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New Hampshire Republicans Introduce Bill Banning Abortion BEFORE Conception

An illustration of a woman pointing at a large fertility calendar.

They’ve finally done it. Republicans, mad with power and low on basic understanding of human biology, have introduced an abortion ban so restrictive, it bans abortion before most pregnancies are even conceived.

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In New Hampshire, abortion is currently banned after 24 weeks (about six months) gestation. A group of Republicans have introduced a bill changing that age to just 15 days.

How this all works

Six-week abortion bans have come under fire as they’ve gained increasing popularity in states across the U.S. Any abortion ban is a major breach of personal autonomy and safety but a six-week ban is disastrous because it’s before most people even know they’re pregnant.

Sorry to get a little sciency (unlike these Republicans) but let’s do a super brief breakdown: Gestational age is measured not from the day of conception, but from the first day of a person’s last period—two weeks(ish) before ovulation, when conception can generally take place.

A pregnancy test usually won’t even register a pregnancy with reliable accuracy until another two weeks after that. If a person isn’t actively trying to get pregnant, they’re not likely to even take that test, and by the time they’ve noticed their next period is about two weeks “late” (and that’s assuming that person has a reliably regular 28-day cycle, which is far from standard), they are legally unable to get an abortion.


Menstrual cycle chart showing the stages of a cycle in a round graph.
Getty Images

(Note that that chart has ovulation marked for Days 13–15 but anywhere from Day 11–21 is considered “normal.”)

In New Hampshire, life begins before conception

Looking at that cycle through the lens of this legislation from the “Live Free or Die” state, if gestational age starts on Day 1 (the first day of a person’s last period), with a regular-ish cycle, ovulation usually happens between Day 11 and Day 21 (it varies wildly). These Republicans want to ban abortion starting at Day 15—not just before people know they’re pregnant, but before many pregnancies even exist!

I never thought we’d see anything more draconian than the idea that “life begins at conception,” but here we are, being told that in New Hampshire, Republicans’ control over our bodies begins before conception.

My first reaction is that this really highlights how so many of the men making these laws have absolutely no idea how our bodies work. But then I realized that some of them do, and they just don’t care. I’m not sure which is worse.

A previous version of this article included a typo stating the ban started at 15 weeks. It’s been corrected to reflect the much worse reality of the proposed ban.

(via Rolling Stone, featured image: PCH-Vector/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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