Viable Fetus Protection Act (HB 1680, 2018)

Cornerstone supports HB 1680, the Viable Fetus Protection Act. The bill is a good-faith attempt to reconcile the interests and concerns of women, their preborn children, and the health care professionals with whom a woman may choose to consult. It is consistent with Roe v. Wade, which granted states a right to assert an interest in the treatment of viable human fetuses while also asserting an interest in women’s health.

To tolerate the killing of viable preborn human beings not as the unintended outcome of efforts to protect a woman but as a direct intentional action in itself is simply uncivilized. We welcome HB 1680 as a step away from New Hampshire’s current hands-off policy regarding abortion in the seventh, eighth, and ninth months of pregnancy. 

Are you willing to say “not my business” if a near-term pregnancy ends in induced abortion? We’re not. 

Are you willing to defend and prolong our state’s current unfortunate policy of nearly unlimited abortion? We’re not. 

It is no secret that Cornerstone recognizes the dignity and worth of pregnant women AND their preborn children, who are human regardless of their stage of development or condition of dependency. Ideally, public policy regarding abortion would reflect that dignity. In that light, HB 1680 is not a perfect bill.  That’s often the case with legislation, as multiple interests are reconciled on the way to creating public policy. We support the bill nonetheless. The status quo – abortion legal at every point in pregnancy up until delivery, for any reason or no reason at all – is unacceptable.

Any assumption that abortions of viable preborn children do not occur in our state is unsupported by valid statistical information. We respectfully remind the committee that New Hampshire public health authorities do not require abortion providers to report anything about their procedures, including the gestational age at the time of termination. 

We understand that viability is a shifting standard, tied to the technology and skill available to health care providers as well as to the stamina of the individual human being in question. HB 1680 leaves the determination of viability in the hands of the abortion provider, which means the bill would not tie a provider’s hands.

The bill provides that if a child is born alive after attempted abortion, reasonable care measures shall be taken with respect to the child. The bill makes no attempt to outline those measures, leaving them in the hands of the physician. 

It’s important that the bill mention that a physician is to be the provider for advanced-term abortions. Currently in New Hampshire, there are no limitations on who may perform abortions. No medical training is required. The Viable Fetus Protection Act would rectify that in cases where the pregnancy is advanced and the viability of the fetus is in question.

We acknowledge that disagreements exist between those who respect the right to life from conception to natural death and those who favor a right to abortion.  HB 1680 may provide common ground. The bill respects women’s safety; it respects the autonomy and judgment of abortion providers; it calls for care for any child born alive. In fact, it hews closely to Roe v. Wade.  HB 1680 does not ask you to step back from Roe in any way.  

This bill invites you to move New Hampshire away from the position it now holds, where abortion is available throughout nine months of pregnancy.  Treating viable human beings as disposable is frankly, a barbaric position to defend. We urge you to consider those viable preborn children as human beings worthy of protection. We urge you to vote Ought to Pass on HB 1680.

Testimony delivered by executive director Shannon McGinley.