The Bulletin Board

Senate committee rejects attempts to undo abortion restrictions

By: - May 20, 2021 12:19 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)

This story was updated May 20, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. with new information from U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan.

In party line votes, the Senate Finance Committee rejected attempts to undo two House restrictions on abortion Wednesday that House Republicans have said are nonnegotiable. 

If those budget line items make it through the full Senate and the budget is signed by Gov. Chris Sununu, Republicans will have prevailed on an abortion restriction they’ve pursued for years: requiring abortion providers to physically and financially separate their routine family care like birth control and cancer screenings from abortion services, which make up just 7 percent of their work.

Providers say the requirement would force them to limit or eliminate reproductive health care for 12,000 people in the state. They are already required to financially separate the two services to ensure state dollars are not used for abortion services. Requiring a separate space and separate staff for abortion services is not financially sustainable, they say.

There was little discussion before the vote, but a comment from Senate President Chuck Morse, a Salem Republican, suggested the vote could be revisited. Morse said he was expecting a presentation on the issue Thursday but was not specific.

The second vote rejected a state funding request from Sens. Lou D’Allesandro, a Manchester Democrat, and Cindy Rosenwald, a Nashua Democrat.

The state’s abortion providers lost federal money under the Trump administration because of new funding restrictions. President Joe Biden has said he will reverse those restrictions, but it’s not clear when those federal dollars will return. Rosenwald and D’Alessandro asked the committee to include $1.6 million in the budget to tide the clinics over until the federal money arrives.

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan co-signed a letter to the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary Wednesday asking that the rule reversal be finalized immediately.

Before the vote, D’Allesandro reminded committee members of the public hearing testimony from men and women who said they rely on Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the state’s two other abortion providers for all reproductive health care. 

“I think if you look at the testimony that we received at that public hearing (on the House’s restrictions) would certainly validate the need for this,” D’Allesandro said. 

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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.