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April 17, 2024 5:34 pm

Local News

Anti-abortion Groups in New Hampshire Push More Extreme Candidates to the General Election

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Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn

Several members of the New Hampshire State Legislature who sought reelection will not be on the ballot in the general election this November after anti-abortion groups targeted their districts this month. Residents of Pittsfield, Chichester, and Wolfeboro received flyers just days before the primary election attacking Republican incumbents who had voted to add an exception to the Granite State’s 24-week abortion ban in cases where the fetus had a fatal anomaly, meaning it would never survive birth. In the end, Representatives James Allard and Brodie Deshaies lost their primary elections. Allard was unseated by Cyril Aures and Clayton Wood, and Deshaies lost to Katy Peternel. Aures, Wood, and Peternel have all been endorsed by New Hampshire Cornerstone, one of the groups that targeted Allard and Deshaies.

On their website, New Hampshire Cornerstone says that they are careful in choosing who to endorse based on their commitment to Cornerstone’s values. They claim that candidates like Aures, Wood, and Peternel are “people in whom we believe you can place your confidence.” This makes it likely that candidates they endorse would support policies like the one proposed by Senator Regina Birdsell this year. Birdsell’s policy would have made life harder for parents who receive the devastating news that their child has a fatal fetal anomaly, meaning the fetus will never survive. Birdsell wanted to require parents in that situation to undergo induced labor to end the pregnancy, forcing them to go through all the risks of labor and delivery to give birth to a dead child. Sen. Birdsell was also endorsed by New Hampshire Cornerstone.

Other states have similar requirements, meaning we do not need to wonder what that experience is like for the parent. In Louisiana, Dr. Valerie Williams told the story of a woman whose fetus never had a heartbeat. The normal medical procedure to resolve the miscarriage would have taken 15 minutes, but hospital lawyers said it may not be legal. Instead, Dr. Williams had to induce labor. 

“Going back into that hospital room and telling the patient that she would have to be induced and push out that fetus was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had,” Williams wrote in a court affidavit. In the end, the mother had to suffer through hours of labor to deliver a nonviable fetus. “She was screaming—not from pain, but from the emotional trauma she was experiencing,” Dr. Williams said.

That is the reality of the policies that New Hampshire Cornerstone supports and seeks from their endorsed candidates. Parents will be subjected to further physical and emotional trauma right after they learn that their child will never live. Wood and Aures will face off against Democratic candidates Sally Hoskinson Kelly and Daniel Schroth to represent HD 13 this November. Katy Peternel is the only Cornerstone-endorsed candidate for HD 6, where she is running alongside Republican John MacDonald and Democrats Carrie Duran and Gogi Millner.