Notes on 2017

Looking back on the year from my blogger’s perch, I see lots of people who have inspired me in great and little ways. I hope I’ve passed that inspiration on to you, through that what I’ve written about them along the way.

Sarah and Griffin’s Law: Finally, N.H. Has a Fetal Homicide Law

The front page of the December 29 New Hampshire Union Leader has a most satisfying headline.

 

Headline: fetal homicide law now on the books in N.H.
N.H. Union Leader headline, 12/29/17: fetal homicide law now on the books.

For close to two decades, state legislators – particularly Kathy Souza of Manchester, who was working on this long before she was elected to the House – had tried to pass fetal homicide legislation, recognizing unborn victims of violence and allowing prosecutors to bring charges accordingly. For five years on this blog, I wrote about attempts to pass such a law and why the law was necessary. 

Then came the family of Griffin Kenison. They pushed hard for a law. They were rebuffed. They kept coming back – mother and father and grandparents and extended family – and they pushed again. They were joined by the family of Sarah Crucitti, who pushed right along with Griffin’s family. Last June, both families stood by Governor Chris Sununu as he signed the law named for their children.

He would have had nothing to sign had those families not fought the way they did.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful to every persistent legislator who co-sponsored fetal homicide legislation over the years, and to the House and Senate members who voted the right way. I acknowledge that Governor Sununu followed through on his pledge to sign a fetal homicide bill if one came to his desk.

And with all that, I trust that the governor and the legislators won’t think too unkindly of me when I say that where Sarah and Griffin’s Law is concerned, the families are my heroes.

Honorable Mentions

The board of St. Gianna’s Place, engaged in the tough work of launching a new shelter for pregnant and parenting women. I hope that by this time next year, they’ll have a house. You can help.

Darlene Pawlik, for her work against human trafficking this year (as if her work with Save the 1 weren’t enough). She was instrumental in organizing a much-needed briefing for legislators.

Executive Councilor Dave Wheeler, for consistently upholding the idea that taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing any abortion provider.

Beth Gaby, Jackie McCoy, and Sheila DePuydt for leading peaceful, prayerful 40 Days for Life campaigns in Concord, Greenland, and Manchester.

Cathy Kelley and her year-round prayer partners outside PP’s Manchester office – not only for peaceful persistence, but also for reporting from the scene.

Catholic Medical Center and Sarah Bascle, M.D., for opening the Women’s Wellness and Fertility Center at CMC.

I wish I knew the names of all the staffers and volunteers at the pregnancy care centers statewide. Look up the center nearest you and thank them yourself, and then ask how you can help.

From One Year Ago, My Questions for 2017 – and the Answers

Will the House and Senate see their way to passing abortion statistics and fetal homicide bills, which are being introduced once again? Stats no, fetal homicide yes. A stats bill was held over last spring and will get a House vote January 3 or 4.

Will Governor-elect Sununu follow through on his pledge to support legislation on (among other things) fetal homicide, buffer zone repeal, conscience rights, and a ban on late-term abortion? Or was his statement of support not a pledge? He signed fetal homicide – the only one of these proposed bills that got to his desk.

Will abortion providers finally enforce the buffer zone law they fought to get?  No.

Will  the incoming presidential Administration drive a stake through the heart of the HHS/contraceptive mandate, or will women’s fertility still be considered a disease under whatever might replace the “Affordable” Care Act?  And speaking of the mandate, will the federal government finally leave the Little Sisters of the Poor alone? President Trump exempted the Little Sisters outright from the mandate last spring, and broadened exemptions to it in October. A small good step, but not exactly what I call driving a stake, since the mandate itself is still on the books.

Will the incoming President take pro-life policy seriously, and will the pro-lifers who supported him give him what he deserves if he doesn’t?  I’ll give him this much: he takes the pro-lifers who supported him seriously. He has taken steps to reduce taxpayer funding of abortions (including reducing funding to a U.N. agency complicit in forced-abortion policies in China). I’m glad it’s not Hillary Clinton making Supreme Court appointments, but I’ll withhold my raves about Neal Gorsuch until I see how he actually votes. 

How will coverage of the March for Life compare to coverage of the planned January   “women’s march” in DC that will apparently have no place for pro-life women? Ditto for the state level. I’m tellin’ ya, pro-lifers should have invented pink hats with catchy names years ago. But it sure was fun to see so much news coverage of the uproar arising from the fact that “women’s march” organizers “disinvited” a pro-life group.  As a result, New Wave Feminists got a huge boost in visibility and support, and Abby Johnson and And Then There Were None showed up as well.  As for the state level, well…we learned (again) to jump on media outlets’ inaccurate reports of attendance. The corrections might be on an inside page, but we do what we can.

