The highlight reel: who “leavened the loaf” in 2015?

Your humble blogger spends New Year’s Eve taking a last look back before turning the page to 2016. Here’s what’s in view.

Greatest inspiration: David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress videos

David Daleiden speaking at Values Voters Summit 2015.. Photo by Ellen Kolb
David Daleiden speaking at Values Voters Summit 2015.. Photo by Ellen Kolb

The undercover work by David Daleiden’s team at Center for Medical Progress was a public service. What their detractors called “highly edited” videos are at this writing still available on the CMP web site, unedited, with transcripts.

In the videos, Planned Parenthood employees and contractors were recorded haggling over the prices for various fetal body parts. (PP was eventually moved to announce that they’d stop the selling, although they’ll take “reimbursements.” Make of that what you will.) PP medical personnel were recorded talking about adapting abortion methods not for the benefit of the pregnant woman but in order to obtain certain intact fetal specimens. CMP published procurement logs from PP affiliates showing which fetal parts were “harvested” on certain days.

Daleiden came in for some criticism from pro-lifers who were afraid that the “ugh” factor from the baby-body-parts revelations obscured the fact that the children were being aborted in the first place. That wasn’t obscured at all, as far as I’m concerned. Furthermore, the videos played a significant role in keeping some taxpayer funds away from PP in New Hampshire for the time being (more about that below).

I heard David Daleiden speak at a September event. “The worth of a human being is far more than the sum of his or her body parts,” he said. “Carry these values forward. Continue to share these videos.”

And make more of them, he might have added.

New Hampshire Activists of the Year: New Hampshire Right to Life

For what it’s done this year to grow the pro-life movement, model peaceful advocacy, and fight in court for government transparency, I give top honors for 2015 to New Hampshire Right to Life as New Hampshire Activist of the Year.

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The U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to hear NHRTL’s case regarding a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents relating to the end-run federal funding acquired by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England after a 2011 PP contract proposal was rejected by the New Hampshire Executive Council.  To this day, the way those federal funds materialized has never been made public. NHRTL fought for the public’s right to know what happened.

In another case, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was ordered earlier this month to pay NHRTL’s legal costs in a state-level right-to-know case. NHRTL filed a request with DHHS seeking documents about DHHS’s licensing of Planned Parenthood to distribute an abortion-inducing drug and about PP’s adherence to federal FDA protocol in dispensing the drug. DHHS responded with delays and redacted documents that were tantamount to denial of the right-to-know request. That didn’t play well in court. NHRTL president Jane Cormier said, “It was clear Planned Parenthood and the NH Dept. of Health and Human Services worked together to try to thwart a legitimate Right to Know request from NHRTL…. NH DHHS broke the law when it did not enforce a simple right to know request….It is our hope that in the future, Planned Parenthood will not receive unfair advantage and support from the New Hampshire Dept. of Health and Human Services.”

I noticed something whenever I attended an event this year that was organized or co-sponsored by NHRTL: new faces. That’s a reflection of an effective outreach program. The annual march for life in Concord is a NHRTL event. The group played an important role in organizing the Women Betrayed and #ProtestPP rallies. When PP held a State House rally, NHRTL led a peaceful and effective counter-demonstration. You get the idea.

Long ago, I was on the NHRTL board, but I am not now a member of the group. I’m just another New Hampshire pro-lifer, and I can’t help but see that this year NHRTL has been on the scene at important moments – and it has created some of those moments itself.

Best speakers – and a new event

I hesitate to say “best” in a year when so many excellent pro-life people made presentations in the Granite State. I’m highlighting two speakers who defend life in places we usually don’t hear much about.

When I was invited to speak at the Bringing America Back to Life – New England conference in July, I had no idea how great the other presentations would be. Two speeches in particular that I wish I’d videotaped: New Hampshire’s Kelly Roy Williams on Illuminating Love, her ministry in response to human trafficking, and Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, on gendercide and forced abortions in China. (Hear her interview on the Eric Metaxas Show.) Powerful women, powerful stories.

If you ever hear that Kelly or Reggie will be speaking in your area, reserve a seat. It’ll be worth it. And here’s hoping that the Bringing America Back to Life team puts on another program in ’16.

Best local video: “A Tale of Two Tragedies” by students at Immaculate Heart of Mary school, Still River, MA

Not your ordinary class project. 

