Fact Check on the Gubernatorial Debate and Abortion in NH

State Senator Tom Sherman, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate and a physician, recently debated with Governor Chris Sununu on Good Morning New Hampshire. We listened with interest as the very first topic covered was New Hampshire’s new abortion law. In a world where facts are often sacrificed for the sake of messaging, we feel it’s important to hold both candidates accountable to the truth, which sadly was in short supply during this exchange. 

Senator Sherman was given this question: “You’ve repeatedly called New Hampshire’s law on abortion rights “Sununu’s abortion ban,” yet New Hampshire’s law does not restrict abortion at all the first six months. It’s only the seventh, eighth, and ninth month, the last trimester when there are restrictions. Do you favor any ban on abortion, and why is it a ‘Sununu abortion ban?’”

Senator Sherman said, “If you look at the bill Sununu signed into law, what we have is a woman, her doctor, and a lawyer, because, in the third trimester, it’s only the life of the mother, or…there’s not another exception unless it’s fatal fetal anomalies. So what we’ve seen is that a doctor will have to sit down with a woman and a lawyer and decide if she’s sick enough to get appropriate medical care, and if she’s not sick enough, they have to wait.”

Dr. Sherman’s statement here is misleading.

What the law actually states is that exceptions are for “fetal anomalies incompatible with life,” or when “an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman… or when continuation of the pregnancy will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function…”  

If you look at the full scope of exceptions for the mother, these are far broader than a terminal diagnosis, giving more discretional latitude than the Senator implies. However, we can’t help but admire how deftly he worked an attorney into this picture when such a scenario would hardly be called for.

Governor Sununu remarked on the abortion ban itself. “(It’s) not my abortion ban. I didn’t want to put that in the budget. The legislature did that, but of course we weren’t going to shut down the government and veto the budget over it. I supported Roe v. Wade, but nothing changed from the day before to the day after…If they want more flexibility, such as decriminalization and exceptions for rape and incest, I’m all for that.”

This is sadly true. 

When Sununu says “decriminalization,” he is advocating for removing any penalties from this six-month abortion ban. It doesn’t take a lawyer to figure out that Sununu favors nullifying the entire law and authorizing the unlimited abortion of viable children until the day of birth.

This speaks not only to Sununu’s pro-abortion extremism, but to his character. At least Senator Sherman has the decency to be fully candid about his pro-abortion extremism. In contrast, Governor Sununu – who has exactly the same policy position of unlimited abortion until the day of birth –  often obscured his extremism behind rhetorical gymnastics. 

Despite his promises to the pro-life community, Governor Sununu did his best to undermine these modest protections for the preborn. While he is correct that the overturning of Roe v. Wade did not impact abortion law in New Hampshire, he has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to gut the law or render it unenforceable through open-ended exceptions, decriminalization, and removing any objective measurement of gestational age.

Governor Sununu also had this to say, “To say this is an extreme ban at 24 weeks, it’s exactly the same as Massachusetts, exactly the same as New York.”

This is false.

We’re beginning to sound like a broken record on this statement, but here we go again. The Governor has repeated this talking point many times. It is true that, up to a few years ago, there were restrictions with penalties after the first 24 weeks in New York and Massachusetts. 

New York nullified its law in 2019. In 2020, Massachusetts enacted an open-ended exception giving abortionists complete discretion to kill late-term unborn children, while also removing any penalties.

This is, of course, exactly what Governor Sununu would like to do here. His sympathy for these deep blue, far-left states is a reminder that Sununu is the most hardcore and extreme pro-abortion GOP Governor in the country – even to the left of Charlie Baker, who unsuccessfully vetoed Massachusetts’ 2020 law. 

When asked what he considered “pro-choice” and whether he supported any abortion restrictions, Senator Sherman said this, “In the last trimester, we don’t do elective abortion. It doesn’t happen…(Ultimately), a woman has the right to make a decision with her doctor.”

This statement has no factual basis. 

The fact is New Hampshire has no reporting requirement for abortions, so we simply don’t have the numbers concerning late-term abortions. If they don’t happen, why has the abortion lobby invested millions of dollars to ensure women can freely terminate viable children in the final months of pregnancy? However, as the Governor rightly pointed out, “We don’t even have that data, and Tom Sherman voted against collecting that data.”

When all is said and done, as Governor Sununu pointed out, it’s difficult to distinguish between the two candidates and their stand on abortion. After all, Governor Sununu reiterated that he supports the complete destruction of the current law, and Senator Sherman agrees. When all the facts are weighed, that is the one most worth understanding: there is no difference whatsoever between the two major candidates on abortion. 

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