Conscientious Objections to Abortion: Every Person’s Right (SB 486)

Full text of testimony on SB 486-FN submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee by Shannon McGinley, Executive Director, Cornerstone Action.

Cornerstone Action urges you to vote “inexpedient to legislate” on SB 486-FN. This bill is not about health care or parity. It’s about coercing people into helping to pay for others’ abortions, even when that violates sincerely-held religious beliefs. This is poor public policy that is wrong for New Hampshire. 

  • The plain language of SB 486-FN applies to insurers, as defined in RSA 417-D:1, II. In practice, however, anyone involved in providing health insurance for others – i.e. employers – would be helping to provide abortions.
  • SB 486-FN and it is sure to entangle our state in litigation as a violation of religious liberty and conscience rights, and it could also subject the state to a loss of federal funding under the Weldon Amendment. The provision beginning on line 10 of the bill, authorizing the commissioner to grant minimal exemptions as needed to keep federal dollars flowing, does not allay our concern. Those exemptions would likely be on a case-by-case basis in order to meet the minimum requirements of the Weldon Amendment. That would be unsatisfactory. Religious liberty is a fundamental right under both the U.S. and New Hampshire Constitutions. It should not rest on a commissioner’s case-by-case exemptions in order to be respected, nor should it rely on federal rules that can change from one Administration to the next.
  • SB 486-FN seeks to force employers to be involved in employees’ abortion decisions, if the employer offers health insurance as an employee benefit. Nothing in the bill acknowledges that an employer or insurer could have religious or conscientious objections to abortion. The bill is clear that it would apply to all insurance policies that cover maternity benefits. No exceptions are listed. We believe that the lack of exceptions is a feature of the bill rather than an oversight by the sponsors.
  • SB 486-FN is a politically motivated attempt to use insurance regulations to sidestep longstanding statutory and administrative restrictions on public funding of abortion. Its supporters want to extract from you what they cannot get any other way: expanded abortion funding. 

For these reasons, SB 486-FN deserves an “inexpedient to legislate” recommendation.