Proposal to remove ultrasound requirement from abortion ban legislation rejected

By: - June 16, 2021 5:03 pm
Pro choice signs held up at a rally

Sen. Cindy Rosenwald argued that including the ultrasound requirement would be interfering with patients’ health care decisions. (Getty Images)

Republican House and Senate negotiators declined to remove a proposal requiring ultrasounds before abortions in New Hampshire Wednesday, closing off the likelihood of any changes to a 24-week abortion ban before the Legislature passes the budget.

In an amendment presented to a budget negotiation committee Wednesday, Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat, pushed to remove the requirement for ultrasounds from the broader abortion restriction legislation.

The most well known piece of that legislation would ban abortions after 24 weeks except when the mother’s life is at risk. But the bill also states that a health care provider must conduct an obstetric ultrasound any time an abortion has been requested by a patient. 

Top State House Republicans, who control the House and Senate, have expressed agreement with the 24-week ban, and Gov. Chris Sununu has indicated he would sign a budget that included the ban.

But Rosenwald, the lone Democrat on the committee of conference for the budget bill, argued that including the ultrasound requirement would be interfering with patients’ health care decisions. 

“They are unnecessary and they will contribute to higher medical spending and likely increased health care premiums,” Rosenwald said. 

The ultrasound requirement would apply to all abortions being requested by patients, including those before the 24-week limit.

Rep. Jess Edwards, an Auburn Republican, said that the requirement was meant to give patients the full information. 

“As I understand, the history of requiring ultrasounds before an abortion – it’s been primarily about providing the mother an opportunity to really provide informed consent,” he said. “That the ultrasound images can be useful for that mother to connect to the baby that’s inside of her so that she’s better able to make a decision about whether or not she wants to go forward with the procedure.”

Rosenwald countered that using an ultrasound before every decision is not the medical standard and should be at the request of the patient. 

“I think the result of that is to imply that women are not capable of making decisions about their own families, bodies, economic security, and future without intervention that’s not considered medically necessary.”

Rosenwald’s amendment did not succeed; no other member of the committee moved to “second” the motion.

“This is like many of my suggestions for the budget; they just don’t go anywhere,” Rep. Lynne Ober, a Hudson Republican said. “Especially the one that gets me a new car or something.”

Later Wednesday, Rosenwald was removed from the committee of conference, a standard maneuver after she indicated she would not support the final version of House Bill 2, the budget trailer bill. That bill must have unanimous approval by the committee of conference in order to proceed to the full House and Senate. 

In a statement, Kayla Montgomery, vice president of policy at Planned Parenthood of New Hampshire, called the rejection “yet another example of politicians substituting their judgment for medical professionals’ expertise.”

“Requiring mandatory ultrasounds defies medical standards and guidelines, and is a shameful barrier to care, as it requires patients to travel to and pay for the additional cost of a medically unnecessary procedure,” Montgomery said. 

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Ethan DeWitt
Ethan DeWitt

Ethan DeWitt is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s education reporter. Previously, he worked as the New Hampshire State House reporter for the Concord Monitor, covering the state, the Legislature, and the New Hampshire presidential primary. A Westmoreland native, Ethan started his career as the politics and health care reporter at the Keene Sentinel.