Overturning Roe v. Wade would send abortion fight to states

  • Demonstrators protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday in Washington. A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report released Monday. Jose Luis Magana / AP

  • Dave Behrle, 70, of Safety Harbor holds a sign while standing outside the All Women's Health Center of Clearwater on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. A draft of a U.S. Supreme Court brief was leaked Monday that suggests the court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case. (Chris Urso/Tampa Bay Times via AP) CHRIS URSO

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    Derenda Hancock, co-organizer of the "Pinkhouse Defenders," a group of volunteers that shield and escort patients entering the Women's Health Organization (JWHO), Mississippi's last remaining abortion clinic, called the "Pinkhouse", stands watch Tuesday, May 3, 2022 in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) Rogelio V. Solis

  • Longtime anti-abortion activist Barbara Beavers, left, prays as she waits by the entrance to the Jackson Women's Health Organization (JWHO), Mississippi's last remaining abortion clinic parking lot, to hand out pro-life materials to an incoming patients, Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. Clinic escorts stand on the other side of the entrance to direct and deflect any interference from anti-abortion protestors. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) Rogelio V. Solis

  • A crowd of people gather outside the Supreme Court, early Tuesday, in Washington, D.C. Alex Brandon / AP

  • Dalia Vidunas, executive director of the Equality Health Center, last July. Monitor file

Published: 5/4/2022 3:08:52 PM
Modified: 5/4/2022 3:07:21 PM

Dalia Vidunas hoped the country was past the point of chipping away at abortion rights, but she’s a realist.

As the director of the Equality Health Center in Concord for the past 12 years, she’s seen repeated bills at the state level that sought to restrict a woman’s access to abortion and legislative efforts to restrict funding to clinics like hers that provide abortions.

She has no doubt those efforts will increase if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, leaving it up to states to decide if abortion should be allowed or outlawed.

“We don’t think this will stop,” she said of efforts to roll back reproductive rights in New Hampshire. “We think this will embolden them.”

On Tuesday morning, Gov. Chris Sununu released a statement to assure Granite Staters he would protect abortion rights.

“So long as I am governor, these health care services for women will remain safe and legal,” the statement read.

This statement was in line with his longstanding, public stance that he supports abortion rights and is committed to upholding Roe v. Wade.

But for many reproductive rights advocates who have fought anti-abortion legislation session after session, Sununu’s promises were less than reassuring.

Kayla Montgomery, the vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Northern New England, pointed to the governor’s actions last year when he signed a budget that included a ban on abortion that made it illegal to terminate a pregnancy after 24 weeks of gestation.

“To be clear, it was Gov. Sununu who signed New Hampshire’s first abortion ban in modern history just last year,” Montgomery said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

Furthermore, two Democrat-led bills to protect access to abortion care and a Constitutional Amendment that would have made access to abortion a guaranteed right all died in the legislature this session. Other bills were filed to further restrict access to abortion, including House Bill 1080, which would have allowed doctors to refuse to perform abortions and HB 1181, which would have allowed the father of an unborn child to halt a woman’s abortion.

Neither of those bills succeeded, but they represent the types of legislation that is filed year after year in New Hampshire, Vidunas said. Even when legislative attempts to pass a ban on abortion in New Hampshire failed, Republican legislators still found a way.

“I’m not confident New Hampshire won’t get worse,” she said. “We’ve already seen when New Hampshire legislators don’t get their way, they’ll take the back door route.”

Montgomery emphasized that abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy are still safe and legal in the United States and patients with appointments scheduled should not cancel their appointments.

“This is an extremely scary time for patients and for providers. There’s a lot of confusion,” she said. “As shocking as this decision and the way this has come out is, it is not a shock to providers that this was coming. Now more than ever we need to pass a law that codifies the right to have an abortion in New Hampshire.”

Sununu publicly supported one bipartisan abortion bill, HB 1909, that clarified New Hampshire’s abortion ban by allowing for exceptions in the case of fatal fetal anomalies after 24-weeks of gestation. That bill is on its way to the governor.

Still, to frame the debate around abortion and health care decisions a little differently, Vidunas had a comparison.

“It’s easier to buy a gun than it is to get an abortion,” she said. “What does that tell you.”

The Supreme Court confirmed the leaked draft was an authentic document but said Tuesday “it does not represent a decision by the court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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