The GOP-Led House Judiciary Committee Just Voted to Return to Abortion Up to Birth

On September 28, at an executive session of the House Judiciary Committee, two Republican members of the Committee—Rep. Ned Gordon (Alexandria, Ashland, Bridgewater, Bristol, Grafton) and Rep. Joe Alexander (Goffstown)—advanced an underhanded plan to destroy the Fetal Life Protection Act, New Hampshire’s only protection for late-term preborn children. 

Taking up an obscure pro-life bill that had been retained from the previous legislative session, the Republican-led Committee rewrote the bill—HB 622—into what is effectively a complete repeal of New Hampshire’s late-term abortion ban, rendering it unenforceable and meaningless. By gutting our only protection for the late-term preborn, the rewritten bill would effectively return New Hampshire to unrestricted abortion up to birth. 

For decades, New Hampshire allowed children to be aborted for any reason and at any time—all while refusing to collect any statistics on how many late-term abortions were being performed. In June, the Fetal Life Protection Act finally became the state’s first ban on late-term abortion. The law prohibits abortion at 24 weeks, i.e. 6 months, of pregnancy: a modest compromise that won the support of many pro-choice Republicans. You can learn all about the new law here

Although the law itself is modest, New Hampshire made history by passing it, becoming the first state to go from allowing unlimited abortion to enacting a late-term abortion ban. Unfortunately, New Hampshire could soon make history again. If the efforts of Gordon, Alexander, and their allies succeed, New Hampshire will have the first Republican-led state government in the United States to effectively authorize abortion up to birth. 

New Hampshire’s Republican platform states that “life is sacred from conception to natural death.” Yet, sadly, Gordon and Alexander are not alone in their attempts to gut our state’s only protection for children in their last months before birth. Another Republican representative, Dan Wolf (New London and Newbury) has introduced a separate bill to nullify the late-term abortion ban.

In the wake of a million-dollar pro-abortion advertising campaign targeting the Fetal Life Protection Act, establishment Republicans are—as usual—rushing to appease progressives. They are circling the new law with knives drawn—knowing full well that the lives of even viable children are on the line. 

To the best of our knowledge, never in American politics has a coordinated group of Republicans so utterly rejected pro-life principles and shown such total contempt for the pro-life voters who elected them. Even Planned Parenthood v. Casey, often seen by pro-life activists as a deep betrayal, merely preserved the status quo: it did not authorize abortion up to birth.

As rewritten by the Republican-led Judiciary Committee, HB 622 would gut the late-term abortion ban by stripping out the law’s modest ultrasound provision

Because the Fetal Life Protection Act prohibits abortion at a specific number of weeks, an ultrasound is necessary to determine the child’s age. Yet the ultrasound requirement in the law is extremely narrow. Under the law, an abortion provider can only be punished for not performing an ultrasound if he “consciously disregards a substantial risk” that the child is 24 weeks or older. 

Think carefully about what removing the ultrasound provision actually means. Gordon and Alexander’s desire to remove this provision has no possible purpose except to allow an abortionist who knows that a child is probably 24 weeks old to willfully skip the ultrasound, murdering the child and evading prosecution. Removing this provision would render the late-term abortion ban impossible to enforce.

Gordon and Alexander likely had different motives. Chairman Gordon is an ideologically committed pro-abortion extremist who, from his position as Judiciary Chair, has consistently worked to thwart every pro-life victory and protect unlimited abortion. Alexander, on the other hand, actually voted for the Fetal Life Protection Act earlier this year. Does he now imagine he is cunningly “playing the game” and jumping to what he believes to be the winning side?

Yet Gordon also played politics, obscuring and concealing his actions. Republicans hold the House Judiciary Committee by an 11-10 majority. By the time it was Gordon’s turn to vote on the rewritten HB 622, Alexander had already joined the Democrats in voting to pass it. Gordon then voted “no” on the rewritten HB 622, effectively hiding behind Alexander’s vote.

Yet Gordon cannot disguise his intentions. Earlier that very day, Gordon had personally introduced a version of HB 622 that was functionally identical to the one that Alexander and the Democrats passed. 

Polls show that, at a bare minimum, well over a hundred thousand Granite Staters are hardline pro-lifers. These pro-lifers have voted for Republican politicians, year after year, for decades. Yet, even when New Hampshire had a Republican supermajority, pro-lifers were not given a single chronological limitation on abortion. 

Now that New Hampshire finally has a modest late-term abortion ban—one that even moderate Democrats would have considered acceptable only a few years ago—Republicans are moving rapidly to take it away, leaving pro-life voters with nothing but the meaningless husk of an unenforceable law. 

At a time when the state GOP is already facing intense internal division over COVID-19, New Hampshire Republicans are courting an unprecedented breach with their pro-life wing. Cornerstone hopes that House Republican leadership will act to restore order, enforce the party platform through restructuring important committee appointments, and maintain the Republican coalition by standing firmly behind our state’s moderate six-month abortion ban.

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