Leaven for the Loaf is now four years old. To mark that milestone, I asked some New Hampshire pro-life veterans for their ideas about ways to move toward a more life-affirming culture in the Granite State. My thanks go to each contributor for participating in this informal online symposium. ~~~ Ellen Kolb
What are the most constructive things an individual can do to build a culture of life in New Hampshire? Bonus question: What book or online resource belongs on every pro-life resource list?
Jane Cormier: Change the dialogue
I believe the most important thing a person can do to assist in the Life movement here in New Hampshire is to become active in some local group, even if it is in a small way. By becoming active, we can participate in changing the dialogue within the discussion of life. More people participating in this debate will strengthen the Life movement.
As for recommended reading, I find a book entitled On Message by Mark Crutcher is a very effective and easy-to-read manual answering questions related to supporting Life.
Jane Cormier is president of New Hampshire Right to Life. She served as a New Hampshire state representative 2012 – 2014.
Kathleen Souza: “Persuade church officials that their leadership is essential”
Persuade Church officials that their leadership is essential. Their silence and apathy have slowed pro-life progress in New Hampshire. People of faith often sense that abortion is not a paramount issue and feel no responsibility to be involved, or to even vote pro-life.
Serving in the legislature has offered a great opportunity to bring forward pro-life legislation. However, church-going people, well-known practicing Catholics included, routinely render these efforts futile. If the lives – and deaths – of New Hampshire’s preborn children were made a priority in our churches, I really believe our culture would change.
[I’ve] been involved since January 22, 1973, when the news broke that the country we are responsible for would sanction abortion.
Kathy Souza is a six-term New Hampshire state representative from Manchester. She has been a member of New Hampshire Right to Life since 1973.
Nancy Elliott: “Euthanasia is the new front on life”
Euthanasia is the new front on life. There are those who seek to shorten the life span of those who are elderly, disabled or deformed. It is imperative that we get our message out to the public that these are people who are not necessarily dying. Assisted suicide laws are open to elder abuse, especially if the senior has money, and abuse of people with disabilities, as the vast majority of people at the point these laws apply have a disability). These laws also lead to people throwing their lives away when an incorrect diagnosis is made, which is estimated at 20% of the time. When people see all the facts they usually reject this scheme.
Darlene Pawlik: “Each of us has a sphere of influence”
I can think of two important things any New Hampshire citizen might do to advance the culture of life. One is to either run or support another full spectrum pro-life person in their race to the House or Senate. In a massive cooperative effort, we could see real change. The law is a teacher. If the law permits behavior, it seems acceptable. This is how culture changes. We need more people who recognize our God-given rights creating our laws and supporting those already there.
Shannon McGinley: “There are many parts to the body”
It depends on the season of your life: run for state office, contact legislators, live out the Culture of Life in your daily life as a mother. There are many parts to the body: political, educational, compassionate care, legal, activism (sidewalk counseling).
Two books that laid the foundation for me: Abortion: Questions and Answers by Jack Willke, and Pro-life Answers to Pro-choice Questions by Randy Alcorn.
Shannon McGinley is a longtime volunteer and philanthropist in the New Hampshire pro-life community. She and her husband Doug have five sons.
Phyllis Woods: Educate “about the sacred, unique, and absolute value of all human life”
To advance the culture of life status in our state and nation, our biggest challenge remains changing hearts and minds. This begins by educating ourselves and then others about the sacred, unique, and absolute value of all human life. This first step must be rooted in a spiritual and biblical foundation. Fr. John Powell wrote in his book Abortion and the Silent Holocaust about questioning the German people after the Jewish Holocaust. He asked them, “Did you know? Did you care? Did you do anything?” Today we know about the horror of abortion and if we truly care we must do something – anything we can. Otherwise we will one day have to answer these questions before God.
If you believe each person really has an inalienable right to life, then silence and inaction in the face of 52 million abortions is inexcusable as scripture tells us. Everyone can do something: donate to a pro-life organization, join a March for Life, write to a newspaper, volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, testify in support of pro-life legislation, work for or support pro-life candidates, or run for office yourself if able. At the very least, and perhaps most important, you can pray to end abortion.
To read: Abortion: the Silent Holocaust was written in 1981 and was probably the most influential in clicking me into gear to be a prolife activist. I would also suggest Personhood by Daniel Becker.
Phyllis Woods is a former state representative from Dover and was sponsor of several pro-life bills, including New Hampshire’s first parental notification law.
Sister Mary Rose Reddy: a book suggestion
To read: I highly recommend Architects of the Culture of Death by DeMarco and Wiker. It is very informative and definitely a page turner.
Sister Mary Rose Reddy, DMML is Director of Family Faith Formation at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary and St. Leo parishes in Rochester.