Tomorrow, the New Hampshire Senate will vote on HB 1609. Although this bill was originally introduced as a gutting bill designed to totally nullify our 24-week abortion ban—the Fetal Life Protection Act—the bill was fortunately curtailed by the New Hampshire House Finance Committee before being passed by the full House.
In its current form, HB 1609 adds an exception to the FLPA in cases of “fetal abnormalities incompatible with life.” Cornerstone takes no position, for or against, on the bill language passed by the House. However, Senator Regina Birdsell has introduced a floor amendment which we can endorse.
Senator Birdsell’s amendment creates a “safe haven” provision for unborn children diagnosed with fatal fetal abnormalities. Her amendment would provide that, if a child is diagnosed with any abnormality incompatible with life, a health care provider will always have the option of simply delivering the child. This will never count as an “abortion” so long as the provider does not perform any action, other than delivery, for the purpose of killing the child.
Senator Birdsell’s amendment is a common sense solution to an ongoing debate. The amendment would address the concerns of those who do not want women to be required to carry children diagnosed with fatal fetal abnormalities. At the same time, the amendment actually adds further protections for the lives of the preborn. This makes it a win-win compromise which we can unequivocally support.
Birdsell’s amendment protects the preborn because it will disincentivize late-term abortion tourism to Massachusetts and other states. When a child is diagnosed with a fatal fetal abnormality, and the mother wishes to end the pregnancy, her health care provider could offer to spare her the out-of-state trip by simply performing an induction here in New Hampshire. This procedure is perfectly safe for the mother.
Thanks to the great work of a group of Republicans in 2003, all hospitals in New Hampshire are “safe havens” for unwanted children. This means that, if the child is delivered and survives, the mother can leave the child at the hospital, no questions asked.
And if the child is delivered outside the hospital and is unwanted, any 911 responder can take custody of the child with no consequences for the mother.
Senator Birdsell’s floor amendment continues her commendable work on behalf of the preborn by creating a new kind of safe haven: a statutory safe harbor allowing for the delivery of children who have been diagnosed with fatal fetal abnormalities.
To be clear, while we would support HB 1609 if Senator Birdsell’s floor amendment passes, Cornerstone remains neutral on the bill text passed by the New Hampshire House. In the event that the Senate rejects Senator Birdsell’s floor amendment, Cornerstone will not grade senators on their votes on the House’s version of HB 1609. However, we do endorse Senator Birdsell’s floor amendment, and we hope you will do the same.
Time is short: the full New Hampshire Senate will vote on HB 1609 tomorrow. Contact your senator now and ask them to support Senator Birdsell’s safe haven floor amendment.