The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted down legislation calling for a 24-hour waiting period for abortions, less than a year after passing similar legislation.
Lawmakers in the Democratic-controlled chamber voted 229-121 on Wednesday against the proposal, the Associated Press reported. Last May, when the chamber was controlled by a tea party-affiliated Republican majority, the measure passed after it was tacked on to a bill relating to research and development tax credits. The state Senate killed the abortion waiting period bill last year.
The legislation required that women receive an outline of the procedure, a list of "medically-accurate" complications and alternatives to abortion. This would include state publications on abortion complications and alternatives, along with material noting that the child's father is financially liable. Women would have been required to sign a document confirming receipt of the information.
Doctors would have been required to document and fill out a form if an emergency abortion did not allow for the waiting period and counseling session.
The proposal, which was described as "pro-choice" by supporters, required women to receive medical counseling prior to an abortion and then wait a minimum of 24 hours before receiving the procedure. According to a Judiciary Committee report circulated to lawmakers, state Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack) wrote that the bill would provide women with more options. She compared the procedure with the advice doctors give to patients seeking elective surgery.
"This is a pro-educational/pro-choice bill. Education is key to make an informed decision," Peterson wrote. "Elective surgery is not performed within a 24-hour notice and there is no reason why an abortion cannot have a 24-hour waiting period. This bill would allow plenty of time to study all options available, before making a life changing decision."
But state Rep. Sylvia Gale (D-Nashua) used the committee report to urge lawmakers to vote no on the bill, saying that it would put new restrictions on a woman's right to choose. She wrote that women already give thought to the procedure before going to a doctor.
"This requirement would impose ideologically driven obstacles to women seeking this medical service, and is both impractical and burdensome and could lead to increased health risks for some patients," Gale wrote.
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