Notes from NH’s 2014 March for Life

NH March For Life 2014 - 1

Snow was falling steadily by the time New Hampshire’s 2014 March for Life got started on January 18. No big deal. This is northern New England. We’ve had colder days for the March; I once held the microphone for the keynote speaker when the temperature was 15 degrees and the speeches all took place on the State House steps instead of the St. John the Evangelist parish hall.

The annual event always begins with a brief service at the Concord landfill, memorializing the preborn children whose remains were found there in 1988. I was unable to attend this year’s service, but I spoke later in the day with Pastor Garrett Lear, who led the day’s prayers at the landfill. He told me 45 people came to the 9 a.m. service. That’s an exceptional turnout for this low-key gathering that seldom draws as much coverage as the March itself.

By 11 a.m., people began to gather on the State House plaza. Some came from church services. There were students, retirees, and families with kids in strollers.

Along the way, we were directed under the terms of the event permit to avoid walking in front of the Feminist Health Center at the corner of Main and Thompson. That meant going around a block, which served to emphasize the size of the March.

Rep. Dan Itse, speaking after the march, explained the legislative process
Rep. Dan Itse, speaking after the march, explained the legislative process
Rep. Candace Bouchard (white vest) kept an eye on pro-life marchers
Rep. Candace Bouchard (white vest) kept an eye on pro-life marchers

I counted six states reps among the pro-lifers on Saturday: Reps. Jane Cormier, Gary Hopper, Dan Itse, David Murotake, Jeanine Notter, and Lenette Peterson. A fellow marcher told me she spotted Rep. Bob Willette in the crowd as well. On the other side, in a manner of speaking, was Rep. Candace Bouchard, who stood with abortion supporters at the Feminist Health Center displaying signs of their own.

While the march was going on, some folks were setting up display tables, seats, and lunch at St. John the Evangelist Church where the post-march program was held. Every year, a terrific crew of volunteers provides lunch for all comers, including hot soup. I was a huge fan of the soup the other day, after not wearing gloves for most of the walk so that I could take pictures along the way.

Lunch was ready after the march.
Lunch was ready after the march.
Sidewalk across Main Street from the Feminist Health Center ...
Sidewalk across Main Street from the Feminist Health Center …
...with "love your neighbor" set into the pavement.
…with “love your neighbor” set into the pavement.

With a buffer-zone bill now under consideration in Concord, I looked at where law-abiding pro-life witnesses might go if a 25-foot gag zone were to be imposed around the Feminist Health Center. Look what I found: a brand-new building across the street, with a wide sidewalk that has a “love your neighbor” message set into the pavement.

Jeanneane Maxon of AUL was a wonderful keynote speaker, giving us encouraging news about the progress of pro-life legislation around the country. Rep. Itse gave an impromptu lesson in how a bill becomes law, pointing out the ways New Hampshire residents can influence the process. Dianne Hunt, a nurse practitioner, gave a brief introduction to Humanae Vitae Family Healthcare in Londonderry, where she and her team provide what she calls “state of the art, moral, evidence-based family health and fertility care.” (I find this a very exciting development, knowing from my own experience that OB/GYN practitioners who reject abortion and artificial fertility management are extremely rare.) The whole event was sponsored by New Hampshire Right to Life, which generously provided space for information tables and gave a few minutes to anyone who wanted a turn at the mic to promote a project.

Back next year? You bet.

Author: Ellen Kolb

New Hampshire-based writer, activist, hiker.

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