By the authority vested in me, pursuant to part II, Article 44 of the New Hampshire Constitution, on June 15, 2012, I vetoed HB 1679, an act relating to partial birth abortion.
I am not a proponent of so-called partial birth abortion. The practice is exceedingly rare, and highly restricted by federal law. HB 1679 is unnecessary in light of the federal ban on partial birth abortion that was enacted by Congress in 2003. I am also concerned that HB 1679 could unnecessarily jeopardize the life of the mother in emergency circumstances.
HB 1679, like the federal Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003, would ban the practice of partial birth abortion by physicians and non-physicians except to save the life of the mother, whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.
But unlike the federal ban, HB 1679 would first require that a qualified physician examine and determine whether a pregnant woman suffered from a life-threatening condition. Before that physician could perform the partial birth abortion, he or she would then have to identify a second physician at another hospital or practice that is "not legally or financially affiliated" with the physician and the second physician would also have to determine and document that the life of the mother is endangered before the abortion could be performed.
The added requirement for a documented referral from a second, non-affiliated physician could have serious consequences in emergency situations. Under HB 1679, a physician in a rural hospital that admitted a pregnant woman with a life-threatening condition would be prohibited from proceeding with a procedure permitted by federal law, unless the physician identified another physician who was unaffiliated and who could determine and document her life-threatening condition. The lapse of time in finding that second physician and obtaining the needed referral could be significant and could result in the death of the pregnant woman.
I believe the federal law is appropriately more protective of the life of the pregnant woman.
For all of these reasons, I have vetoed HB 1679.