Most popular posts on the blog this year

Eric Metaxas (photo: Ellen Kolb)
Eric Metaxas (photo: Ellen Kolb)

Eric Metaxas on religion in public life. From the prolific author’s convocation address at University of the South: “So the story of faith is and must always be the story of faith in public life. We are not to hide our light under a bushel. And if shining our light comes with a price, so be it.”

NH Rallies for an end to taxpayer funding of PP.  Coverage of the August #ProtestPP rally in Manchester was nicely augmented by photographs from Matthew Lomanno and Jennifer Robidoux – my thanks to both.

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The ribbon created by the family of Griffin Kenison.

Rep. Leon Rideout re-introduces Griffin’s Law. “He reminded the committee that his grandson would not have been the only one affected had a New Hampshire fetal homicide bill been in place already. He read aloud a list of the names of children whose deaths counted for nothing under current law. A lot of families are reflected in those names.”

Top tweet

Biggest State House disappointment

The failure to pass fetal homicide legislation was all the more frustrating because passage was so close – not as close as 2012, but close nonetheless. I am grateful to Rep. Leon Rideout and Sen. Regina Birdsell for championing the two bills that were introduced this year. Rideout’s bill is still alive for 2016, although Senate blockage looms. That was the fate of Birdsell’s bill. There are House members who blame the Senate for that, and there are Senate members who blame the House. Anger at or between any of the sponsors is misplaced. I say get over it. I stand more firmly than ever by what I wrote after the failure of the conference committee on SB 40.

I’m going to maintain the blog’s page on the whole sorry saga until New Hampshire finally gets with the program and passes a fetal homicide law. The Crucitti and Rideout families are waiting.

Best State House news: the Executive Council says No to NH’s largest abortion provider

For the second time since 2011, the Executive Council voted down a contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The lobbyist for PPNNE (a $20 million organization) warned that denying the $638,000-over-two-years contract would endanger health care for 12,000 women. Apparently, three of the Councilors read PP’s financial reports included in the contract bid, and noticed that this warning was coming from an agency that spent $1.5 million on public policy in 2014.

But it wasn’t the math that doomed the contract; it was the CMP videos. Councilors Joe Kenney and Chris Sununu both acknowledged as much in explaining their votes. “I’ve watched that video cover to cover with no edits,” said Sununu. “I’m pro-choice, but that’s not the issue here.” Kenney added, “I’m not comfortable voting for anything with Planned Parenthood’s name on it. And the people against this contract that I got calls from were women.” Thumbs down, with only Councilors Van Ostern and Pappas supporting PP’s bid.

Two less-controversial abortion providers were awarded smaller contracts that day on 4-1 votes, with Sununu and Kenney joining Van Ostern and Pappas. Only Dave Wheeler stoutly refused to vote to hand taxpayer dollars to abortion agencies, regardless of whether or not they were in the baby-parts business.

Which brings us to …

Best extemporaneous speech by a politician (or pretty much anyone else)

NH Executive Councilor David Wheeler
NH Executive Councilor David Wheeler

At the Women Betrayed rally at the State House in July, Executive Councilor Dave Wheeler got straight to the point when he was offered the mic.

“We [Councilors] are starting to get these nice notes from Planned Parenthood here. They’ve got flowers on them, and a sticker, and they say ‘don’t defund women’s services.’ You know, it’s kind of funny that they’re embarrassed to say ‘don’t defund abortion.’ They won’t say it, but that’s what our issue is. We’re not against cancer screenings or the other things. Just stop doing the evil, and maybe we could support the good you do.”

I put that on Facebook, and it became the year’s top post on the Leaven for the Loaf page.

Honorable mention video: 3% of PP’s services are abortion? “It’s a blatant lie,” says Abby Johnson

Very casually produced, but informative, and worth bookmarking for future reference:

Favorite unscheduled U.S. stop by a Pope

Pope Francis stopped to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor, who would be very relieved if the U.S. government would just let them care for the elder poor without paying for anyone’s contraception along the way.

This is the same Pope who was asked in April about people bringing their faith in God into the public policy arena. “Do I as a Catholic watch from my balcony? No, you can’t watch from the balcony. Get right in there!” he said.

Point taken.


 

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