RELEASE: Senator Lasky and Senator Hennessey Caution that Senate Republican Vote Opens Door to Fetal Personhood

CONCORD – Senator Martha Hennessey (D-Hanover) and Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua), members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following comments after SB 66 passed with an amendment along party lines:

“Senate Bill 66 puts New Hampshire on the dangerous path to recognizing fetal personhood in our laws,” said Senator Hennessey.“New Hampshire statute already provides for enhanced, felony penalties when a crime committed against a woman tragically results in a miscarriage or stillbirth. Contrary to its stated intent, SB 66 is a vehicle to subtly undermine the protections established by Roe v. Wade under the guise of strengthening already existing criminal statute.”

“Recognizing a fetus as a separate person who can be an independent victim of a crime is part of a national, Republican effort to erode women’s reproductive rights. SB 66 pits fetal rights against the rights of a pregnant woman, creating a legal basis for depriving pregnant women of their status as full persons under the law.”

Senate Republicans offered two amendments on SB 66 to define viability at eight weeks, which was defeated, and twenty weeks, which passed.

“Senate Republicans confirmed that medical experts were not consulted at any point during the drafting of their amendments and the underlying bill. I am concerned that my colleagues would take such an arbitrary approach to the crafting of laws that have potentially harmful and far-reaching ramifications for pregnant women,” added Senator Lasky.

“While proponents of SB 66 claim that the bill exempts a pregnant woman from criminal liability, we know that in states with similar laws, pregnant women are still more likely to be punished for behaviors that are not criminalized for others. A recent study published in the Journal of Health Politics found 413 cases in which laws intended to protect fetuses have been used to arrest, prosecute, and detain women or force them to submit to medical intervention.”

“If our laws are to be just and sensible they must be founded on facts and logic, not partisan politics,” said Senator Lasky. “Pregnant women deserve the full protection of our laws and I think it is regrettable that Senate Republicans voted to advance an ideological agenda rather than enact sound criminal justice policy.”

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