Best Book

Gosnell, by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer. From my April review: “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.'”

Prediction for 2018 About Which I Hope I’m Wrong

The Republican majority in Concord is not a pro-life majority; otherwise, buffer zone repeal and abortion stats would have passed last spring. One could argue that where the life issues are concerned, there’s no difference between parties. That’s not true, but I understand the frustration that fosters such a notion. The GOP still at least has a platform acknowledging the right to life.

But here’s what I think could happen next November: a loss of 20 pro-life seats in the N.H. House. One reason, though not the only one: Democrats will ensure that Republicans are tied to presidential tweets.

I shall return to this the day after the November 2018 election, and I’ll cheerfully (and figuratively) eat crow if circumstances so dictate.

Happy 2018! 

I’ll strive to keep providing you with good informative reading. I couldn’t do this without your support. Thanks for following along! 

2016 in review: who leavened the loaf this year?

Politics dominated the news including this blog in 2016. As the year ends, though, I find that what sticks in my mind the most is my visit to Pathways pregnancy care center in Littleton back in April. I went to learn more about the new ultrasound service offered there. The real story turned out to be the extent of the services already in place, aside from the limited ultrasounds.

By welcoming me to see their ministry, the Pathways team reminded me that pro-life activism takes many forms, not all of them political.

Greatest inspiration: pro-life pregnancy support centers

The staff and volunteers at all of New Hampshire’s pro-life pregnancy support centers brought me encouragement and inspiration in a challenging year.  I am indebted to Lesley Wotten of Pathways, who introduced me to her staff in Littleton and opened my eyes to the full range of services Pathways provides in the North Country.

 

Birthright, Care Net and its affiliates, Pennacook Pregnancy Center, Our Place: all over New Hampshire, people are working to provide the support a pregnant woman might need in order to choose life for her child.

“Crisis” pregnancy center has become a misnomer. A woman or girl who comes in at a moment of crisis or indecision might be looking for options counseling or simply someone to listen. For today’s pro-life pregnancy care centers, that’s just the beginning. Depending on the size and resources of the center, referrals for medical care are available. Assistance with housing might be in order. Parenting classes or referrals for them can be offered. Every center has a supply of diapers and clothes and furniture, offering practical day-to-day support after the children are born.

Fathers are not left out, as I was reminded at Pathways. Parenting classes are in demand, and the centers that offer them welcome dads as well as moms.

Anyone can be part of this work by volunteering or making donations. Make that a resolution for 2017.


 

Honorable mention: pro-life education programs (hold the politics!)

The Concord-Manchester-Nashua area gets most of the press where life issues are concerned. There are educational and non-political programs and projects going on outside that Everett Turnpike  corridor, though. Here are a few.

Kudos to the Knights of Columbus Council 7572 in Windham, St. Matthew parish, which sponsors a monthly Respect Life speaker series covering a range of life issues. Presentations are open to the public. The Council will soon announce its slate of speakers for 2017.

Works of Mercy ministry at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish in Windham offers films and speakers. Coming up January 21: a screening of The Euthanasia Deception, a video produced by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. For more information, email worksofmercy@gmail.com.

Of long standing, but often under the radar, is the New Hampshire Right to Life Educational Trust. Resources include a speaker’s bureau, a library of life-issue resources, and Life Lights scholarships (application deadline for the next round is May 1, 2017).

My thanks to all. Politics is in my wheelhouse, so to speak, but this has been a year to cheer for all the good things going on far from the political arena.

My favorite events: a snowy March for Life, upbeat witness outside PP, the first Pro-Life Women’s Conference

I was out of the country on the January day for New Hampshire’s March for Life, and I was glad to see coverage via NHRTL’s Facebook page – a good resource, by the way.

Sister Mary Rose Reddy at March for Life, DC (photo by Ellen Kolb)

Along with busloads of fellow Granite Staters, I beat the blizzard out of Washington (barely!) just after the national March for Life.

Photo by Jeffrey Bruno/Aleteia.com via The March for Life Facebook page

In April, a national pro-life Day of Witness outside Planned Parenthood offices inspired New Hampshire residents to gather in Manchester and Derry.

Witnessing for life in Manchester

Abby Johnson brought together an amazing array of groups under the umbrella of the first Pro-Life Women’s Conference. Thanks to support from readers, I was able to attend and report from the site. I plan to be in Orlando next June for the second edition.

Speaking of Abby Johnson: the year’s most popular Leaven for the Loaf tweet

The Executive Council asserts itself – and produces a new Governor

The Executive Council gave Planned Parenthood our money. I may have mentioned that a few times this year (as in New Hampshire Executive Council reinstates PP $$$).

The so-called swing vote was Chris Sununu, who is now governor-elect, having finished in November barely ahead of fellow councilor Colin Van Ostern. Sununu assured voters shortly before the general election that he opposes public funding of abortion. That doesn’t stop him from supporting public funding for abortion providers. (I just deleted a snarky remark about that. Must be Christmas-season goodwill on my part.)

From June 2016: Executive Councilors and gubernatorial candidates Chris Sununu (with contracts) and Colin VanOstern (at right).

Councilor Joe Kenney, recently re-elected to his post, voted against PP funding but in favor of a much smaller contract with another abortion provider. I’m grateful for the PP vote, and I’m happy that he survived a third electoral challenge from a man who considers abortion to be health care and who has no trouble with public funding of PP.

Councilor Dave Wheeler remains a stalwart pro-life public servant whose votes, statements, and diligent research in 2016 came as no surprise to the voters in district 5. He was re-elected to the Council last month.

No abortion stats or fetal homicide law, despite a Republican legislature

“Republican” and “pro-life” are not synonymous, as the New Hampshire House and Senate proved once again. Even abortion statistics and fetal homicide, measures that would not affect Roe v. Wade or the right to life, did not pass this year.

In possibly-related news, the same House and Senate leaders from the past term are in place for 2017-18.

Questions for 2017

Will the House and Senate see their way to passing stats and fetal homicide bills, which are being introduced once again?

Will Governor-elect Sununu follow through on his pledge to support legislation on (among other things) fetal homicide, buffer zone repeal, conscience rights, and a ban on late-term abortion? Or was his statement of support not a pledge?

Will abortion providers finally enforce the buffer zone law they fought to get? 40 Days for Life is coming back to Concord in the spring. We’ll see if the Equality Center (formerly Feminist Health Center) will do what PP in Manchester didn’t.

(Here’s a pre-buffer-zone-law look at the area around the Equality Center, photographed and described back when the Concord City Council considered a buffer zone petition. A zone would actually push pro-life witnesses into far more visible areas.)

Will  the incoming presidential Administration drive a stake through the heart of the HHS/contraceptive mandate, or will women’s fertility still be considered a disease under whatever might replace the “Affordable” Care Act? Note that the mandate came from an HHS regulation. It could be repealed even if the ACA remains in place. The Hobby Lobby case did not settle the matter.

And speaking of the mandate, will the federal government finally leave the Little Sisters of the Poor alone?

Will the incoming President take pro-life policy seriously, and will the pro-lifers who supported him give him what he deserves if he doesn’t? A related question nags at me: will anyone try to turn the March for Life in DC into a Trump rally? That would be a huge mistake, and I am counting on the March for Life board to guard against such nonsense.

How will coverage of the March for Life compare to coverage of the planned January 21 “women’s march” in DC that will apparently have no place for pro-life women? Ditto for the state level, where the local march for life will be on January 14.

Finally…

Remember the value of your own coverage of events that bear on the life issues. Take photos, write about what you see, and share your posts. Among others, politicians need to see your accounts.

Resolve for 2017 to support New Hampshire’s pro-life pregnancy support agencies. Resolve as well never, ever to let elected officials forget that you’re watching them.

 

Top ten posts, 2016: part 2

Leaven for the Loaf readers shared certain posts far and wide, making these five posts the most popular of 2016. (See yesterday’s post for numbers 6 through 10.)

#5: “Trojan Horse”: a veteran pro-lifer warns about an end-of-life study committee

Nancy Elliott (photo by Ellen Kolb)

When an end-of-life study committee bill (SB 426) was proposed in the New Hampshire Senate earlier this year, I asked former New Hampshire state rep and current Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA leader Nancy Elliott about the legislation. What’s wrong with a “study”?

Photo by Jeanine Notter

Elliott noted that the bill as introduced “talks about end of life choices, but singles out ‘Aid in Dying’ – a  euphemism for assisted suicide and euthanasia.  It is apparent that the ‘choice’ that this bill wants to promote is suicide.  By rolling this into a commission stacked with pro-euthanasia people, this idea can be foisted on the citizens of New Hampshire.  It gives a platform for pro-assisted suicide/euthanasia advocates to have a platform to push this with.”

