Commentary: Sununu’s abortion ban ignores real-life complexities

July 26, 2021 6:10 am
A pregnant woman holds an ultrasound printout

Pregnant Granite Staters who begin the new year with life-changing and heartbreaking news that their pregnancy is no longer viable will no longer have access to care to terminate that pregnancy in our state. (Getty Images)

This month, hundreds of Granite Staters will hold their breath while waiting for the positive blue mark to learn that they are pregnant. For many, this will be incredibly joyous news. Over the next few months, they may experience morning sickness, the relief of cooler weather in the fall, and the joy of telling family and friends. They’ll decide on nursery themes and baby names. By the holidays, these Granite Staters – your friends, family, neighbors – will be six months pregnant, visibly showing, and perhaps taking holiday-themed baby bump photos in anticipation of their spring arrivals.

As we ring in 2022, these women will be 24 weeks pregnant.

At and after 24 weeks of pregnancy, most will learn through continued routine tests that everything is proceeding as planned and, come April, they will welcome the newest Granite Staters into the world.

But for the few who learn there are problems with their pregnancy, that they will not make it to term or will not deliver a healthy child, they will also learn they no longer have the ability to do what’s best for themselves and their families. That’s because on Jan. 1, 2022, New Hampshire politicians are taking away their reproductive freedom.

On Jan. 1, 2022, Gov. Chris Sununu’s abortion ban takes effect.

Because Gov. Sununu and legislative leadership put politics before people, pregnant Granite Staters who begin the new year with life-changing and heartbreaking news that their pregnancy is no longer viable will no longer have access to care to terminate that pregnancy in our state. If they can get time off work and extra child care, they will have to travel out of state to get the care they need. Or, they will be forced to continue carrying a child that cannot survive to term – forced to face the excitement of strangers over their pregnant belly in grocery stores, on the streets, at social gatherings with the knowledge that for them, the situation is far more complex.

No one plans for these complicated medical decisions later in pregnancy. There is no playbook, or even one right answer, on how to grieve these terrible diagnoses. Like most expectant parents, I spent my recent pregnancy planning meals and child care for my son; I didn’t plan for the possibility of a fatal diagnosis later in pregnancy. Each pregnancy, and each pregnancy loss, is unique. These situations are not partisan. It could happen to someone you know and love, or it could happen to your family.

These women and these families need compassion, support, options, and respect. Not political interference.

The bottom line is that this abortion ban is shameful and cruel, and it will hurt real women and real families. It is an attempt to control and shame women, and the authors of it are politicians – clearly not doctors – who think their judgment is better than actual medical professionals who vehemently opposed this ban.

Abortion bans are deeply unpopular in all states, but especially here in New Hampshire. That’s because we have a long bipartisan tradition of upholding privacy and personal freedoms, especially when it comes to private medical decisions. The majority of Granite Staters believe that these decisions should be made between a patient, their family, and their doctor.

By signing this cruel abortion ban into law and stripping away our reproductive freedoms, Gov. Sununu (who continues to call himself “pro-choice”) became the first New Hampshire governor in modern history to ban abortion in the Granite State. The actions of Gov. Sununu and lawmakers who voted for this abortion ban will cause irreparable harm to New Hampshire families in complicated situations. It is on all of us to remember who is responsible and to hold those politicians accountable.

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Kayla Montgomery
Kayla Montgomery

Kayla Montgomery is vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.