Category Archives: Media

reviews and reports about films, books, web sites, and other media

Thanks, Readers: the Blog Turns Five

Five years ago today, I put up the first post on Leaven for the Loaf. Pro-life issues in New Hampshire seemed like a tiny niche for a blog, but I plunged in anyway.  Thank you for plunging in with me. As long as I can travel and observe and report, I’ll keep blogging.

From an earlier “blogiversary”: a cupcake decorated by a creative neighbor.

Want to celebrate with me? Hug your family. Pray with steady faith. Give a box of diapers to your local pregnancy help center. Volunteer for an elder support program like Meals on Wheels. Donate blood. Stay in touch with your elected representatives. Witness to the value of life, publicly and peacefully. And have a cupcake.

I’m deeply grateful to the supporters who have helped defray expenses for travel and tech support. That includes those of you who have made Amazon.com purchases via the links on this site.

In the long-ago inaugural post, I described New Hampshire’s political/legal situation regarding abortion – which is only one aspect of pro-life work. The situation hasn’t changed much. I re-state it below not out of discouragement, but in a spirit of determination. I refuse to settle for the status quo. And with that, let the next five years commence.

New Hampshire currently is the Wild West where abortion law is concerned. Women’s safety and public health policy would seem to call for a degree of regulation and oversight, even if one were to put aside the fact that each abortion takes a human life. Abortion advocates are  loud and angry over each and every one of the bills, however, drawing no distinction among parental notification (enacted over a veto), funding restrictions, statistical reporting, and a late-term ban. To them, it’s all one big attack on Choice, part of a larger effort to set women back.

This is worse than nonsense. What I see being set back are the rights of women and men who choose not to pay even indirectly for the operation of an abortion facility.  I see people lobbying to keep abortion undocumented, so that public health officials will continue to be in the dark about how many New Hampshire women make this “choice” every year. I hear testimony to the need for eugenic abortion, which is a throwback to one of the 20th century’s worst ideas. I hear women who should know better equate a 24-hour waiting period with an outright ban on abortion.

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.



 

“Gosnell” Book: Tough & Challenging

Cross-posted at EllenKolb.com. This post contains an affiliate link.

Gosnell by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer is not easy to read. The style is smooth and fluent, but the topic’s a tough one: Kermit Gosnell, former abortion doctor, now serving life in prison. He killed children who survived attempts to abort them. He was found responsible for the death of a woman who came to him for an abortion and died under what passed for his “care.”

He committed terrible crimes. He is in prison now. Reporters covered the trial as it happened, once they were shamed into it by people like journalist Kirsten Powers. Three years after Gosnell’s conviction, there is now a book that sets down not only what happened, but tells more about the people who were involved. As McElhinney and McAleer tell their stories, the book becomes less about a court case and more about human beings, capable of good choices and bad ones.

I listened to McIlhinney and McAleer talk about their book at CPAC, a political conference in Washington. An odd venue, but perhaps that was the place to reach readers who might not otherwise hear of the book. McAleer was a quiet man, leaving most of the talking to his co-author (who is also his wife).

McIlhenney was not at all quiet. She was passionate and angry as she talked about Gosnell. She was indignant. She called Gosnell “America’s biggest serial killer,” and she meant it. She made no bones about it: she had no objectivity left regarding her subject.

Familiar as I was with the Gosnell case, and as impressed as I was by McElhinney’s passion, I wondered what could be new in the book. As I read, I quickly realized that the close attention to the individuals involved in the case, starting with the investigators, set Gosnell apart from anything else I’ve read on the subject.

The authors’ perspective is unique as well, as McElhinney explains in the preface: “I never trusted or liked pro-life activists. Even at college I thought them too earnest and too religious.”

Fast forward to April 2013 and Kermit Gosnell’s trial in Philadelphia, when everything changed….[T]he images shown in the courtroom were not from activists, they were from police detectives and medical examiners and workers at the 3801 Lancaster Ave. clinic….What they said and the pictures they showed changed me. I am not the same person I was.

Read the rest of the post at EllenKolb.com.

Weekend views & reading: voices to trust

As the “women’s marches” are winding down, I’m glad to hear from some pro-life women that their experience at the Washington March has been peaceful.

Video

Abby Johnson, expecting twins and having contractions at the march, describes the excitement and encouragement of her fellow marchers – including those who, without apparent irony, support abortion.

Aimee Murphy of Life Matters Journal was interviewed by MSNBC. Aimee, like me, is a Trump skeptic. Possibly a very different political outlook from yours, but pro-life for sure.

Remembering some Voices to Trust

While pro-life women are peacefully nudging their way into the spotlight this weekend, this is a good time to look back on this blog’s Voices to Trust series. The women profiled in the series have stories of their own, the likes of which are not being featured in most coverage of today’s marches.

“9 Days for Life” kicks off today

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a 9 Days for Life project, based on the Catholic tradition of a novena, or nine-day prayer effort for a special intention. People of all faiths are welcome to join. Read more about the project and get some good ideas for social media work over the next nine days.

 

A timely throwback video: “Bureau of Womanhood Conformity”

The team at the Susan B. Anthony List reminded me today of a canny little video they made a few years back, when the outgoing president and his appointees imposed the HHS mandate.  The video hits a nerve anew, in this week of the rescission of an invitation to pro-lifers by organizers of a so-called “Women’s March.” This week, it’s not a president speaking – but the Bureau of Womanhood Conformity sounds like it’s still in business.


 

The pro-life essays of Nat Hentoff

On January 7, Nat Hentoff died. (Wesley Smith’s tribute does him justice.) He was a writer, a syndicated columnist, a lover of jazz, an atheist, a passionate civil libertarian, and a pro-lifer. I will always be in his debt, although I never met him. Reading his work while I was in my early twenties was subtly life-altering. His writing was one of many influences that made me think about things I’d rather not have thought about, eventually forcing me off the fence and into the pro-life movement.

If Hentoff’s name is unfamiliar to you, prepare to have your horizons broadened.

The Human Life Review, which published many of Hentoff’s pieces on the life issues, has done honor to him and service to readers by setting up a memorial web page. On it is a link, good through January 17, to a free download of a collection of Hentoff essays spanning twenty years.

Hentoff came around to a pro-life position only gradually, and not without pushback. From My Controversial Choice to Become Pro-life:

I didn’t see that an actual baby, a human being, was being killed by abortion for years because just about everyone I knew—my wife, members of the family, the reporters I worked with at the Village Voice and other places—were pro-choice. But then—covering cases of failed late-term abortions with a live baby bursting into the room to be hidden away until it died—I began to start examining abortion seriously.

I came across medical textbooks for doctors who cared for pregnant women, and one of them—The Unborn Patient: Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment by Drs. Harrison, Golbus, and Filly—turned me all the way around: “The concept that the fetus is a patient, an individual (with a DNA distinct from everyone else’s), whose maladies are a proper subject for medical treatment . . . is alarmingly modern. . . . Only now are we beginning to consider the fetus seriously—medically, legally, and ethically.”

I also began to be moved by a nationally known pro-life black preacher who said: “There are those who argue that the [woman’s] right to privacy is of a higher order than the right of life. That was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence of slaves on the plantation because that was private [property] and therefore outside of your right to be concerned.” (His name was Jesse Jackson, but that was before he decided to run for president, and changed his position.)

So, in the 1980s, in my weekly column in the Village Voice, I openly and clearly declared myself to be pro-life. That was—and still is—the most controversial position I’ve taken.

 

Do yourself a favor and read an essay or two. (Betcha can’t stop at one.) You’ll go back for more. You won’t always agree with him, but you’ll recognize his courage and commitment. You’ll be challenged.

Be careful about sharing his work with young people. Very dangerous stuff there. Look what it did to me.


 

“Euthanasia Deception” screening 1/21 in Rochester

I’ve seen & recommend this film, The Euthanasia Deception, produced by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Rochester-area readers have a chance to see it January 21 at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary church in Rochester, New Hampshire. Details are in the PDF embedded below.

Download (PDF, Unknown)