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PNS Daily News - September 22, 2020 


The Supreme Court vacancy raises stakes for a reproductive-rights campaign; voter-registration deadlines are just around the corner; and the pandemic compounds child-care woes.


2020Talks - September 22, 2020 


It's National Voter Registration Day. Plus, the Supreme Court and abortion are back, center stage, in the election spotlight.

Women's Reproductive Health in Play in Granite State

Devon Chaffee of ACLU of New Hampshire is giving Granite State lawmakers credit for holding the line on women's reproductive rights this legislative session. (ACLU of New Hampshire)
Devon Chaffee of ACLU of New Hampshire is giving Granite State lawmakers credit for holding the line on women's reproductive rights this legislative session. (ACLU of New Hampshire)
March 15, 2016

CONCORD, N. H. – Women's reproductive rights have been a major issue on the campaign trail and also at the New Hampshire State House this session.

One person keeping track of the reproductive health bills is Devon Chaffee, executive director of ACLU New Hampshire.

According to Chaffee, more than a dozen measures were filed this session that she says would have put some facet of women's health at risk. As of this week, she notes, state lawmakers have rejected six of the restrictive measures.

"New Hampshire is holding the line," says Chaffee. "The legislators are saying, 'We do not want these types of restrictions in our state,' whether they be restrictions on abortion-care providers, or restrictions on the types of procedures that a woman can have access to."

The unsuccessful bills – HB 1328, HB 1399, HB 1623, HB 1625, HB 1636 and HB 1663 – all can be viewed on the New Hampshire General Court website, by typing the bill number on the line "Find a 2016 bill."

Chaffee notes there are still several more measures pending that she believes are of concern. She says the Granite State has a strong tradition of respecting women and doctors, and trusting them to make their own, private decisions about pregnancy and childbearing.

One of the measures still alive this session, HB 560, approaches "personhood" when it comes to according new rights to a fetus under state criminal law.

"There's a really concerning potential that the rights of the fetus and the rights of the mother carrying the child will be seen almost as adversarial," she explains. "It really threatens to infringe upon women's rights when you start to recognize the independent rights of the fetus that she is carrying."

Chaffee says both the House and the Senate have passed significantly different versions of the so-called "fetus bill" legislation, so its fate remains uncertain.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH