New Hampshire Republicans launch new scheme to shut down women's health care


New Hampshire abortion foes are following a well-worn script to attack health care providers.

Even in states where abortion receives broad public support, conservative legislators aren't stopping their effort to decrease access. 

In New Hampshire, where a Pew analysis shows 66% of voters support the right to an abortion in all or most cases, Republicans in the state House have introduced an amendment to the state budget that would require organizations that offer both abortion and other reproductive health services to physically separate into multiple facilities or lose state family planning funds.    

Republicans say the reason for this is to ensure no state money goes toward abortion funding, which is why this bill is making its way through the House Finance Committee, rather than anything related to health and human services. However, the state already has a "longstanding policy" from previous state budgets that bars state and federal funds from being used for abortions. 

According to the bill's sponsor, that isn't enough, because "money is fungible" and organizations that provide both abortion and family planning services could mix grant spending. It isn't clear, though, how making organizations physically separate their buildings into one freestanding abortion clinic and one comprehensive family planning clinic would stop a comingling of grant money. 

Reproductive health care providers would be required, essentially, to build entirely new facilities. 

Legislators in New Hampshire who back abortion rights point out that the splitting of clinics would be financially difficult

"These health centers are not blessed with a large amount of money; they have had a lot of difficulty dealing with the loss of federal funding in the past few years," said Rep. Katherine Rogers, a Democratic state House member. 

Under Trump, organizations that provided abortion counseling or abortion services were ineligible to receive Title X money, which provides family planning funds for low-income people. Planned Parenthood, which operates over 600 health centers in the United States, including five in New Hampshire, withdrew from the program rather than stop providing abortions. 

But now, President Joe Biden has indicated that he will undo the Trump administration's Title X restrictions. With the federal landscape tilting back toward affirming abortion rights, it isn't surprising to see state-level restrictions appear. New Hampshire, which has fewer abortion restrictions than many other states, is seeing an attack on abortion availability follows a well-worn script. 

Essentially, the state's anti-abortion legislators are proposing a targeted regulation of abortion providers, commonly known as a TRAP law. TRAP laws are medical regulations that only apply to abortion clinics or abortion providers, regulations that are unnecessary and designed to make abortions harder to get. 

Demanding Planned Parenthood split itself in two is a favorite anti-abortion faux-compromise. In 2017, Ivanka Trump bragged that she told Planned Parenthood's then-president, Cecile Richards, that the organization itself — not just the actual health centers it runs  — should split into one organization that provides abortions and another for other reproductive health services. 

However, such a split is antithetical to the goals of Planned Parenthood, which is to provide comprehensive and affordable reproductive health care, which by necessity includes abortion, Richards said. The organization rejected the plan. 

Abortion rights advocates in New Hampshire may have an advantage, as the state's Republican governor, Chris Sununu, claims to be "pro-choice." Sununu, however, has approved pandemic funding for anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, and he supported the nomination of conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, prompting some backlash. (He opted not to publicly support the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.) 

Planned Parenthood of New Hampshire's Kayla Montgomery said the organization hopes he will weigh in and that they can work together to "have a positive reproductive health landscape in New Hampshire."

Even if this particular proposal falters in New Hampshire, anti-abortion legislators in that state have a whole host of other restrictions they're proposing, including criminalizing all abortions. It's an unending battle.