New Hampshire Legislators Vote Down Pro-Life Bill on Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 14, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New Hampshire Legislators Vote Down Pro-Life Bill on Abortion

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
March 14, 2004

Concord, NH ( — A bid to prevent anyone but doctors from performing abortions in New Hampshire has been blocked by the state legislature.

The House this week rejected House Bill 1177, a pro-life measure which would have, among other things, barred nurses from performing both surgical and chemical abortions.

The majority of lawmakers dismissed concerns that only doctors are qualified to perform abortions and to distribute the abortion pill RU 486. The abortion industry had argued that registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants have the training necessary to perform abortions under a doctor’s supervision.

Some pro-life advocates note that the debate in New Hampshire points out the challenges involved in trying to regulate chemical abortions. While abortions by pill are marketed by the abortion industry as a convenient alternative to medical abortions, chemical abortions have proven to be potentially dangerous for women.

A California teenager, 18-year-old Holly Patterson, died after taking RU-486. Her death prompted calls to remove the drug from the market.

"Women and girls die from abortions," said Roger Stenson, executive director of Citizens for Life, the New Hampshire affiliate of National Right to Life.

"Women and girls suffer immediate and dangerous physical complications from abortion. And they suffer long-term physical complications. Abortion is invasive and should not be done by medical workers who are not licensed physicians," Stenson added.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Fran Wendelboe, told the Manchester Union Leader that permitting non-physicians to perform even non-surgical abortions was akin to "practicing medicine without a license‚ĶAbortion is surgery."

Wendelboe noted that Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion, was based on the idea that only qualified professionals would perform abortions.

The legislation rejected by the New Hampshire House would have also permitted the collection of critical data about abortions and the women who have them.

"Opposition to this bill has been like playing with matches outside a tinder house containing the women of our state," said Stenson.

"Forty-seven states already have abortion data reporting requirements, forty-five have measures to protect women’s health by requiring abortions to be done only by licensed doctors and not other medical workers," Stenson said.

Even the U.S. Supreme Court has endorsed the idea of gathering abortion statistics, Stenson said.

In the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the High Court held that, "The collection of information with respect to actual patients is a vital element of medical research."

The Court added that reporting requirements do not violate a woman’s privacy, as long as her identity is kept confidential.

House Bill 1177 followed the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling by mandating anonymity — not only for patients, but for abortionists as well.

Supporters of the bill noted that the legislation would have been useful in monitoring trends in abortion rates and procedures, as well as collecting information about the races and ages of aborted children.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, New Hampshire, California, and Alaska are the only states that do not collect data about abortion.

Related web sites:
New Hampshire Citizens for Life:
Text of bill: