Family Planning in NH - Issue Summary

Family Planning in NH

By: LFDA Editor

The New Hampshire Legislature continues to work through a variety of bills regarding family planning in the state, many of which are controversial throughout the political spectrum.

Parental Notification

In 2011 the legislature overrode Gov. John Lynch's veto of HB 329, a bill which prohibits abortions from being performed on minors without 48 hours’ notice to a parent or guardian, with some exceptions. For more information, go to the LFDA’s Parental Notification issue page.

Women’s Right to Know Act

In 2012 the state legislature considered HB 1659, the so-called "Women's Right to Know Act."  The Act requires doctors to inform women of the medical details of abortion and alternatives prior to scheduling an abortion.  The House passed the bill, but HB 1659 was killed in the Senate.  A 2013 revamp of the Act, HB 483, was rejected by the majority of the House in March 2013.

Supporters of the Women's Right to Know Act argue that abortion is a serious medical decision, and doctors should fully inform women about the possible medical and emotional consequences. 

Opponents of the Women's Right to Know Act argue that the Act is aimed at intimidating women and includes misleading information.  For example, HB 1659 was criticized for requiring doctors to mention a possible link between abortion and breast cancer; that link has been disproved.

Planned Parenthood

In 2011 the Executive Council voted to end a two-year, $1.8 million contract with Planned Parenthood for family planning services, because the organization also offers abortions (about 3 percent of its overall services). The federal government then stepped in to offer funding to the organization.

After that New Hampshire Right to Life, a pro-life organization, filed a lawsuit charging that the state Board of Pharmacy should have cancelled Planned Parenthood's license to distribute pharmaceuticals following the cancellation of the state contract.  Right to Life is focused in particular on the pill RU 486, which is used to induce abortion in the first two months of pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood counters that they have been licensed by the state Board of Pharmacy for more than twenty years, and serve more than half of individuals seeking family planning services in New Hampshire.

In January 2014 the Executive Council voted to reinstate the contract with Planned Parenthood.

More than a year later, in August 2015, the five-member, Republican-led Executive Council rejected $639,000 in state funding for Planned Parenthood in response to videos showing organization officials discussing the transfer of tissue from aborted fetuses to medical researchers. The videos became the subject of a national controversy.

The rejected funding for Planned Parenthood was part of $1 million in state contracts with four providers of family planning services, which offer testing for sexually transmitted diseases, cancer screenings, and contraception consults. The Council did approve contracts with the Concord Feminist Health Center, the Joan G. Lovering Health Center, and Weeks Medical Center.

 Gov. Hassan said the funding cuts will mean diminished services available for state residents. She commented, “I find it very, very troubling that anyone would vote against these contracts just because the national political climate is a little difficult.”

Health Insurance

Under New Hampshire law, health insurance plans provided by employers are required to cover contraceptives.

In 2012 the state legislature considered a provision that would allow religious organizations to exclude contraceptive coverage from insurance plans. The provision was added to an unrelated bill governing religious society rules, SB 356.

Supporters of the provision said that forcing a religious entity to fund contraceptives may violate that organization's right to religious freedom, if the religion does not support contraception.  Opponents said the provision was too broad, allowing organizations that don’t necessarily have a religious background to begin refusing contraception coverage.

The exemption was ultimately removed from SB 356.

Criminal Statutes

In 2012 the state legislature passed HB 217, which added the killing of a fetus to the state’s homicide statute (the bill excluded legal medical abortions).  Gov. John Lynch vetoed the bill.

Supporters of HB 217 argued that the state has a duty to protect all citizens, including unborn citizens, from crime.  Opponents of HB 217 feared that by granting fetuses "personhood," the legislation was a back-door way of chipping away at reproductive freedoms.

2015 Legislation

Several legislators are sponsoring 2015 bills related to family planning.

Rep. J.R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton) is the primary sponsor of HB 194, titled "All People Create Equal Act," which states that life begins at conception. The bill was killed in the House in January.

Rep. Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford) is the primary sponsor of HB 202, which repeals the ability of registered nurses to dispense noncontrolled prescription drugs in clinics that have a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services (such as Planned Parenthood). The bill was killed by the House in January.

Rep. Kathleen Souza is the primary sponsor of HB 403, which repeals the law establishing a protest-free buffer zone around reproductive health clinics. The House passed the bill in a 170-159 vote in March, but it was later tabled by the Senate.

Rep. Keith Murphy is the primary sponsor of HB 595, a bill that prevents abortions beyond 21 weeks and 5 days gestation. The bill was tabled in the House.

Rep. Kathleen Souza is the primary sponsor of HB 629, which requires the Department of Health and Human Services to keep an annual statistical report on induced termination of pregnancy.

Rep. Warren Groen is the primary sponsor of HB 677, which prohibits sending any state funds to any health care provider that performs abortions, regardless of whether public funds are utilized for that specific service. The Department of Health and Human Services states this bill would prevent the Department from entering into ANY contract with organizations such as Planned Parenthood. The bill was ultimately voted down by lawmakers in February.

Sen. Andy Sanborn is the primary sponsor of SB 36, a bill to allow pharmacies to dispense oral contraceptives to persons 18 years of age or older without a prescription. The Senate killed the bill in January.

Sen. Regina Birdsell is the primary sponsor of SB 40, which includes fetuses as potential victims under murder statutes. It was passed by the Senate in March, followed by the House in May, but died with the conference committee. HB 560, sponsored by Rep. Leon Rideout, includes fetuses as potential victims under first and second degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and causing or aiding suicide. This bill was passed by the House in March but later died in a conference committee.

Sen. David Pierce is the primary sponsor of SB 42, requiring insurers and employers offering insurance to notify policy holders/employees about the details of contraceptive coverage. The Senate tabled SB 42 in March.

2014 Legislation

  • Rep. Kathleen Souza (R-Manchester) sponsored HB 1501, a 2014 bill to require licensing for outpatient abortion clinics. The House deemed it inexpedient to legislate in March. Souza also sponsored HB 1502, a bill to collect statistics on abortions in New Hampshire, which was sent for interim study.
  • HB 1502 would require the department of health and human services to keep an annual statistical report of each induced termination of pregnancy performed and submit the report to the general court. The report will also be available to the public.
  • Rep. J.R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton) sponsored HB 1504, a 2014 bill "providing that life begins at conception." The House voted against the bill in March.
  • Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) sponsored HB 1503, a 2014 bill that expands criminal statutes so that fetuses can be considered the victims of crimes. The bill excludes legal abortions and mothers can not be charged under the bill. The House approved the bill, with amendment, in March; the amended version increases the legal penalty for the death of an unborn child only when the mother is also killed. The Senate tabled the bill in April.
  • Sen. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) sponsored SB 319, a 2014 bill that would create a "buffer zone" around reproductive clinics that protestors cannot enter. The bill was passed by the Senate on February 19 and passed by the House in May. Gov. Hassan signed it into law on June 10, but the law was put on hold as federal Judge Joseph Laplante waited to hear arguments on its constitutionality following the striking down of a similar law in Massachusetts. New Hampshire's attorney general agreed to not enforce the law in the interim, and both he and the Alliance Defending Freedom, which sued to have the law blocked, were to report any arising developments. The House voted to repeal the law in March 2015, but the bill stalled in the Senate.

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Take Action

If you are interested in family planning issues in NH and want to take action here are some choices:

  • If you are new to contacting your government, please visit our page on How to Take Action.

  • Contact one of the organizations listed in Learn More. These groups represent the pro or con positions of issues.

  • Contact a government official as follows:

1. Contact members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives or the New Hampshire Senate

2. Give your opinion to Governor Maggie Hassan.

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Learn More/Take Action

How do you feel about the bills related to family planning? Whatever your thoughts are, we urge you to make your voice heard. See the "Learn More/Take Action" section on this page for more information.

Issue Status

In August 2015, the Executive Council rejected $639,000 in state funding for Planned Parenthood in response to videos showing organization officials discussing the transfer of tissue from aborted fetuses to medical researchers. Gov. Hassan expressed her disapproval of the Council's vote.

See the "Legislation History" section of this page for details on 2015 bills related to family planning.


August 23, 2015
WMUR: Dozens protest outside of Manchester Planned Parenthood Saturday
Union Leader: Protests target Planned Parenthood
August 16, 2015
Concord Monitor: Tracking abortion in New Hampshire can prove tricky
August 11, 2015
WMUR: Poll for Planned Parenthood shows voters want Ayotte to vote to fund organization
August 5, 2015
Seacoast Online: Executive Council rejects Planned Parenthood funding
August 4, 2015
NHPR: Funding for NH Planned Parenthood on the table
July 30, 2015
NHPR: Shaheen: 'Highly-edited' videos disturbing, but against defunding Planned Parenthood
July 29, 2015
Union Leader: Rally calls for end to state funding for Planned Parenthood
Concord Monitor: In Concord and Washington, an effort to defund Planned Parenthood
July 28, 2015
Concord Monitor: Undercover Planned Parenthood videos reignite funding debate in NH
July 21, 2015
WMUR: State Republican executive committee adopts resolution condemning Planned Parenthood
July 17, 2015

Union Leader: Video sets off abortion firestorm for Planned Parenthood prior to it seeking state funding
June 19, 2015

NH1: Fetal homicide bill bid collapses with NH House-Senate impasse
May 21, 2015

NH1: NH House panel pushes aside breastfeeding mandate bill until 2016
May 15, 2015

NHPR: NH Senate deadlocks on abortion clinic buffer zone repeal
May 7, 2015

Seacoast Online: NH Senate delays vote on abortion clinic buffer zone law
May 6, 2015

Concord Monitor: Senate and House will work out details of fetal homicide bill before sending to Hassan
May 3, 2015

Foster's Daily Democrat: Fetal homicide, synthetic drugs on NH House agenda
April 1, 2015

NH1: Sharp debate over whether to repeal abortion buffer zone law
Concord Monitor: NH health care officials say abortion buffer zone law, though barely enforced, has led to fewer, more civil protests
March 31, 2015
NHPR: Abortion facility buffer zone repeal law heads to Senate
March 12, 2015
NHPR: House repeals buffer zone law for abortion clinics
March 11, 2015
NHPR: Fetal homicide one step closer to becoming a NH law
March 7, 2015
NH1: NH Senate stalls on making business owners inform about contraceptive coverage
February 18, 2015
WMUR: Attempt to defund Planned Parenthood fails
January 23, 2015
Concord Monitor: On Roe v. Wade anniversary, a debate in NH over proposed life-at-conception law
January 8, 2015
Foster's Daily Democrat: Abortion clinics could lose state funding
January 6, 2015
Seacoast Online: NH bill supports nursing mothers in the workplace
December 12, 2014
Union Leader: Funding to Planned Parenthood jumps three-fold in two years
November 24, 2014
Union Leader: Right to Life sues over NH clinic records 
November 7, 2014
NH1: New Hampshire gets 'A' for reducing preterm births
September 22, 2014
NHPR: Brown disagrees with GOP 'personhood' plank
August 31, 2014
Union Leader: NH's teen pregnancy still lowest nationwide
July 24, 2014
Foster's Daily Democrat: Judge delays abortion clinic buffer zone argument
July 23, 2014
Concord Monitor: State argues abortion clinic buffer zone is legal
July 15, 2014

NHPR: Hobby Lobby ruling is key to NH Dems midterm election strategy
July 9, 2014
Concord Monitor: State ignoring abortion clinic buffer zone for now
July 8, 2014
NHPR: Christian legal group sues to halt NH's buffer zone law
June 30, 2014
NHPR: Some companies can refuse to cover contraception, Supreme Court says
June 26, 2014
WMUR: After Supreme Court decision, NH buffer zone law questioned
June 11, 2014
Union Leader: Abortion clinic buffer zone signed into law
June 8, 2014
Seacoast Online: Governor to sign buffer zone bill Tuesday
May 15, 2014
WMUR: House approves 25-foot abortion buffer zone
April 24, 2014
Union Leader: Fetal homicide bill stopped in the Senate
April 22, 2014
NHPR: Inside the buffer zone: a look at the NH bill to keep abortion protesters back 
March 20, 2014
WMUR: House approves enhanced penalties in fetus death
March 19, 2014
Concord Monitor: NH House to consider several abortion-related bills
March 7, 2014
Concord Monitor: Senate passes bill on parental rights of rapists
March 2, 2014

NHPR: FDA to increase access to generic morning-after pills
February 20, 2014
Union Leader: 'Life begins at conception' bill sparks emotional, philosophical debate at NH State House 
February 19, 2014
Seacoast Online: NH Senate passes 25-foot abortion buffer zone
February 5, 2014
Nashua Telegraph: NH House committee debates protections for unborn children
February 4, 2014
WMUR: NH considers ending parental rights for rapists
January 29, 2014
Eagle Tribune: NH Executive Council OKs Planned Parenthood pact
January 17, 2014
Concord Monitor: NH Supreme Court hears anti-abortion group's appeal
December 16, 2013
Union Leader: Freshman state Rep. Leon Rideout to sponsor fetal homicide bill
October 29, 2013
Union Leader: Right to Life goes to court over abortion pill
September 28, 2013
Union Leader: Some group health plans on state health exchange will cover 'elective' abortions; individual plans will cover only if "medically necessary" 
September 23, 2013
Seacoast Online: Affordable Care Act conference focuses on NH women
September 21, 2013
Union Leader: Pro-life leader says abortion rights don't empower women
September 18, 2013
Nashua Telegraph: Hospitals’ removal from health insurance network draws senators’ ire when it comes to female and family care 
August 16, 2013
Concord Monitor: Bi-State Primary Care, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England receive navigator grants
Union Leader: Planned Parenthood to play role in NH's insurance exchange
July 25, 2013

NHPR: Plan B to hit shelves, protected from generics
June 16, 2013
Seacoast Online: Plan B now available over the counter
May 23, 2013
Seacoast Online: Teen pregnancies drop nationally; N.H. rate among lowest 
May 19, 2013
Union Leader: Official says NH abortion sites need state scrutiny
May 5, 2013
Eagle Tribune: Morning-after pill ruling draws praise, criticism
March 13, 2013
Union Leader: NH House rejects 24-hour 'informed consent' waiting period before abortions
February 19, 2013
Union Leader: House judiciary panel recommends abortion waiting period bill be killed
February 13, 2013
Union Leader: Abortion issue to be debated at House hearings
January 22, 2013
Foster's Daily Democrat: Roe v. Wade anniversary a reminder of abortion clinic strife
August 8, 2012
Union Group claims distribution of contraceptives by Planned Parenthood violates state law
August 1, 2012 NH women celebrate preventive care without copays
July 31, 2012
Union Leader: New insurance requirements on women's health take effect
June 28, 2012
NHPR: How North Country legislators voted on partial-birth abortion veto
June 27, 2012
Seacoast Online: NH Legislature overrides veto on abortion bill
June 27, 2012
Nashua Telegraph: Legislature bans late-term abortions, approves 'early offer' medical malpractice program
June 15, 2012
Concord Monitor: Lynch vetoes abortion bill