No contest: this year’s rock stars have been the staff, volunteers, and board members of New Hampshire agencies that offer pro-life assistance and support to pregnant and parenting women.
This odd year calls for an unusual best-of list. I won’t list multiple categories or runners-up. Pregnancy care centers have swept the board, as far as I’m concerned. They are committed to being effective and abortion-free.
Here’s a link to contact information for the agencies I know about. There’s probably one near you, if you’re a Granite Stater. (I welcome corrections and updates.)
Service in a challenging year
In an abortion-friendly economic and social environment – the COVID-19 pandemic, economic upheaval, and a shortage of housing options – these are the people who have kept going with critical human services work. Most have done so without benefit of customary annual fundraisers, as one event after another fell victim this year to COVID cancellation.
As if offering practical assistance isn’t enough, these agencies have to follow laws and regulations that let them stay in business. With or without a pandemic, someone has to file the IRS forms, report to donors, make sure the charitable-trust paperwork is in order with the state, and pay attention to local zoning requirements.
Some agencies are part of national or international ministries; Birthright and CareNet come to mind. Some, like St. Gianna’s Place, are home-grown. Others operate under the umbrella of a larger organization, as Our Place works within Catholic Charities. Some agencies are probably operating under my radar (and I hope to learn more about them).
“Agency” sounds impersonal. Perhaps “team” is a better word. Each individual team member brings a gift, an experience, a talent to the table. It takes the right mix of talents to bring a team to life.
These teams serve families all over New Hampshire, from pregnancy through the early years of parenting. Specific missions vary. What unifies them is commitment to the value of human life.
What you can do
Every agency relies on donor support. They’re all hurting this year, with cancellations of things like annual fundraising banquets and Mother’s Day flower sales. No matter your location or the specific mission you’d like to support, you can find an agency whose clients could benefit from your generosity, however much or little you can afford.
Find out if there’s a “wish list” on the agency’s website. Even one package of diapers can help keep a closet stocked.
Go on whatever social media platform you favor, and look for pages or accounts for New Hampshire pregnancy care centers. That’s where you’re likely to find the most up-to-date information about needs and services. Share what you find.
Is your local team looking for volunteers, staff, or board members? Then it’s time for prayerful discernment. Maybe there’s a place for you.
I’m filled with gratitude for everyone who plays a role in a pro-life human services ministry. In a year where inspiration has been in short supply, you’ve inspired me.
Paid employment and blogging-for-the-love-of-it don’t always mix, as attested by the long stretches between posts this year on Leaven. I’ll start my 2019 review with a resolution for 2020: up my game. I’m as grateful for my readers as I am for clients.
In the last few days of the year, I’ll have an update on some New Hampshire life-issue bills filed for 2020. We’ll take a look at state-level races to be decided in next November’s election. I’ll throw in a few save-the-dates for 40 Days for Life activities and similar events. You’ll see links to some useful websites and apps. All this will be posted by midnight on New Year’s Eve, if all goes well.
“A safe harbor for mother and child,” says the organization’s tagline. It’s that, and more: a reminder to me that practical tenacity and seemingly-impractical faith are both essential when human beings are trying to care for each other.
The founders of St. Gianna’s knew they wanted to create a shelter for otherwise-homeless pregnant and parenting women in south-central New Hampshire. They created a board. They raised funds. They had a plan. One thing kept eluding them: an actual facility. The same real estate market that challenges aspiring homeowners in this area challenged the St. Gianna’s team.
2019 saw a breakthrough, with a church in Hudson making an unoccupied building available. To make a long story short – and in the process, to gloss over the efforts of many volunteers – St. Gianna’s Place is now up and running.
I take heart and encouragement from every person who helped make that happen. You can, too.
Read more about St. Gianna’s Place on its website. There will be an ongoing need for donations and volunteers in support of the women and children served at St. Gianna’s Place.
Meeting a human-services need means coming up with more than just good intentions. The team behind St. Gianna’s Place has been up to the challenge.
A New Year’s toast: to life! Thank you to the readers who have sustained Leaven for the Loaf, and thank you to everyone whose pro-life work has kept me inspired and challenged all along the way. Join me now as I pack away some artifacts of the year just ended.
It’s a mixed bag of topics for the most-viewed posts of 2018.
Gosnell: Film Review. In the hands of an inept screenwriter or the wrong director, this true-crime story could have gone badly awry. The makers of Gosnell got it right. The film will be coming to on-demand video and DVD in early 2019.
But Wait, There’s More. This was a brief report on an ill-advised bill that would have nullified New Hampshire’s parental notification law. The House later killed the bill.
Trust Women, You Say? Start Here. Coverage of January’s hearing on a bill, HB 1707, that would have established comprehensive informed consent requirements for abortion.
A Genteel Rant on Party Unity. In which I’m reminded (yet again) that political-party-linked activism is not always helpful in building a culture of life.
Abortion Statistics: “Inexpedient to Legislate.” “Two hundred [N.H.] legislators voted like people who are afraid of evidence-based public health policy and afraid of political retribution from abortion providers.” Another statistics bill has been introduced for 2019.
Slamming Shut a Doorway to Assisted Suicide. A state senator let slip that her proposed study committee on end-of-life issues was actually a path to an assisted suicide law. Her fellow senators took her at her word and killed her bill. A similar bill is on the way for the coming legislative session.
Why I’m Voting No on Question 2. A ballot question about adding a “privacy” amendment to the state constitution passed, not long after I posted this cautionary message. Time will tell if my concerns had merit.
I reported from the state and national Marches for Life in 2018, and I plan to do the same in 2019. On January 12, less than two weeks from now, you can attend any portion of the day-long program of events that accompany the march in Concord. The March for Life in Washington will be held the following Friday, January 18.
2018 brought two more 40 Days for Life campaigns. The next one is coming up in a little over a month, and you’ll be hearing more from me about that in the coming days.
I went to St. Louis, Missouri for the third annual Pro-Life Women’s Conference last June. The first PLWC in 2016 was organized by Abby Johnson and the team at And Then There Were None. Since then, the conference has grown to include a diverse group of speakers and attendees guaranteed to broaden the horizons of anyone working in the pro-life movement. For just one example, read the message from one of this year’s featured speakers, Savannah Marten: “We find the tables we need to be sitting at.”
For media in 2018, the Gosnell film is in a class by itself. For short video, I was glad to find and share “Desperate Measures” by Sidewalk Advocates for Life. Featuring former abortion workers who are now committed pro-lifers, the video is a direct response to recent sit-ins and “rescues” at abortion facilities. The message is don’t do it – and here’s the better way to carry out peaceful pro-life witness.
I’ll be back at the State House to report on 2019 legislation including buffer zone repeal, abortion statistics, and death penalty repeal. I’ll venture to claim that since 2012, no other New Hampshire blog has covered life-issue bills in Concord to the extent attempted by this little enterprise called Leaven for the Loaf. I aim to keep it going.
When my travels lead me to inspirational people and places, you’ll hear about them.
Over a year ago, I had intended to publish an anthology of Leaven posts – and I’m glad I didn’t! The manuscript was not ready for prime time. In 2019, on a much more modest scale than first envisioned, the anthology will be ready.
As longtime readers will have noticed, Facebook and Twitter became significant extensions of the blog in 2018, especially during coverage of marches and conferences. If you’re not following those social media feeds yet, I invite you to do so.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ll strive to keep providing you with good informative reading. I couldn’t do this without your support. Thanks for following along!
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Along with busloads of fellow Granite Staters, I beat the blizzard out of Washington (barely!) just after the national March for Life.
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 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.)
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.
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.
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.