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Shaheen visits Keene Planned Parenthood as states pass restrictive abortion laws


U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., spoke to workers at a Planned Parenthood in Keene on Wednesday in a visit she said was prompted by recently passed laws restricting abortion in other states.

Last year in New Hampshire, 14,000 people went to a Planned Parenthood center for services, the organization said. Staff members said they provided $3 million of discounted or free health care.

"We have heard that patients are coming in and women are worried that what's happening in states like Alabama, Georgia or Ohio could happen here," said Sabrina Dunlap, of Planned Parenthood. "They are worried about the future of Planned Parenthood."

Legislatures in those states recently passed some of the most restrictive abortion laws in decades.

"We have eight states that are severely trying to restrict a woman's access to reproductive care," Shaheen said. "Their goal is to overturn Roe vs. Wade."

Shaheen said President Donald Trump's administration is also trying to impose a rule that would affect health care providers.

"They are talking about a domestic gag rule that would say to physicians and health care providers, 'You can't tell women about what their choices are,'" Shaheen said.

Shaheen said Planned Parenthood and other organizations provide valuable services.

"The number of unintended pregnancies has gone down consistently because they've had access to family planning," she said.

Members of organizations such as New Hampshire Right to Life said they think the new laws will help their goal of reducing the number of abortions.

"Our mission is the respect of all human life," said the Rev. Christian Tutor.

Tutor said there are more choices for women other than contraception and abortion.

"We want people to realize that life is so beautiful and worth defending," he said.

Staff members at Planned Parenthood said they will fight to keep New Hampshire law the way it is.

"New Hampshire has a long, bipartisan history of support for abortion rights, and we plan to keep it that way," Dunlap said.

Shaheen said she hopes to visit all five Planned Parenthood centers in the state.