New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, said Thursday he would not veto the state budget over a provision that bans abortions at or after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
“I’m a pro-choice governor, but like most citizens of the state of New Hampshire, I do not think that we should be doing late-term or at-the-very-last-minute-type abortions,” Sununu said in a radio interview with New Hampshire Today. “That’s all this really touches upon. And I think most people agree that that’s not appropriate. So, no, I wouldn’t necessarily veto a budget over that.”
The provision in the budget bans abortions when a pregnancy reaches 24 weeks, and it makes it a felony for a doctor to perform the procedure at or after that time, unless there’s a medical emergency.
The Senate is set to vote on the budget on Thursday.
When the host of the show asked Sununu if doctors in New Hampshire are performing late-term abortions, Sununu said the state does not track that data, so it’s “unknown” if they are happening in the state.
“We’re one of the only states that doesn’t even carry statistics on it,” he said. “I think we should. I think it’s odd. I’m a data guy. It’s hard to make decisions when you don’t have all the data at your hands. There’s been a big push for years not to keep track of that information. I don’t agree with that. I think we should be keeping track of that information as a whole, not on individuals of course, but in a non-descriptive data. So it’s a bit unknown as to if this is even happening.”
The 24-week abortion ban initially passed the House in late February as a standalone bill, and an amended version cleared a Senate committee last week, setting up a vote before the full Senate. But legislators opted to add the abortion ban to the state budget instead.
The New Hampshire Democratic Party responded to Sununu’s comments Thursday in a statement, calling the governor “anti-choice.”
“There shouldn’t be any doubt: Governor Chris Sununu is anti-choice and supports restricting abortion,” NHDP spokesperson Gates MacPherson said in the statement. “By promising to sign Senate Republicans’ anti-choice legislation, Chris Sununu made clear he supports an abortion ban without exceptions for rape or incest.”
Sununu’s position on abortion restrictions has been closely watched as the 2022 midterm elections approach. While he has not publicly announced his plans for 2022, there is wide speculation that Sununu could challenge New Hampshire’s Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan.
The budget’s approval would make New Hampshire the most recent Republican-led legislature to implement restrictions on abortions amid a wave of measures that have passed in several states this year. Antiabortion advocates hope the newly cemented conservative majority on the US Supreme Court will take a more favorable view of such laws.
In March, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a near-total abortion ban into law. The measure bans health care providers from performing abortions “except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency.” Last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that bans abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, which is as early as six weeks and before many women know they are pregnant.
A bill signed into law in South Carolina in February that bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected was blocked by a federal court.