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New NH law will ban 'partial-birth' abortion

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 31, 2012 at 11:43 am •  Published: December 31, 2012

"I honestly don't believe it's going to be a change in practice. I don't think it's going to have a chilling effect at all," said Smith.

Kurt Wuelper, president of New Hampshire Right to Life, agrees.

"It won't really do much of anything, to tell you the truth," he said.

But Ellen Kolb, incoming legislative affairs director of Cornerstone Action, believes the bill's passage makes an important statement.

"Finally, New Hampshire has a policy in place that says while your right to an abortion is protected, it is not in the public's interest for a fetus to be partially delivered, then killed," she said.

Wuelper does not believe abortion opponents will get any bills passed during the next two years now that voters gave Democrats control of the House in the Nov. 6 election. Democrats also retained the governor's office.

"Democrats believe the absolute right to kill children is the number one priority in the country," he said. "Our chances of getting anything through the House are virtually nil."

Laura Thibault, interim executive director of the local NARAL Pro-Choice America group, is happy voters returned Democrats to power in the House, but says the last two years of Republican control show what can happen when abortion rights supporters don't pay attention to candidates' positions.

"I think what this past session showed is what one election can do," she said.

Before the outgoing Legislature's election in 2010, New Hampshire had thwarted dozens of efforts to pass legislation diluting women's abortion rights legalized in the Roe v. Wade landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision. New Hampshire had no laws regulating abortion on its books from 1997 to 2003, after abortion rights supporters succeeded in repealing three 1848 criminal abortion laws under then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, and a more moderate Republican Legislature. The state has consistently had agency rules in place banning most publicly funded abortions for poor women.

The one exception made over the years was enactment — under a Republican governor and Legislature — of a parental notification law for minors in 2003. The measure was never implemented and was later repealed by Democrats. Republicans overrode Lynch's veto of a similar notification law in 2011, and it took effect last January. The Legislature modified it in 2012 to give the judges more time to decide if pregnant girls must tell their parents before getting an abortion.

Lawmakers also passed a bill in 2012 to study how to collect abortion statistics.