raising public awareness about the bills and how elected officials vote and speak about them. The groups are calling on Governor Sununu, in particular, to denounce the bills.

“For a politician who has played both sides of this issue, we call on Governor Sununu to clearly articulate where he stands on these outrageous bills that intend to block access to abortion and shame and demean women who seek them,” Rice Hawkins said. “Governor Sununu ran ads during the last election calling himself a champion for women’s health. Now is his opportunity to prove this claim by denouncing these bills and calling for legislation that expands access rather than cripples it,” Morgan said.

Handmaid Coalition, Granite State Progress Education Fund, and other supporters of reproductive rights will be back at the State House next week as the full House votes on the bills.

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