For years, New Hampshire’s “buffer zone” law has allowed private abortion clinics to ban sidewalk counseling and protesting on the public sidewalks outside their facilities. This law is a naked violation of the First Amendment. However, as abortion clinics have never actually enforced the law, it cannot be challenged in court.
Knowing that the law would be struck down if it is ever actually enforced, New Hampshire abortion clinics have avoided enforcing the law while, at the same time, campaigning vigorously against any legislative attempts to repeal it. The clinics’ goal apparently is to keep the law on the books as a deterrent to free speech through the threat of possible punishment.
HB 1625, introduced by Rep. Niki Kelsey and passed by the House this week, will finally repeal the buffer zone law. This victory has been long in coming. HB 1625 now moves on to a vote in the Senate.
Please thank your Republican representatives who voted for the bill—zero Democrats did so—and especially representatives Kelsey, Mark McLean, and Jeanine Notter for their leadership on the House floor and during the Judiciary process.
There were some Republicans who, along with all of their Democrat colleagues present, voted to allow prohibiting free speech outside abortion clinics, including representatives Joe Alexander, Joseph Depalma, Brodie Deshaies, Ned Gordon, John Graham, Bonnie Ham, Claire Rouillard, Dennis Thompson, Dan Wolf, and Josh Yokela.
Most of these votes are unsurprising. Rep. Alexander was instrumental in a previous attempt to destroy the state’s six-month abortion ban—although he fortunately listened to his constituents and voted to defend the six-month ban this week. Rep. Josh Yokela portrays himself as an advocate of liberty, but his support of others’ freedom of speech apparently is conditional on their agreement with his pro-abortion stance.