A bill filed by four New Hampshire Republicans that would ban abortions after 15 days of pregnancy made national headlines on Tuesday.
By Wednesday, there were only three.
HB 1248 was co-sponsored by GOP Reps. Dave Testerman (Franklin), John Sellers (Bristol), and Kristine Perez (Londonderry), and by state Sen. Carrie Gendreau (R-Littleton).
On Wednesday, Perez apologized to her constituents for backing the bill, claiming she was misled about the 15-day restriction.
“When I was first approached with the intent of this proposed bill, I was told that it would offer to lower the existing limit of 6 months (24 weeks) without restrictions to 3.5 months (15 weeks) without restrictions for pregnancy termination,” Perez wrote.
“When the draft was released from the Office of Legislative Services (OLS), I did not do my due diligence and neglected to review the proposal prior to agreeing to co-sponsor. This was my mistake and, admittedly, a grave one. I trusted but did not verify, but this is not being offered as an excuse.
“Although I am pro-life, I have said since first announcing my run for representative that I would not have a personal agenda but instead be your voice. That continues to be my pledge,” Perez added. “I am truly sorry that I potentially misrepresented your voice.”
The bill has virtually no support in either party and no chance of becoming law. Gov. Chris Sununu has already dismissed the proposal, saying it belongs “in the crazy pile.”
One of the three remaining co-sponsors, Sellers, acknowledged the bill is DOA. He said he signed on as a matter of principle. “My opinion is life begins at conception.”
But none of those facts stopped national media outlets like NBC News, HuffPost, and Rolling Stone from seizing on the story, plastering news sites with eye-popping headlines. Few of the reports, including local TV station WMUR, mentioned the bill had just four sponsors out of the 424-member state legislature.
“Republicans in New Hampshire Want to Ban Abortion After Just 15 Days,” announced The New Republic, which falsely claimed “the state has a real chance at passing the bill” because Republicans control the governorship and state legislature.
(The magazine also wrote the bill “flies in the face of what most New Hampshire [sic] believe.”)
President Joe Biden piled on, too. While he is unwilling to campaign in New Hampshire (part of his effort to kill the First in the Nation presidential primary), Biden talked about Granite State politics Tuesday during a fundraiser in Weston, Mass.
“Just as in the last few days, the Republican legislature in New Hampshire has put forward for approval a 15-day ban on any abortion — 15 days, not 15 weeks. Fifteen days,” Biden said.
The Democratic Governors Association even tried to link the legislation to Republican Kelly Ayotte, noting Gendreau has endorsed Ayotte’s gubernatorial campaign.
Several House Republicans speaking on background told NHJournal they were frustrated by the unwillingness of some of their fellow legislators to work on behalf of the caucus as a whole. Proposing a “ridiculous click-bait bill” on abortion, as one House member called it, hands Democrats a talking point to use against Republicans in the suburban districts they need to hold if they want to maintain their extremely thin majority.
Several Republicans compared it to the 2022 “secession” bill, proposing the Granite State secede from the United States. The legislation was filed by a few fringe Republicans and only had the support of 13 members of the GOP caucus. It was unanimously declared “Inexpedient to Legislate” in committee, and Republicans overwhelmingly voted to table it.
But 153 House Democrats voted in favor of bringing the secession bill to the floor, keeping the issue alive and generating another round of national headlines defining the state GOP by the actions of a handful of extremists.
HB 1248 is deja vu all over again, House Republicans say.
“This bill is going to get brought to the floor — the Democrats will make sure of that — and it will make headlines again,” another frustrated Republican said. “What will make it even better is when Cornerstone scores everyone who votes against it.”