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New Hampshire GOP Senate candidate says he supports all abortion bans, exceptions or not

Republican Senate candidate Kevin Smith said he would vote for a ban with exceptions: ‘I don’t think we should allow the good to be the enemy of the perfect.’ 

By Josh Israel - July 18, 2022
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Kevin Smith

New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Kevin Smith said last week that he would vote for a federal abortion ban — with or without exceptions. He has previously claimed to back exceptions to such bans in cases of rape or incest and to save the life of the pregnant person.

Smith, a former town manager of Londonderry, New Hampshire, and one-time state representative, spoke on July 14 during a candidate event in Brentwood, New Hampshire, organized by the right-wing Government Integrity Project and said that he is open to backing any and all abortion bans:

Look, I am pro-life, but I’ve always said that we shouldn’t allow the good to be the enemy of the perfect. And so if there was pro-life legislation introduced that would protect the unborn baby at earlier than, say, 24 weeks as we have in this state, I’d support it. But if it included exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother, I could support those exceptions. I’d be okay with it, because, as I said before, I don’t think we should allow the good to be the enemy of the perfect.

Smith notes on his campaign website, “I have always been a proud pro-life Republican. My faith leads me to believe we must protect the sanctity of life. In fact, I was so honored to have been named the pro-family legislator of the year as a young, 19-year-old state representative back in 1997.” The site also features the endorsement of former New Hampshire Right to Life chair Barbara Hagan.

Smith has previously framed himself as an opponent of abortion rights, but with some exceptions.

“I’ve always been pro-life with exceptions of rape, incest, and life of the mother,” he told Manchester television station WMUR in May, just after a draft of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked. “And look, this latest draft decision, assuming it is the actual final decision, merely returns the issue to the states, and in New Hampshire, we have what I think most people would consider a more than reasonable law which restricts late-term abortions.”

But in 1997, Smith authored a bill in the New Hampshire House of Representatives that would, had it passed, have banned a surgical procedure frequently used in abortions in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy and after miscarriages. While his draft legislation initially included an exception to save the life of the patient, he later submitted an amendment that left out that exception.

A Smith campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Since the Supreme Court’s June decision in Dobbs, anti-abortion Republicans have been clamoring for a nationwide abortion ban. Should Republicans regain control of Congress in the November midterms, they are likely to push for one.

National polling shows that Smith’s and his party’s position is out of step with that of the majority of voters, who tell pollsters that abortion should be legal and disagree with the recent Supreme Court ruling. A University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll in May found that 61% of the state’s adults opposed overturning the 1973 ruling in Roe that affirmed a constitutional right to abortion.

Smith has long been a far-right social conservative activist. From 2009 to 2011, he was executive director of Cornerstone Action, a New Hampshire anti-LGBTQ organization. There, he pushed to keep “pro-gay” curriculum out of public schools and fought against LGBTQ-inclusive anti-bullying legislation. During his tenure, the organization’s website included links promoting harmful “conversion therapy” that, it was claimed without evidence, could change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Smith is one of several anti-abortion candidates competing in the Sept. 13 Republican Senate primary.

The winner will face first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in November. Hassan is pro-choice and has been endorsed by both NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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