By Lily Bohlke, New Hampshire News Connection

CONCORD — Lawmakers in Congress are reintroducing the Women's Health Protection Act, which would protect against abortion bans and other restrictions that are medically unnecessary.

The New Hampshire General Court last week passed a budget that includes a ban on abortions after 24 weeks.

Kayla Montgomery, vice president for public affairs with the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, noted there are no exceptions for rape, incest or cases of fatal fetal diagnosis, only in cases of extreme risk to the mother's life or a major bodily function.

"This is not the New Hampshire way," said Montgomery. "We have spent decades upon decades of being bipartisan when it comes to reproductive health and privacy, particularly when it comes to personal medical decisions."

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, more than 65 percent of New Hampshire residents believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in the past has said he's pro-choice, but he also said he won't veto the budget over the amendment.

Montgomery added that the criminalization of abortion providers in the amendment will have what she called a chilling effect.

"We're saying to doctors in New Hampshire," said Montgomery, "that they may face seven and a half years in prison for simply getting patients the care that they need."

Black, Brown and Indigenous women are more likely to face health risks or even death during pregnancy and childbirth.

Danielle Hurd-Wilson, interim deputy director of field and programs at Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, noted it's largely because of racial disparities in the medical system.

"Young people — and Black, Indigenous people of color — should be able to get abortion care free from unnecessary restrictions," said Hurd-Wilson, "such as mandatory ultrasounds, waiting periods and others that shame, stigmatize and deny us timely, confidential abortion care."

The reintroduction of the Women's Health Protection Act comes as the Supreme Court plans to hear a case next year about a Mississippi state law that bans abortion after 15 weeks, a time period in which women might not know they're pregnant. It's a case that is seen by many as another challenge to the standards set in 1973 in the Roe vs. Wade ruling.

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