Republicans in the New Hampshire state legislature want to ban abortion for minors without parental notification — and they actually might "have a shot," according to NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire Executive Director Pilar Olivo. Midterm elections put not just Republicans but men in the majority.
Currently, New Hampshire is living up to its motto, "Live Free or Die," by not having any abortion restriction laws that control female bodies on the books. But Republicans apparently have less respect for the state motto. And there are concerns that this initial bill proposal is only the start of an agenda against women's control of their bodies.
Parental notification or consent laws often get by after being framed as "parent rights" bills, or in the best interest of "the children." However, a youth who doesn't voluntarily share the decision to have an abortion with her parents might have a good reason, such as having been physically or sexually abused by a family member, or religious extremists parents who might disown or harm the girl if they knew she was considering an abortion, or even for being sexually active.
In addition, parental notification laws tend to delay the abortion procedure, which increases in risk later in the pregnancy. Getting an exemption usually requires a teenager to prove abuse at home — not necessarily the easiest thing to do, especially with the clock ticking for an already pregnant youth to access an abortion. However it's framed, notification laws are meant to put up another barrier to keep the right guaranteed by Roe v. Wade from being exercised.
Democratic Gov. John Lynch says he's keeping his mind open about whether he'd sign this bill or not if it made it to his desk. Given that Lynch has already made it crystal clear that any attempt to repeal same-sex marriage will get the veto axe, his failure to stand up for reproductive in the same way is disappointing.
Republicans in New Hampshire have been trying to undermine reproductive rights for decades. Don't let this be the year they succeed.
Photo credit: Heather Busby