CONCORD, N.H. – New Hampshire’s House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a new idea in mortuary science that would allow bodies to be dissolved into a soapy liquid as an alternative to cremation.

The Legislature voted to allow the process in 2006, but reversed itself the next year and banned it. An attempt to lift the ban failed in 2009.

Supporters argued the process is allowed in nine or 10 other states now.

Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, the bill’s prime sponsor, said it is a matter of individual choice.

“Government should not be telling me what to do with my remains,” he said.

Opponents called it undignified to flush the liquid remains into the sewer.

Rep. Donald LeBrun, R-Nashua, asked if the state wanted to “send granny, dad, mom or an uncle down the sewer to end up as fertilizer.”

“Is it dignified to have your body go into an incineration oven and have it burn and burn?” responded Vaillancourt, R-Manchester.

Rep. Lawrence Kappler, R-Raymond, objected that the residue, a greenish brown liquid, would be flushed down the sewer system.

But Rep. Laurie Harding, D-Lebanon, said the effluent contains less bacteria than body wastes and produces fewer emissions than cremation.

The process — alkaline hydrolysis — uses lye, 300-degree heat and 60 pounds of pressure to destroy bodies in stainless-steel cylinders. It leaves behind a coffee-colored liquid with the consistency of motor oil and a strong ammonia smell.

The process was developed about 20 years ago as a way of getting rid of animal carcasses.