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Ellen KolbApril 20, 2015Leave a comment

Two Notes on Rand Paul

Observations, not an endorsement, from two recent encounters I’ve had with a presidential candidate:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) at 2015 Susan B. Anthony Summit

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) at 2015 Susan B. Anthony Summit

I had a chance to ask Senator (and physician) Rand Paul Paul of Kentucky about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision regarding Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate (see WMUR-TV’s Conversation with the Candidate for transcript). Was it a net win or loss for liberty? Paul didn’t hesitate for a moment: “Net win.”

More recently, I attended the Susan B. Anthony List’s annual summit meeting in Washington, D.C., where Senator Paul spoke for about ten minutes on the right to life. The full speech is available on YouTube. What struck me were his remarks on the life/liberty nexus. “Some have said to me, ‘well, you’re big on all this liberty stuff; why do you want to restrict a woman’s right to choose?’ And I say, you know what? Government has some role in our lives. One of the main roles a government has is to restrict you from harming another individual, which gets us back to the original debate: when life begins, there is a role for the state. It’s not that I’m against people choosing things. I’m one of the biggest believers in choice and liberty. But you can’t have liberty if you don’t protect where your liberty originates from, and that’s your right to life.”

In the coming months, I’ll be reporting on other candidates and probable candidates for president as they pass through the Granite State. Are you asking them about the right to life or about religious liberty concerns? What are you hearing from them?


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Ellen KolbApril 18, 2015Leave a comment

Three years down, more to go: thanks for reading!

thumbnail logo - CopyApril 17 marked the third anniversary of the day I launched Leaven for the Loaf. Thank you to my readers, a few of whom have followed the blog from day one and most of whom who have joined more recently. Seldom has a labor of love been so much fun. I hope to keep it going for a long time. I shall celebrate with a caffeinated beverage (a critical item in any blogger’s toolbox).

June 2012: religious freedom rally in Concord (with Catherine Adair)

June 2012: religious freedom rally in Concord (with Catherine Adair)

The first post I made (Still Talking About This) holds up pretty well as my statement of purpose for this enterprise. When I wrote it, I had no idea how many places my writing and reporting would take me and how many people I’d meet whose paths I wouldn’t otherwise have crossed. I’m richer for those experiences, and I hope I’ve written about them in a way that enriches readers as well. Thanks for all the news tips, introductions, and amazing projects you’ve shared with me.

January 2014: Marching for Life in Concord

January 2014: Marching for Life in Concord

I didn’t know what Instagram was in 2012. I hadn’t done much on Twitter or Google+. Now, the blog is on those media platforms with more to come. I never would have guessed three years ago that someone browsing on Pinterest could come across a photo from Leaven and click on it – but that happens. I’ve had some excellent pro advice (thank you, James and the Altos team) to help me with the back end of the blog, meaning everything that isn’t the actual writing, and everyone who has ever clicked on this site can be grateful since my own tech skills approach zero.

I’ll keep moving forward with the same determination I had when I started three years ago: So yes, we’re still talking about this. Pro-lifers cannot be effective if they stay huddled together. I propose that we step out in faith and leaven the loaf of public discourse. Let’s begin.

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Ellen KolbApril 14, 2015Leave a comment

A reporter who did her job

hashtag-gosnell (1024x355) (800x277)I’m indebted to Karen Testerman and TheGosnellMovie.com for reminding me of this anniversary: two years ago today, journalist Kirsten Powers called out her professional colleagues for their silence about the crimes of Kermit Gosnell. She effectively shamed major news organizations into covering the trial of an abortionist from whose activities they would have preferred to avert their gaze.

See her groundbreaking article from USA Today, 4/11/13. It was all the more effective coming from a woman not associated with the pro-life movement. Gosnell snipped the spines of children who survived attempts at late-term abortion. He ran a facility that left some women injured or worse. In Powers’ own words, “This is not about being ‘pro-choice’ or ‘pro-life.’ It’s about basic human rights.”

Abortion advocates went into damage-control mode as soon as Powers put the spotlight on Gosnell’s trial. A NARAL Pro-Choice America “Blog for Choice” post was particularly fascinating in a watching-a-train-wreck sort of way, with the writer claiming, “The horrific conditions in Gosnell’s clinic are an example of what happens to women and our basic dignity when abortion isn’t available through safe and legal providers.” I wrote a post of my own in response, “NARAL blames pro-lifers for Gosnell”, pointing out that Gosnell was operating legally, and he was “safe” as far as the state of Pennsylvania was concerned.

Kermit Gosnell wound up in jail for his crimes, including his role in the death of Karnamaya Mongar. (At last report, he was unrepentant.) Never forget what he did – and never forget what Kirsten Powers did.


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Ellen KolbApril 9, 2015Leave a comment

Two years ago: the first hint of a NH buffer zone

Peaceful prayer witnesses outside Concord's Feminist Health Center

Still free to be on the sidewalk, for now: peaceful witness outside a Concord abortion facility.

As a House-passed buffer zone repeal bill makes its way through the New Hampshire Senate (where its prospects are uncertain), I recall a post on this blog two years ago when buffer zones first made their way into public discussion in the Granite State.

From April 2013: PPNNE is having “conversations” about no-protest zones outside NH facilities 

The appellate court decision referred to by the PPNNE rep I quoted was of course McCullen v. Coakley, which when later appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court left the Massachusetts buffer zone law in ruins. The Burlington zone she mentioned? Gone. Ditto for one in Portland, Maine.

So much for using appellate decisions to impose censorship zones.

Today, two years later, buffer zone supporters are fighting repeal while backing away from their own handiwork – a neat trick, really. In my thirty years of keeping an eye on the State House, I have never seen anything like this.

The Sunday afternoon team at the halfway point of the Fall 2014 campaign.

A 40DFL team outside Greenland, NH’s abortion facility.

A PPNNE lobbyist at a recent Senate hearing used a Pennsylvania decision from last month to bolster her opposition to repeal. (Yes, another appellate ruling. Some lessons aren’t easily absorbed.) That case is Bruni v. Bader. The federal district court ruled that plaintiffs were unlikely to prevail on the merits and therefore their request for an injunction against a Pittsburgh buffer zone was denied.

I’m not an attorney, I haven’t yet read the text of that decision, and none of the news coverage answers this question: is there a record in Pittsburgh of police action enforcing existing pre-buffer laws relating to trespassing, loitering, harassment, or even parking violations? If there isn’t, then Bruni is a mighty slim reed for New Hampshire buffer supporters to lean on.

Looking back on the April 2013 blog post, it’s interesting to consider just how fast the New Hampshire buffer zone law moved from “conversation” to done deal. The conversations had obviously been going on long before they became public. The same is no doubt true for the current legislative “conversations” about revisiting the existing law.  Let’s hope the people who want straight repeal are equally committed to such private conversations with policymakers.