protest

Protesters are seen Wednesday morning on the State House steps in Concord to oppose including abortion language in the budget bill. (PAULA TRACY PHOTO)

CONCORD — A dozen “Handmaids” protested at the New Hampshire State House on Wednesday to join with other people opposed to the addition of anti-abortion language in the proposed biennial budget.

A coalition of opponents to the language, which would make late-stage abortion illegal even in the case of rape, is now in the House- and Senate-approved budget, and the group called on Gov. Chris Sununu to veto the budget and protect a woman’s right to choose.

While Sununu has maintained he is pro-choice, he said he supports the late-stage ban and has indicated he will support the legislation.

Louise Spencer of the Concord-based Kent Street Coalition denounced Sununu’s position, saying that to sign the bill would make him the first governor in the history of the state to pass an abortion ban.

“For decades, New Hampshire has proudly supported reproductive freedom and the right to an abortion, on both sides of the aisle. Gov. Chris Sununu needs to decide if he wants to continue the Granite State’s legacy of protecting an individual’s privacy and freedom in their own medical decision making,” Spencer said.

A dozen men and women wearing red robes and white hats filed in twos to the press conference on the State House steps to join protesters holding signs opposing the budget deal.

The garb was in connection with a popular TV series, "The Handmaid’s Tale," which according to Wikipedia is an American dystopian tragedy based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood that subjects fertile women called “Handmaids” to child-bearing slavery.

State Sen. Rebecca Perkins Kwoka (D-Portsmouth), now in a late stage of her own pregnancy, spoke about the sacrifices she makes every day carrying her pregnancy and asked what other decisions the legislators care to make in her life and that of her wife.

Also speaking at the press conference in opposition to the budget deal were the Rev. Allison Palm, a minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua; Dr. Nick Perencevich, a retired surgeon; and Zandra Rice Hawkins, director of Granite State Progress.

The bill would make it a felony-level offense for doctors to perform late-stage abortions, punishable for up to seven years in prison.

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