Supposedly 'pro-choice' New Hampshire Gov. Sununu campaigns with anti-abortion candidates

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Chris Sununu has spent the last few months supporting Republicans who want to further undermine abortion rights across the country.

Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who is running for re-election, has recently toured New England to endorse or support other GOP gubernatorial candidates who vocally oppose abortion rights. This has earned Sununu -- who has repeatedly claimed he is 'pro-choice' -- criticism from pro-abortion advocates.

In June, Sununu campaigned in Connecticut with Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski. Stefanowski supports policies, such as notifying the parents of youth considering abortion access, that abortion advocates say would amount to restriction policies -- and anti-abortion advocates cheer.

In July, Sununu traveled to Maine to support the state's former Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who is running for a third term. Under LePage's helm previously, the state defunded Planned Parenthood. He has stated his opposition to all abortions and attended several anti-choice rallies.

This month, Sununu also endorsed and campaigned for another anti-abortion gubernatorial candidate, Chris Doughty, in Massachusetts.

Sununu previously proclaimed his support for abortion rights during both his 2016 and 2018 campaigns. "I'm pro-choice. I support Roe v. Wade," Sununu told WMUR in 2018 when criticized for supporting Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming, "as a governor, I don't judge any single judge on a single-issue litmus test."

Despite calling himself pro-choice, Sununu signed New Hampshire's first modern-age abortion ban into law in 2021, ignoring the majority of public opinion and opposing nearly 200 medical professionals, according to the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. The organization called the ban, included in a state budget law, "the most regressive anti-reproductive health care budget in New Hampshire history." Under the ban, it is illegal to obtain abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

"Governor Sununu is about as far from a pro-choice governor as you can get," Monica Venzke, spokesperson for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, told The American Independent Foundation.

In May 2022, when a draft opinion of the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson was leaked, Sununu's office released a statement promising residents to protect and codify abortion rights.

"As a pro-choice governor, I am committed to upholding Roe v. Wade, which is why I am proud of the bipartisan bill headed to my desk this year that expands access," Sununu said in a statement. "So long as I am governor, these health care services for women will remain safe and legal.” 

A few days later, however, when asked about his views on abortion restriction in a podcast interview, Sununu defended New Hampshire's 24-week abortion ban and proudly proclaimed he was the "first governor in 40 years to sign" any abortion ban. 

“I’ve done more on the pro-life issue, if you will, than anyone,” he told Greg Corombos, co-host of the national podcast "Three Martini Lunch."

Multiple changes to the ban were made later that month. Originally, the only exception allowed by the ban was in instances of danger to the mother's life -- but another was added for cases in which the fetus has been diagnosed with "abnormalities incompatible with life." Separately, a provision mandating patients undergo an ultrasound was also relaxed in May, revised to only require it if doctors suspect the fetus to be more than 24 weeks of age.

Following the Supreme Court's official decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June, Sununu's office released another statement affirming his previous claims. “Regardless of this Supreme Court decision, access to these services will continue to remain safe, accessible, and legal in New Hampshire,” Sununu said.

But the following week, Sununu rejected the call from House Democrats for a special session to codify and protect abortion rights in New Hampshire's law.

"It would probably signal that we need to change something, that we need to take some sort of drastic action, but we don't," Sununu told WMUR. "We're really in a good position in New Hampshire."

Pro-abortion advocates point to Sununu's conflicting statements and actions as governor in their criticisms.

"From signing New Hampshire's first modern abortion ban ... and touting that ban on a national conservative podcast, to campaigning with anti-choice extremists, there is no world in which Sununu is pro-choice," Venzke told the American Independent Foundation. "He has spent the entirety of his career cowering to the extremists of his party and attacking our right to choose, and he has no intention of stopping."

Sununu has also been just as inconsistent when it comes to funding Planned Parenthood.

In 2015, Sununu cast the deciding vote in New Hampshire’s Executive Council to block more than $600,000 in funding for Planned Parenthood, affecting the healthcare access of approximately 12,000 New Hampshire citizens.

“They proved themselves to be bullies and I don’t do business with bullies,” Sununu told Seacoast Online in 2016, pledging he would not change his position -- yet, Sununu voted to restore funding to the organization later that year.

Last month, Sununu’s handpicked Executive Council voted to defund Planned Parenthood and several other family planning providers across the state for the fourth time

"This is Sununu’s handpicked Executive Council, and he is responsible for this outcome today," Venzke said in a statement at the time. "These Republican Councilors continue to use his abhorrent abortion ban as an excuse to defund cancer screenings and contraception. This decision comes as no surprise, but is devastating all the same."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.