Washington examiner // REBECCA BERG | SEPTEMBER 22, 2014 | 6:20 PM
The New Hampshire Republican Party amended its platform this weekend with stricter abortion provisions, including support for "personhood," which defines life as beginning at conception.
Personhood has become a hot-button issue in Senate races across the country this year, such as Colorado, where Democrats have successfully attacked Rep. Cory Gardner for having supported such a measure in the past.
Now, the issue could spread to New Hampshire, following the state party's decision at its convention.
The platform now states: "Support the unborn child's fundamental right to life and establish that, in NH law, personhood begins at conception."
It adds: “Support a Life at Conception Act guaranteeing the protections of Life and Personhood to the pre-born under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
The platform previously supported "implement(ing) all possible legal protections" and acknowledged the "unborn child's fundamental right to life."
The new wording was proposed by Walt Stapleton, a New Hampshire small business owner, and approved by a voice vote with little discussion. Stapleton confirmed to theWashington Examiner that he proposed the amendment.
Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who is running for re-election against Republican Scott Brown, indicated in a statement Monday that she now plans to make personhood, and its place in the state GOP's platform, an issue in the campaign.
"The message from Scott Brown and his Republican Party is disturbing, alarming and clear: they believe they should make the decisions about birth control and health care for women in New Hampshire and around the country," Shaheen said. "They are dangerously wrong, and by signing on with Tea Party extremists, they're showing just how irresponsibly out of touch they are with the needs and rights of women."
Brown's campaign and the state Republican party did not respond to requests for comment. Brown has described himself in the past as "pro-choice" on abortions.
Steve Duprey, who has run many Republican campaigns in New Hampshire, predicted Republicans, including Brown, would not be greatly hindered by the new platform. "I know very few Republicans that support every plank of the platform," Duprey said.
But personhood, which would ban all abortions without exception and limit access to birth control, has already become an issue in other races this year. In Colorado, Gardner has attempted to distance himself from his past support for the provision, but Democrats have nevertheless spent millions of dollars on advertisements emphasizing the opposite.