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Even after the Supreme Court's ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, abortion remains legal in N.H.

Roe v Wade Protest Sign
Dan Tuohy
/
NHPR
Crowds rallied in Portsmouth after a draft of the Supreme Court's ruling on abortion rights first leaked in May.

This post was updated on June 24, 2022, after the court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving the question of abortion access to the states. This decision has no immediate effect on abortion access in New Hampshire, though it could open the door for future changes.

“Regardless of this Supreme Court decision, access to these services will continue to remain safe, accessible, and legal in New Hampshire,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement issued after the ruling. (More on the immediate response from Sununu and other politicians here.)

Here’s what you need to know about New Hampshire’s reproductive rights laws in light of this decision.


What kind of abortions are legal in New Hampshire?

Abortions up to 24 weeks are legal in New Hampshire. There are exceptions to that restriction if the life or health of the patient seeking the abortion is at risk, or if a fatal fetal anomaly has been detected.

While the Supreme Court’s conservative majority said Friday the Roe decision was wrong in recognizing a constitutional right to an abortion, this ruling has not changed the current abortion landscape in New Hampshire. It does, however, open the door for state lawmakers to pass more restrictive laws in the future. The Legislature is not in session at the moment, so any new restrictions would likely not surface for at least several months.


Are there any “trigger laws” in New Hampshire will kick into gear and limit abortion further now that Roe has been overturned ? 

No. Abortion remains legal in New Hampshire.

At least 13 states have so-called trigger laws, which were passed to ban all, or nearly all, abortions as soon as the court allowed it. (NPR has more on that here.) New Hampshire does not have any such laws.


Are there any laws in New Hampshire that protect abortion as a right?

No.

Several New England states — including Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut — affirm the right to an abortion before a fetus is viable, at around 24 weeks. Rhode Island and Vermont also protect the right to an abortion in state law. In New Hampshire, Democrats at the State House have tried but failed to enact similar protections.

This fall, voters in Vermont will weigh in on a proposed amendment enshrining the right to an abortion in their state constitution. If that measure passes, it would be the first in the country. (More context on that, from Vermont Public.)


How have reproductive rights groups been preparing for the potential fall of Roe in New Hampshire? 

The news of the Supreme Court's decision has added urgency to the work of reproductive rights groups and health centers, but it hasn’t come as a surprise. Those organizations have long expected and prepared for the possibility of more widespread abortion restrictions.

The court's ruling effectively leaves the future of abortion policy in the hands of state policymakers. With that in mind, some groups are continuing to mobilize voters and legislators to add protections to the law in New Hampshire. Others are preparing for an increased demand for abortions in New Hampshire, if people in states with more restrictive laws begin traveling here for the service.

The Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire, which provides financial support to Granite Staters seeking abortions, has been working with similar organizations across the country to plan for a variety of outcomes.

“In addition to thinking about booking hotel rooms, we might also get to a place where we're asking people to open up their homes to people for the night and provide them a safe space,” said Josie Pinto, the fund's executive director.

As of earlier this spring, representatives for Planned Parenthood said they were already seeing some patients traveling to northern New England from Texas for abortions. Texas law bans all abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, at around six weeks.


What barriers exist in New Hampshire for people seeking abortions?

Abortion services are covered under many major insurance plans, though coverage can vary.

People who are uninsured seeking abortions face additional financial burden.

The Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire offers financial assistance for abortion services and can also assist with transportation to an appointment. They can be reached via text or phone at 603-395-9078.

Josie Pinto, the fund’s executive director, said the starting cost of an abortion is often $500 — but that can escalate into thousands of dollars depending on gestation period, health complications and travel costs.

It can be less expensive for patients to pursue abortion medication in the mail, via telehealth, an option now available to more patients in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire’s Medicaid program doesn’t cover abortion services, except in cases involving rape or incest, or if the health of the person seeking an abortion is in danger.

The Hyde Amendment prohibits states from using federal funds through Medicaid to cover abortion except in the cases mentioned above. It does allow them to use state funds for the process. In the New England area, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont allow state funds to be used to cover medically necessary abortions. Most did so due to a court order, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Dalia Vidunas, executive director at Equality Health Center in Concord, said legal and insurance hurdles aren't the only potential limitations.

“Transportation and child care are some of the biggest barriers,” she said. “Most women that get abortions are already moms.”

Alejandra Soto, Latino media and communications director for Planned Parenthood, says abortion access can also be a challenge for people who lack paid time off from work, who live in a rural area or who are undocumented.

“These types of laws end up impacting mostly immigrants, low-income people, people living in rural areas or isolated areas,” she said.


What resources are available for people seeking an abortion?


The following clinics offer abortion services: 

  • Equality Health Center, in Concord  
  • Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, in Manchester and Keene 
  • Joan G. Lovering Health Center, in Greenland 

Other resources: 

  • The Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire 
  • Planned Parenthood hotline (English and Spanish): 1-800-230-PLAN 
  • Reprocare, reproductive health federal hotlines (available in Spanish): 833-226-7821
Maria Aguirre is a bilingual journalist that currently lives and works remotely from her home in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She currently writes and produces ¿Qué Hay de Nuevo, New Hampshire? Follow her on Twitter at @mariasaguirret