Yes to Meaningful Informed Consent for Abortion (HB 1707-FN, 2018)

Cornerstone urges passage of HB 1707-FN, the Abortion Information Act. We are concerned about public policy regarding a woman’s right to have full information, and adequate time to consider it, before making a decision to have an abortion.

HB 1707 is drafted to be consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 Casey decision which reaffirmed the basic holding of Roe v. Wade¬†while also upholding Pennsylvania regulations on abortion. Among the regulations deemed acceptable by the Court was a 24-hour reflection period, provided there was an exception for medical emergencies. The bill before you today includes such a waiting period and does not challenge the Court’s abortion precedents.

We ask that you consider these points when voting on this bill.

  • According to Americans United for Life, at least 24 other states have pre-abortion reflection periods in effect, ranging from 18 hours to 72 hours.
  • The 2016 Hellerstadt case, in which the Supreme Court struck down some protective legislation from Texas, did not strike down reflection periods.
  • There is no limitation in New Hampshire on who may perform abortions, with or without medical credentials. HB 1707 would change that to “physicians.” Even if that provision were to be amended to include other medical professionals, it would be an improvement over the status quo. If abortion is a medical procedure as its advocates claim, then treat it as one and limit its performance to medical professionals.
  • We welcome the bill’s provision that no one may insist on payment for a woman’s abortion until a she has had 24 hours to consider the information she has received about the pending abortion procedure.
  • Withholding the information called for in HB 1707, on the grounds that women “don’t need to know it” – an objection heard on earlier informed consent bills – is a paternalistic attitude inconsistent with women’s health.
  • In earlier years, informed consent legislation has met with a claim that “abortion is safer than childbirth.” If you are faced with this claim during your deliberations on HB 1707, please remember that it is an unprovable claim as far as the experience of New Hampshire women is concerned, since data is lacking. New Hampshire does not track any abortion statistics, including post-abortion maternal morbidity and mortality.

HB 1707 respects women’s health while being consistent with Supreme Court precedents. We urge swift passage.

Testimony delivered by executive director Shannon McGinley.