The New Hampshire House on February 10 defeated two bills that sought to ban dismemberment abortions and to protect infants born live after attempted abortion. On motions of “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL), the vote was 163-136 on the dismemberment ban and 167-116 on the born-alive infant protection bill. The bills reached the House floor after the Judiciary Committee voted 9-7 ITL on both measures.
Calling for the defeat of the ban on dismemberment abortion, also known as D&E, Rep. Linda Kenison (D-Concord) called the abortion procedure “safe” and “the most common method of second trimester pre-viability abortion to the ten percent (10%) of women who make a difficult decision to terminate their pregnancy.”She also cited concerns about similar legislation from Kansas and Oklahoma being blocked by courts. Rep. Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford) defended the bill: “No baby should ever be subjected to being physically torn limb-from-limb, which is precisely what the D&E does. Our Constitution forbids ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment for crimes. We apply this principle even to those who have committed crimes so serious they have received the death penalty. We believe the pre-born child, having committed no crime, deserves similar mercy.”
Wuelper led the floor fight on the born-alive bill, trying in vain to overturn the committee’s ITL report. “These children are under the knife of abortion. They are destined to die at the hands of their, quote, medical provider, end quote, but somehow, they manage to survive. The question before us: should that baby who has so far exceeded expectations to come out alive, should that baby be protected?” Rep. Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland) urged his colleagues to kill the bill. “I think what may have been persuasive to a majority of the Judiciary Committee, bipartisan, Republican and Democrat, is that ideology and beliefs aside, this is a poorly-drafted unworkable bill which would create of risk of making felons of doctors and nurses.
“This bill would require doctors to employ extraordinary resuscitation measures for pre-viable fetuses that are born as a result of preterm or early labor or termination, even when there is no chance of viability or survival,” said Berch. In fact, the bill would have called for “nourishment” and “medically appropriate and reasonable medical care,” with no mention of extraordinary measures.
New Hampshire’s only abortion regulations, both enacted over gubernatorial vetoes, are a parental notification statute passed in 2011 and a ban on partial-birth abortion passed in 2012. A bill introduced more than a year ago to require state collection of abortion statistics awaits Senate action.
For more on these bills, see Leaven for the Loaf for coverage of committee hearing, committee reports, and floor debate.