#4: Aftermath: roll calls of selected New Hampshire House votes

Last March, I compiled voting records for eleven life-issue bills considered by the New Hampshire House this year, offered a few observations, and gave a thumbs-up to the reps who were consistently pro-life.

#3: Book Review: “The Walls Are Talking”

The Walls are Talking (Ignatius Press, 2016)

Abby Johnson and the team at And Then There Were None have helped more than 300 abortion workers who have chosen to leave the abortion industry and seek other employment. Johnson and her co-author Kristin Detrow share the stories of some of those workers in The Walls Are Talking. 

“Abby Johnson gives fair warning in the preface to her new book: ‘This will not be an enjoyable read. It is a necessary one, however…’ She’s right on both counts. The Walls Are Talking gives former abortion workers a voice, and what they have to say is unsettling. ‘Settled’ is not how Johnson wants to leave anyone.”

#2: State Senate candidate Bill Gannon has notable 2016 voting record

Sen. (former Rep.) William Gannon (photo from NH House web site)

Yes, Rep. Gannon had a notable pro-life voting record – and now, thanks to the voters of state senate district 23, he has just been sworn in as Senator Gannon. Congratulations and best wishes to him.

#1: On the Democratic ballot for president, Henry Hewes offers a pro-life option

Henry Hewes (photo from electhenryhewes2016.com)

By the modest standards of this New Hampshire-based blog, the popularity of this post was truly remarkable. It was published in February and continued to draw readers throughout the national presidential primary season.

“A day before the New Hampshire primary, two major Democratic candidates are campaigning hard against each other. On one point, they’re united: absolute support for unregulated abortion. [Henry] Hewes does not buy it, and he’s willing to bring a pro-life message not only to voters in New Hampshire but to other states holding primaries. ‘The primary goal of my campaign is to raise a bunch of money to do pro-life education. My family is not preparing for a move to Washington, D.C.  [I want to] raise money to run pro-life ads that are not really designed or focused around getting people to vote for Henry Hewes, but around pro-life education, educating people to what’s going on and focusing their attention on the prolife issue.'”


 

Top ten posts, 2016: part 1

Topics timely and evergreen, posts new and old: the most popular posts on Leaven for the Loaf in 2016 cover a wide range. Today begins the countdown of the posts that drew the most viewers this year. Look for part 2 tomorrow.

#10: Court rebuffs suit against buffer zone law

In March, with no abortion facility in New Hampshire willing to use the buffer zone law that abortion advocates fought so hard to get, a federal judge dismissed a suit against the law. The law had not been used, said the judge, so no one had yet suffered any actual injury from it.

Update: attorneys for the pro-life plaintiffs have appealed the March decision to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Legislatively, a bill to repeal the buffer zone law passed the House in March but failed on a tie vote in the Senate in May. Another repeal bill will be considered in 2017.

#9: “My job is to inform, not convince”

Catherine Adair (photo: harvestisabundant.blogspot.com)

This post from 2014 continues to attract readers. It’s by Catherine Adair, taken from one of her Facebook posts (and used with her permission). “While walking with my family today we were greeted by two young men wearing Planned Parenthood t-shirts trying to raise money to ‘fight back.’ I engaged one of them in conversation and was able to plant some seeds.”

Catherine describes a moment of grace: a spontaneous conversation between people who disagreed with each other but listened to each other with respect.

 

#8: Uncertain future for four bills limiting mid- and late-term abortions

New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee recommended “inexpedient to legislate” on three bills to limit mid- and late-term abortions, while making no recommendation on a fourth (a “pain-capable” bill).

Update: all four bills were killed by the full House, with the most lopsided vote coming on a bill to ban eugenic abortion. Only 66 House members thought that bill was a good idea.

#7: What the New Hampshire Democratic Party sent out on Primary Day

The state’s Democratic Party paid to mail a letter from a pro-abortion physician attacking U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte.  He conflated abortion and health care, attacked Ayotte’s attempt to address the HHS contraceptive mandate, and accused her of being insufficiently deferential to abortion providers. I posted the full text of the letter.

#6: After November, we march

I caught a fair amount of criticism (and temporarily lost some readers) when I announced mid-year that I refused to support either major party’s candidate for president. In August, I followed up with something all pro-lifers could get behind, regardless of their candidate: whoever wins the presidential election needs to see a big March for Life in Washington in January.

“Peaceful, as always, but disruptive by its sheer volume and the determination of the marchers. It wouldn’t hurt for members of Congress to see that, too, particularly the Senators who will vote on any Supreme Court nominees….Public witness to the right to life is becoming more important, not less.”

Update: I’ve got my bus reservation in hand. How about you?