Pro-life and free-speech advocates saddened and confused by Sununu veto
Gov reneges on commitment to sign buffer zone repeal
NHRTL suggests buffer zone law now be referred to as the Sununu Sidewalk Ban
(Concord, NH – May 29, 2022) Pro-lifers and free-speech advocates across the state were saddened and confused upon hearing of Gov Sununu’s veto of HB1625, the Sidewalk Free Speech Act. In doing this, Gov Sununu reneged on his written promise to sign a repeal of NH’s never-used abortion provider buffer zone law. This promise was enthusiastically received by the pro-life community and likely influenced many voters.
The buffer zone law should now be referred to as the Sununu Sidewalk Ban, given the Governor’s sole decision to keep it on the books.
Jason Hennessey, President of NH Right to Life, said:
“If Sununu is willing to go back on his word on this, then what else? I don’t want to think that any special interest that spends the most on ads/lobbying can compromise the Governor’s integrity, but it appears that way since he knew this was a bad law when he committed to repealing it. We hope and pray that the Sununu Sidewalk Ban won’t be used to stop peaceful volunteer sidewalk advocates from offering free support to women and children in need.”
NH’s buffer zone law (RSA 132:37-40) gives abortion businesses the ability to designate a “buffer zone” of up to 25 feet around the entrance where they are allowed to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly on public property by prohibiting “Congregating, Patrolling, Picketing, or Demonstrating”. The law is unnecessary because other laws already protect clients and workers at abortion clinics.
Given that a buffer zone has never been implemented in NH after 7 years, and that not one NH conviction was mentioned at the hearings, the law is even less necessary now than in 2016 when Sununu signed the promise.