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Tipsheet

New Abortion Restrictions Will Go into Effect in New Hampshire on Jan. 1

AP Photo/Steve Helber

On Jan. 1, a new law will take effect in New Hampshire that prohibits abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, local outlet Boston 25 News reported Thursday.

According to Boston 25, New Hampshire’s “Family Life Protection Act” will ban abortions under most circumstances after 24 weeks gestation, which is toward the end of the second trimester of pregnancy. Additionally, the law requires an ultrasound to be performed before all abortions in the state. Health care providers who violate the law could face up to seven years in prison.

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Jason Hennessey, the president of New Hampshire Right to Life, told Boston 25 that his organization has been working towards laws like the Family Life Protection Act for some time.

“There’s a lot of us in New Hampshire who believe that an unborn child is a person, and we have been working for those people’s human rights for a long time,” he said.

Currently, there is a major Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that could overturn landmark abortion cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Court heard oral arguments for the case Dec. 1 and a decision is expected next summer. Dobbs surrounds the constitutionality of a 15 week abortion ban in Mississippi. 

Hennessey noted that Dobbs could change the direction of abortion laws in the future and empower more state legislatures to implement abortion restrictions.

“We’re very hopeful, but we have to be humble,” he told Boston 25. “Many people are praying about this, that our nation could change in that direction.”

He added that “there’s a lot more momentum on one side than the other,” comparing the pro-life and pro-abortion movements.

According to the report, other bills are currently being drafted in New Hampshire to enact more restrictions on abortion.

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“One would prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Another would empower a biological father to seek a court injunction to stop termination,” Boston 25’s report stated. 

This year, as I covered, the Supreme Court upheld a Texas abortion law, S.B. 8, that bans abortions after fetal heartbeat detection. However, the Court ruled that abortion clinics in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson could sue the state over the law and returned the case back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court did not allow the Justice Department’s case, United States v. Texas, to move forward.

After S.B. 8 was enacted in Texas, reports indicated that women in the state were traveling to New England, particularly, Maine, for abortion procedures. A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England told Portland-based outlet WGME that their clinics had seen an uptick in out-of-state patients.

“What it shows us is that even a state as far away as Texas, it just can have broad implications for the rest of the country,” spokesperson Nicole Clegg told WGME. “We’re happy to provide that care, but we’re also really sad that they have to travel so far.”

Kayla Montgomery, who is vice president of public affairs at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, told Boston 25 that New Hampshire’s new legislation is “dangerous” and said “it’s the first abortion ban in modern New Hampshire history.”

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“It’s surprising because New Hampshire has a long bipartisan tradition of supporting privacy, particularly when it comes to personal medical decisions,” Montgomery added. “This flies in the face of Granite State values.”

Hennessey told outlet GBH that “there’s no way to enforce the law unless an ultrasound is done to ascertain the age of the unborn child.” 

“We really just want the baby’s interests to be taken into consideration, and that’s what the prime motivation of this law was,” he added.

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