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New Hampshire Abortion Bill Vetoed By Governor, Restored By Legislators

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New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch

The Tea Party-controlled New Hampshire House of Representatives overrode the governor's veto of a partial birth abortion ban that opponents deemed as "dangerous" in its potential to jeopardize the health of women in rural areas.

The state House and Senate voted on Wednesday to override Democratic Gov. John Lynch's veto of a bill that would outlaw partial birth abortion in all but emergency situations and implement new procedures during emergencies. The bill will require that no partial birth abortion to save the life of the mother can be granted until two doctors from two different hospitals certify that the procedure is necessary. Opponents, including Lynch, said that the requirement could harm New Hampshire women, particularly in rural areas.

"It put a woman in a rural area in a position where they need to find a second doctor to examine them," Rep. Candace Bouchard (D-Concord) said. "This bill is dangerous. This bill does not use actual medical science. Imagine physicians telling those family members that state law prohibits them from providing life-saving medical care to a loved one. We need to trust our medical community."

In his veto message to legislators, Lynch said the bill was unnecessary due to an existing federal ban on partial birth abortions, along with concerns about the requirement of two doctors' examinations in the case of emergencies. Supporters of the bill said that the state needed to pass its own ban, due to distrust over the federal government's enforcement of its ban.

New Hampshire's Legislature is one of the most conservative in the country, with Tea Party members in control of the House and the Senate. Today's veto override session saw several of Lynch's vetoes overturned, including ones on voter identification legislation and provisions as to who can vote in New Hampshire. Lawmakers failed to overturn a Lynch veto of a bill regulating voting behavior for New Hampshire delegates to a hypothetical U.S. constitutional convention.

Supporters of the state's partial birth abortion ban took to the floor today to say that the bill is needed to prohibit the process. One supporter told colleagues that research she conducted shows that "thousands" of partial birth abortions are performed annually across the country on women and fetuses who are healthy. She cited statistics from 1997 that between 3,000 and 5,000 partial birth abortions were performed that year in the United States.

"The people of New Hampshire don't want to be recognized as supporting something as horrible as this," Rep. Peter Silva (R-Nashua) said.

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