With Jan. 22 marking the 49th and possibly final anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade, there has never been a more critical time for us to fight to protect the right to abortion here in New Hampshire.
While we know that nearly 70% of Granite Staters support abortion rights, the same cannot be said about the makeup of our state legislature. Even after a 24-week abortion ban and ultrasound mandate went into effect here on Jan. 1, we are still facing unprecedented attacks on our rights. This legislative session alone, there are bills that would give fathers the right to prevent a pregnant person from getting an abortion, a 6-week abortion ban, and a “right of conscience” bill that could even prevent people from getting birth control. It’s clear, the time has come to prepare for a Post-Roe America.
On Dec. 1, I went down to D.C. for the Dobbs vs. Jackson hearing, a Supreme Court case that could ban abortion after just 15 weeks. I stood in solidarity with my fellow abortion fund leaders in the South who will be the most impacted by these increased restrictions. The fact is, many of them are already living in a post-Roe reality that’s only going to get worse. We won’t stand by as we watch our state go down that same path.
We won’t stand by and watch a 24-week ban turn into a 15-week ban, or a 6-week ban, while our bodily autonomy continues to get chipped away at over time. The reality of the situation is that barriers to abortion, such as more expensive procedures, travel expenses, hotel rooms, childcare, and missing work – will increase as people have no other option than to seek care out of state. While the Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire is here to help, and many reproductive rights advocates are educating themselves on how to do more to decrease barriers to care, we can’t meet that increased need on our own.
Luckily, we have an opportunity in New Hampshire right now to secure the critical protections granted to us via Roe v. Wade, no matter what happens at the federal level. There is a bill making its way through the state legislature called the Access to Abortion-care Act which, if passed, would uphold the legal right to abortion here in our state. When (not if) Roe v. Wade falls, panic will ensue across the country. The values of Granite Staters are clear – the majority of people in our state believe in bodily autonomy and medical privacy. This legislation is the only chance we have at providing clarity and preventing panic and uncertainty among Granite Staters when Roe falls.
Despite how scary it all feels, many of us dream of a future beyond Roe. A future where people receive compassionate healthcare that is affordable, accessible, and easy. Where people can get safe, effective medication abortion pills sent directly to their door. Where our loved ones are able to receive the reproductive health care they need when they need it, and can decide if, when, and how to grow their families without barriers, fear, or political interference from others.
The rights given to us through the decision made in Roe v. Wade are the floor, not the ceiling, for abortion rights in this country. We must ensure the right to abortion remains protected here in New Hampshire so that we can begin the true work of ensuring equal access and true reproductive and maternal justice for all in our state.
Josie Pinto is executive director of the Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire and health justice organizer with Granite State Progress.
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Commentary: NH must act now on 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade