Earlier this month, the New Hampshire state legislature passed Senate Bill 66, a bill that made medical professionals who aborted a fetus that was at least 20 weeks old guilty of an act comparable to “first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and causing or aiding suicide.”
But, in trying to provide immunity to those charges for the woman who would have had the abortion, the bill mistakenly allowed pregnant women to legally kill anyone. Originally, the bill said murder charges couldn’t apply to “any act committed by the pregnant woman.”
Yesterday, the state House passed an amended version of SB66, making it clear that a pregnant woman could not be charged for the death of a fetus, but was not exempt from murder charges in general. Action by the state Senate came later the same day.
Even if the bill had been signed into law with its original language, the certainty of its legally allowing pregnant women to commit murder would have conflicted with New Hampshire laws, not to mention superseding federal ones. Yet in a comment to the Concord Monitor, Devon Chaffee, the director of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the amendment made the bill even more confusing.
“It changes the structure of the bill’s exemptions in a manner that is very difficult to understand. And these exemptions are critical: They protect pregnant women and their physicians from unjust murder and other homicide convictions.”
New Hampshire’s governor, Chris Sununu, a Republican, is expected to sign SB66 into law. A round-up by the National Conference of State Legislatures shows that “at least 38 states have fetal homicide laws.”