Yesterday, the GOP-led New Hampshire House voted 179-174 in favor of House Bill 1609. The House rejected an amendment proposed by the House HHS Committee—which Cornerstone supported—and instead passed the bill in its original form.
As passed by the House, HB 1609 completely guts the Fetal Life Protection Act, or FLPA: a 6-month abortion ban that is our state’s only protection for late-term unborn children.
The House bill strips out the law’s enforcement mechanism—its narrow ultrasound requirement—making it impossible to convict any abortionist for violating the law.
Additionally, the House bill adds an open-ended “health” exception to the law, making abortionists the final word on when abortions can occur. US courts are clear: adding an undefined “health” exception to an abortion ban means that an abortionist can perform an abortion for any reason he deems appropriate—including even “economic” reasons—at any time.
The current text of the FLPA already contains a carefully-defined health exception allowing late-term abortions whenever there is a serious risk to a mother’s physical well-being. The sole purpose of the new “health” exception—as well as the complete removal of the ultrasound requirement—is to nullify the law in bad faith.
By voting to pass HB 1609, the New Hampshire House has just won the tragic distinction of being the only Republican-led legislative body in America since Roe v. Wade to vote in favor of authorizing unlimited abortion up to birth. The House’s vote yesterday was even more pro-abortion than Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
In December of 2020, Massachusetts—which formerly had a felony 6-month abortion ban—legalized abortion up to birth by passing the “ROE Act,” a law functionally identical to HB 1609. Like HB 1609, the “ROE Act” nullified Massachusetts’ abortion ban by stripping out key enforcement provisions and adding open-ended exceptions. Although Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is known as a moderate and socially liberal Republican, this was too extreme even for Baker, who vetoed the bill. In December of 2020, a strong Democratic majority in Massachusetts’ legislature overrode the veto.
Some might defend the New Hampshire House by saying that only a minority of House Republicans voted in favor of HB 1609 yesterday. But this would be to excuse the systemic problems in our House GOP. Republican leadership knowingly installed a pro-abortion extremist as Judiciary Committee Chair and has refused to remove him, even as the Committee continues to churn out pro-abortion legislation.
Cornerstone was saddened, but by now unsurprised, that Governor Chris Sununu has continued to openly support this bill, making Sununu more pro-abortion than Charlie Baker and the most pro-abortion GOP Governor currently serving in any state.
In 2016, Sununu—although generally pro-choice—promised pro-life voters in writing that he would support a late-term abortion ban. We now know that this was a lie.
Now that millions of dollars have been spent attacking New Hampshire’s 6-month abortion ban, Governor Sununu, in a display of weakness, has reversed his position. His continued support for HB 1609 has made it clear that, contrary to his promises, he will oppose any enforceable prohibition on late-term abortion—rejecting even moderate compromises—and will only be content with a purely symbolic abortion law that has no ability to save a single life. A meaningless, nominal abortion ban, which will only help GOP politicians deceive their constituents, is worse than no law at all.
Pro-lifers may be tempted to react to yesterday’s betrayals by threatening to refrain from voting for Republicans in future elections. However, this is no longer enough. Pro-lifers have threatened to sit out elections for decades. These threats have accomplished nothing.
Pro-life voters are a large and cohesive voting block in New Hampshire—a state which also happens to have a uniquely representative form of government. Our Republican Party, despite claiming in its platform that life is sacred “from conception,” has repeatedly been unwilling to fight for even modest protections for the preborn. And some influential and powerful Republicans, including Governor Sununu, have pledged to openly work against their own platform and any concessions that honor the beliefs of their pro-life constituents.
Pro-life Granite Staters must begin to think outside the box. With HB 1609 on the verge of success, we may soon have nothing to lose. After decades of futile patience with the Republican Party, it is time to fight.
Why are Sununu and other Republicans doing the bidding of pro-abortion extremists? Not because they hope the pro-abortion lobby will support them. Instead, they are afraid that the abortion lobby will actively harm their political interests if they do not kowtow to its demands.
In the same way, it is no longer enough for pro-lifers to threaten to simply withhold support from Republicans. If our state GOP truly takes a stand for life, it will only be because it knows that pro-life voters will actively harm its political interests unless it agrees to make compromises in favor of life.
In the meantime, there is still one remaining chance for the House to reject HB 1609 or pass the HHS Amendment to the bill. HB 1609 is currently going before the House Finance Committee. The bill will then return to the House floor for another vote. Contact the House Finance Committee and tell them to oppose the bill, then contact your GOP representatives and demand that they do everything in their power to fight for the FLPA. We need to be a loud and vocal force impossible to ignore.