The Bulletin Board

House Republicans block Democrats’ attempts to take up legislation protecting abortion rights

By: - May 4, 2022 3:51 pm
NH lawmaker at the State House addressing abortion bills

Rep. Steven Smith, a Charlestown Republican, faulted Democrats Wednesday for attempting to bring back tabled abortion bills before the House had considered pending legislation, saying he was taught to “eat your dinner before you have dessert.” (Screenshot)

House Democrats’ renewed efforts to pass bills protecting rights to an abortion failed Wednesday when a majority of House members blocked consideration of the legislation.

Rep. Steven Smith, a Charlestown Republican, faulted Democrats for bringing forth the bills, two of which had been previously tabled, while the House was still considering pending legislation. 

“When I was growing up, I was taught, do your homework before you go out to play,” Smith said. “Eat your dinner before you have dessert.” He told Democrats to “stop adding extra work while we’re still in the middle of doing our required work.”

Democrats said Monday’s leak of a U.S. Supreme Court draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade created an urgency to act now.

Rep. Debra Altschiller, a Stratham Democrat, tried to untable a constitutional amendment that would have codified a right to abortion in the state constitution. Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday he’d support legislation doing so “in a second” if it reached his desk.

Altschiller said: “There is no caveat in Article 1 that says all men are born equally and independent, except when pregnant. And yet that loss of freedom and independence is exactly what happens resulting in reproductive servitude.”

The House voted no, 157-174.

Rep. Lucy Weber, a Walpole Democrat, attempted to untable House Bill 1674, which would restrict the state from setting new restrictions on abortion rights. That failed by a similar margin. 

Democrats will try again with Senate Bill 399, another effort to put abortion rights protections in law. If the House does not get to that bill Wednesday, it will take it up Thursday.

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Email: [email protected]