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.



 

Marching for Science (Including Biology)

Coming soon: the “March for Science,” actually numerous local Marches for Science, scheduled to take place Saturday, April 22. There will be New Hampshire versions in Concord and Portsmouth. From the event’s web site: “We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.”


Okay, then – how about the evidence that human beings in utero are truly human beings? That would lead to some policies in the public interest.

Rehumanize International is up to the challenge. Members of the group will be attending various Marches for Science, carrying a pro-life message: “a human’s life begins at the moment of fertilization.”

Image courtesy of Rehumanize International

The reception given to that message will tell me a lot about how much the March is really about science.

If you’d like to support the pro-life effort, Rehumanize International is selling “March for Science” kits for $10, with April 19 the last day to order them. I have no financial interest in the project; it’s just something that ought to get plenty of attention.

I like Rehumanize International’s hash tag for the March: #proscienceprolife. I think I’ll be pushing that one on the 22nd. Feel free to join me.

Image in this post is from Rehumanize International’s Facebook page.

 

Health care conscience rights: as Sweden goes…?

In November 2015, I posted the words of Ellinor Grimmark, a Swedish midwife under fire for declining to participate in abortions.

”As a midwife, I want to exercise a profession which defends life and saves lives at all cost. Are healthcare practitioners in Sweden to be forced to take part in procedures that extinguish life, at its beginning or final stages? Somebody has to take the little children’s side, somebody has to fight for their right to life. A midwife described to me how she had held an aborted baby in her arms, still alive, and cried desperately for an hour while the baby struggled to breathe. These children do not even have a right to pain relief. I cannot take part in this.”

Ms. Grimmark went to court to get her job back. Now, a year and a half later, a Swedish court has determined that Ms. Grimmark did not suffer discrimination, nor had authorities violated her freedom of expression (BBC report here). It’s OK in Sweden to require health care professionals to participate in abortions as a condition of employment.

And that works, as far as a spokeswoman for “Sweden’s Health Professionals” is concerned: “[P]eople seeking care should not have to think about your own opinions”.

Think it couldn’t happen here? Think again. New Hampshire has no law protecting the conscience rights of medical professionals. Bills to change that have elicited testimony from abortion supporters that sounds a lot like the statement from the Swedish Health Professionals.

Watch Sweden, and take note.


 

40 Days for Life Spring 2017 Comes to an End

The Equality Center is dark and unoccupied in the late evening, with only a few signs standing sentinel outside: Civility, Compassion, Love. Stop Sidewalk Bullying. Legal Abortion IS Pro-life.  There’s no competition for parking spaces. Traffic is minimal – a startling thing, for someone who knows the city only from the hours when the legislature is in session a few blocks up the road.

In that tranquil midnight setting, with no fanfare and no confrontation, the city’s Spring 2017 40 Days for Life campaign drew to a close.

Final vigil hour, 40DFL Spring 2017, Concord NH

Students, Knights of Columbus, an Anglican priest, and a few of us with no particular affiliation were among the people joining campaign leader Beth Gaby for an hour of quiet prayer for everyone who goes in and out of the abortion facility, whether clients, workers, or contractors.

Beth brought 40DFL back to a city that had gone without a campaign for awhile. She had some challenges. One local Equality Center abortion supporter took to Facebook regarding 40DFL: “Victory is….intimidating clinic protestors [sic] to the point they get in their car and leave.”

Beth must have known from the vigil schedule which 40DFL participants were the targets of the angry woman. Beth’s response was to join those participants during their next scheduled hour.  One of those participants later brought two more people with her to pray. The moral support was contagious.

Greenland

A few hours before the Concord vigil, the Greenland, New Hampshire 40DFL team gathered for a closing rally, followed by prayer in front of the Lovering Center. The 40DFL volunteers took advantage of a splendid 70-degree spring day. Campaign leader Jackie McCoy sent an email afterward to supporters, including those who had been unable to attend.

“Thank you to all of you who have prayed, fasted and witnessed to life, from your homes and on the sidewalk. I got to speak with some of you at today’s closing rally, and I am always so impressed, and blessed by your steadfast support of 40 Days for Life, and the compassion you have for the unborn, their mothers, and also for those who oppose you.”

Jackie mentioned encouraging things from the campaign, including friendliness from a Center worker and increased news coverage in local media.

I’ve been a guest speaker at Greenland 40DFL in the past, and I am always touched by the warmth of the local team. Every rally wraps up with a “tailgate party” of sorts, with coffee and snacks, followed by a delivery of treats to the New Generation home across the street.

Until Next Time

The next 40 Days for Life campaign will begin September 27. There’s plenty of time to discern whether it’s your turn to step up to lead a campaign in Manchester, Concord, or Greenland.

In the meantime,  Cathy from the Pray for Life Center in Manchester invites pro-life witnesses to prayer vigils outside Planned Parenthood’s Manchester office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is not a 40 Days for Life campaign, but rather a year-round effort. See the Pray for Life Center’s Facebook page for more information.

See also this list of agencies providing direct, no-cost services to pregnant and parenting women in need of resources. Your support and your presence keep them going.



A small step in the right direction: less tax money to UNFPA

Cross-posted from my piece on DaTechGuy Blog, 4/5/17.

President Trump’s State Department has told the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to get along without U.S. financial support. There are people who think this is a bad idea. I’m not one of them. Neither is Reggie Littlejohn.

Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers (Photo by Ellen Kolb)

I met Reggie very briefly a couple of years ago, when we were speakers at a pro-life convention in New Hampshire. My job was to talk about effective use of social media. Reggie’s job was to talk about China’s coercive abortion policy. She got better billing – and deserved it. Her stories were compelling and persuasive.

She became interested in Chinese policy when as an attorney she represented a Chinese woman seeking political asylum in the United States. It was Reggie’s first exposure to the wretched effects of the One-Child Policy: forced abortion, forced sterilization, and gender imbalance as boys are more valued culturally than girls. The revelations changed her life. She later established Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an international coalition dedicated to fighting forced abortion in China.

Wherever she speaks, she points out the support China’s policies have received from UNFPA. She has called repeatedly for U.S. de-funding of the organization. She released a statement the other day when de-funding was finally announced.

“We are thrilled that the U.S. is no longer funding forced abortion and involuntary sterilization in China.  The blood of Chinese women and babies will no longer be on our hands. My very first press release, in 2009, was entitled ‘You Are Funding Forced Abortions in China.‘ I have consistently advocated for the defunding of UNFPA over the years…

“The UNFPA clearly supports China’s population control program, which they know is coercive. Under China’s One (now Two) Child Policy, women have been forcibly aborted up to the ninth month of pregnancy. Some of these forced abortions have been so violent that the women themselves have died, along with their full term babies. There have been brutal forced sterilizations as well, butchering women and leaving them disabled. Where was the outcry from the UNFPA? In my opinion, silence in the face of such atrocities is complicity.   Dr. Martin Luther King once said, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ The UNFPA’s silence in the face of decades of forced abortion has been a sword in the wombs of millions of women and babies of China. I rejoice with them that the foot of the UNFPA is finally off of their necks.”

Read the rest of the post at DaTechGuy Blog.

“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.

a Granite State pro-life blog by Ellen Kolb