New Hampshire House Bill 217 Updates

New Hampshire House Bill 217 Veto Victory

New Hampshire Residents:

Thank you for helping us defeat House Bill 217!

 

Advocacy Update Details

A Special Thank You Message from
RESOLVE New England’s Executive Director, Erin Lasker

June 26, 2012 – On behalf of RESOLVE New England, I want to thank all of our many volunteers, members and professional colleagues for raising your voices in New Hampshire. We thank you for your emails, your phone calls, your tweets and your Facebook shares over the past two months; clearly, today’s developments in the New Hampshire House prove that grassroots advocacy works – and we couldn’t have done it without you. We have each and every one of you to thank for the defeat of House Bill 217.

We are deeply grateful for everyone who took the time to spread the word and make a difference in New Hampshire. I would also like to recognize the efforts of Catherine Tucker, who worked tirelessly to keep an open dialogue with New Hampshire legislators on the legal implications of how House Bill 217 could irreparably impact the infertility community of New Hampshire. We also wish to thank the efforts of Dr. Judy Stern, Director of Human Embryology and Andrology Laboratory at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. RESOLVE New England also thanks RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies for their vocal opposition to House Bill 217 and their continued support of our efforts in New Hampshire.

We thank every person who helped spread the message in New Hampshire that people with infertility matter. Our message was loud, clear and more importantly – heard.

On behalf of RESOLVE New England, I want to personally thank New Hampshire Governor John Lynch and the members of the House for recognizing the importance of the New Hampshire infertility community’s access to care in their home state. We applaud all legislators and officials who recognized that House Bill 217 was not medically sound nor grounded in medical science.

RESOLVE New England remains opposed to any and all forms of legislation that may pose a direct threat or barrier to fertility treatments needed by as many as 7.3 million Americans living with infertility. We will continue to be the leading advocate for the infertility community of New England, as we have since 1974.

We hope you will celebrate this legislative victory with us by making a contribution to RESOLVE New England today: our advocacy efforts are working and your support of our advocacy initiatives throughout New England is vital.

We may have prevailed today in New Hampshire – but we know from experience we’ll have more legislative fights ahead. If we are to keep fighting to support the infertility community in New England, we need your help to keep going.

Thank you again to everyone who helped us achieve this victory in New Hampshire today.

In celebration,


Erin Lasker,
Executive Director, RESOLVE New England

Advocacy Timeline

  • 6/27/12: The New Hampshire House votes to sustain Governor Lynch’s veto of House Bill 217. House Bill 217 has successfully been defeated!
  • 6/18/12: Governor John Lynch vetoes House Bill 217, protecting the New Hampshire infertility community’s access to care.
  • 6/1/12: We urge New Hampshire residents to contact Governor Lynch’s office immediate to express opposition to his signing HB217 into law.
  • 5/30/12:House Bill 217 was concurred in the NH State House with Senator Forsythe’s embryo stage/8-week amendment with a vote of 210 yeas and 109 nays. The bill now heads to Governor John Lynch for signing.
  • 5/16/12: HB217 was adopted with two amendments by the NH State Senate. The first amendment introduced by Senator Houde, which would have defined a fetus from the medically established guidelines around viability, was voted 13 in favor, 11 against. A second amendment introduced by Senator Forsythe, defined a fetus as “an unborn offspring, from the embryo stage which is the end of the eighth week after conception when major structures have formed, until birth”; this amendment was voted 15 in favor, 9 against. House Bill 217 was voted to ought to pass with amendment in a vote of 18 yeas, 6 nays.
  • 5/9/12: The New Hampshire Senate moved to postpone the vote on HB 217 for another week. We still urge NH residents to contact their State Senators in the interim to express just how damaging HB 217 would be if passed as amended. We also want to stress that simply adding a provision to exclude IVF would not be enough, as HB 217 would still affect the cryopreservation of embryos, a standard but separate part of the IVF process.
  • 5/2/12: The New Hampshire State Senate has moved to push back the vote on HB 217 until May 9th. We still urge NH residents to contact their State Senators in the interim to express just how damaging HB 217 would be if passed as written.
  • 4/30/12: The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee passes an amendment to HB 217 that includes the following language:
    • “[The bill] shall [not] apply to any act committed by the mother of the unborn child, to any medical procedure, including abortion, performed by a physician or other licensed medical professional at the request of the pregnant woman or her legal guardian, or to the lawful dispensation or administration of lawfully prescribed medication.”
    • Defines “unborn child” as “human offspring from conception to birth”.
    • Defines “conception” as “the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum”.
    • Defines “pregnant” as a “female reproductive condition of having an unborn child in the woman’s body”.

Overview of House Bill 217

House Bill 217 amended the current homicide law in the state of New Hampshire to include the death of an unborn child, where an unborn child was being defined as the following:

from the moment of conception until birth. (“Conception” is being defined in this instance as the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum.)

The destruction of an unborn child, as defined by this amendment, would be viewed as criminal homicide under the amended law.

On May 16, 2012, the New Hampshire State Senate voted House Bill 217 ought to pass with amendment, amending the definition of a fetus to the following:

“an unborn offspring, from the embryo stage which is the end of the eighth week after conception when major structures have formed, until birth”

This definition of a fetus was not consistent with any established medical guidelines or definitions and was unnecessarily vague and ambiguous. Additionally, this bill made provisions that a woman must give consent regarding the destruction of a fetus. In theory, a physician who treats an ectopic pregnancy on a woman who has been rendered unconscious (e.g., in a car accident) could have been held criminally liable for the death of her fetus, under this new law and its amended language.

This language threw the infertility community’s access to care into question due to the ambiguity of the amended definition of a fetus. House Bill 217 headed to Governor John Lynch for his signature. On June 18, 2012, Governor Lynch vetoed the passage of House Bill 217.

The veto was upheld and sustained by the New Hampshire House on June 27, 2012, effectively killing this piece of legislation.

More information about the veto of HB 217 can be found online here.

Media Coverage