How to Lie with Statistics

Thank you, Marc Barnes, for questioning abortion statistics provided by the Guttmacher Institute. Read his recent post on how Guttmacher manipulated numbers in a Mexican study to link “unsafe” abortions and maternal deaths.

Ironically, some states including New Hampshire refuse to mandate collection of abortion statistics: how many women seek them, whether there are adverse effects, where the abortions are done, and who does them, for starters. All reporting is voluntary here in the Granite State. The Guttmacher Institute’s NH figures are obtained from Planned Parenthood affiliates and are accepted without scrutiny by legislative committees, as I have seen time and again.

The fact is that none of us knows how many women are dying or suffering irreparable harm due to abortion, whether legal or illegal. I believe each of these women deserves respect and truth, and so do the people who love them.  Policymakers and the medical community need accurate data. No one works harder than abortion providers to keep them from getting it.

Fortunately, writers like Marc Barnes and agencies like the Charlotte Lozier Institute are pressing to discover the truth. More power to them.

Back to Concord; Komen/PP webcast; Happy Advent

The 2013-14 New Hampshire legislature was sworn in this morning, with House Speaker Terie Norelli (D-Portsmouth) urging an end to “harshness.”  Regular business starts in January. Reps and senators have until this Friday, December 7, to submit proposed bills (LSRs, or legislative service requests). Yes, I’m watching.

No surprises in either House or Senate leadership. Dems run the House, Republicans run the Senate, no quarrels about who gets to wield the gavels (Norelli in the House, Sen. Peter Bragdon of Milford in the Senate).

Yesterday, the House Republican Alliance elected Reps. Pam Tucker of Greenland, Al Baldasaro of Londonderry, and Carol McGuire of Epsom as co-chairs. This conservative & decidedly unofficial group was extremely effective in the minority two sessions ago. I look forward to their weekly “pink sheets” again.

I chatted at length this morning with Pastor Garrett Lear, who (so I hear) gave a remarkable opening prayer at this morning’s Executive Council meeting. I should have been there instead of fruitlessly searching for a seat in the packed House gallery.  Pastor Lear and I have been in NH’s pro-life trenches for years now numbering in the decades. We spoke of loyal opposition and about being in the minority – hardly a new place for either of us! Minorities, like majorities, are temporary. Pro-life work, as with other development of our culture, goes on no matter who’s in charge.

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Which brings me to the news that I have returned to Cornerstone, or rather Cornerstone has returned to me as a client. I’m very happy to be back at the State House & the LOB to lobby, track bills, listen to hearings, and suchlike. Cornerstone is on the verge of announcing a new Executive Director, and I won’t spill the beans here except to say I’m looking forward to working for her.

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The Family Research Council is having a webcast on the 13th with Karen Handel, the former Komen for the Cure executive who has gone public on the messy and outrageous details behind Planned Parenthood’s arm-twisting of Komen. Find & read Handel’s book Planned Bullyhood, if you haven’t already done so. Terrible (though accurate) title, compelling story.

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From the Diocese of Manchester web site:

Join over 300 people from NH traveling to Washington, DC for the March for Life and Pilgrimage of Faith from January 24-25, 2013. Limited spaces for packages with transportation and hotel are available. For more information, e-mail Valerie_lynn_somers@comcast.net or visit www.catholicnh.org/life.

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Observing Advent is an annual act of cultural defiance for me. Working retail for a few years made me appreciate how terrible is the  rhythm of a two-month “Christmas” season that begins with Halloween and stops with a dead thud on December 26. Ste. Marie’s in Manchester NH had a wonderful Lessons and Carols service the other day. If a church in your area has such a program, check it out. Now if only I could find something like that the week after Christmas, which is after all during the real Christmas season. In the meantime, happy Advent!

My December Lists: Gratitude & Favorites

Why not “My Christmas Lists”? Because it’s Advent, silly.

Four retiring (for now) elected officials from New Hampshire who deserve a lot more credit than they’ll ever seek:

  • Executive Councilor Dan St. Hilaire (R-Concord), whose votes on Title X contracts put him into a spotlight he never sought but refused to dodge. 
  • Senator Fenton Groen (R-Rochester), who stepped down to concentrate on his family-run business. A more compassionate man would be tough to find.
  • Rep. Sue DeLemus (R- Rochester), who lost her re-election bid. Her own experience as a post-abortive woman informed every vote she cast on the life issues. She brooked no nonsense when anyone in the room started up about “choice” when what was meant was “abortion.”
  • Rep. Kathy Lauer-Rago (R-Franklin), who chose not to run again, preferring to put future efforts into school choice initiatives. Among other things, she co-sponsored informed consent legislation as well as a resolution commending pregnancy care centers.

Two candidates I hope I’ll hear from again: Debi Warner and Michael Tierney, just because they both have good humor and tenacity to spare.  Dr. Warner, a psychologist from Littleton, ran unsuccessfully for the state senate in district 1. She’s a gem and a credit to her district. Tierney, a pro-life attorney, ran for Executive Council in a district that was drawn to make roadkill out of any Republican nominee, as I described here .  He got 42% of the vote as a first-time candidate.

Candidates I hope I never hear from again: Nope. Not going there. This is about gratitude.

One newly-elected state representative I’ll be watching: Jane Cormier. This lady is fasten-your-seat-belt material. Watch & be amazed at her July 17 speech at the Values Bus tour in Concord.

New Hampshire’s most underrated pro-life activists of 2012: The students of the College of Saint Mary Magdalen in Warner. They made my day anytime they came to Concord with their public, polite, unapologetic witness for life. I tip my hat to College president Dr. George Harne.

Events that encouraged me this year:

  • All three religious freedom rallies held in Concord.
  • The first meeting with other charter school parents after the state Board of Ed started playing games with funding this fall. Kate Baker‘s determination is an amazing phenomenon. Read about her work with NEO New Hampshire .

Three books I loved this year:

  • Peace, They Say by Jay Nordlinger,  about the Nobel Peace Prize and its winners – some deserving, some outrageous, some nearly forgotten. Smooth writing, enlightening reading.
  • Unplanned by Abby Johnson, which has pride of place as the first book I bought for my Kindle. Johnson walked away from the abortion industry, after spending years defending it. Some of her most incisive comments are about the pro-lifers she encountered along the way, not all of whom did their cause credit.
  • 50 Hikes North of the White Mountains by Kim Nilsen, about which I’ve already raved in my Granite State Walker blog.

Three sites I bookmarked this year:

  • Conscience Cause (www.consciencecause.com) was created by defenders of religious liberty moved to action by the HHS mandate. The site is simple and straightforward, and it explains the mandate while providing links to more information.
  • Patheos (www.patheos.com) claims to be “hosting the conversation on faith.”  It’s a sprawling, rowdy web site with something to engage and enrage everyone. There are diamonds in the dust, though, and about once a week I find something particularly thought-provoking.
  • National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com) is my favorite site for news and commentary, because that’s where I can get Jay Nordlinger & Jonah Goldberg & Kathryn Lopez all in one place.

Three things I can celebrate now that the 2012 campaign is over:

  • Family dinners. I now could honestly sit at my dinner table with a bowl of corn flakes and love it as long as it’s with my family.
  • Reading the paper. I mean real made-from-trees paper. I get plenty of my news online, but with the campaign’s time crunches, that was my only way to stay current. The Saturday after the election, I sat at my kitchen table with the Union Leader and the weekend Wall Street Journal and spent an unhurried hour reading them. What a splendid luxury.
  • Going to Mass at my home parish, since I’m no longer in a different town every weekend.
  • And all of the above must be qualified with “…until next time.”

The Mandate Gets Attention From an Unexpected Source

The Mandate Gets Attention From an Unexpected Source

Leaven has never before linked to Politico, of all news sites, but it recently posted this interesting article about the Patient “Protection” and “Affordable” Care Act. Obamacare’s attack on religious liberty via the HHS mandate deserves this scrutiny. The lawsuits against the mandate are mounting in spite of the Supreme Court’s astounding decision upholding PPACA. 

“Women’s health vs. free exercise of religion” is a ridiculous section heading, but Politico’s editors are hardly the only people who consider opposition to the mandate to be an attack on women’s health. Even so, their overview of the lawsuits challenging the mandate is going to bring the debate to people who haven’t considered both sides until now. I give high marks to that effort.

To DC in January for Roe+40

Roe v. Wade turns 40 in eight short weeks. I just got my ticket for a quick trip down to Washington for the March for Life on January 25. The March is an annual event, but it’s been many years since I was able to go. The expense is a factor. The White House is still occupied by a Roe supporter, though, and he needs to see that Roe isn’t settled, even after four decades, no matter what he hears from advisors or donors or even Sen. McCain.

I went to the March in 1993, the 20-year anniversary, on a day when newly-inaugurated President Clinton was featured on the morning news shows signing executive orders rolling back pro-life policies. By noon that day, I was marching with tens of thousands of people, including an astonishing number of high school and college students whose presence lifted my spirits sky-high.

The March will do more than serve notice to President Obama that we’re watching. It’ll give thousands of people a chance to be renewed and encouraged in their defense of life. It might even show Republicans a thing or two.

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Abby Johnson posted an update today about And Then There Were None, her ministry to abortion workers who want to leave the industry. See my earlier post here.  Johnson reports that business is brisk for ATTWN, and resources are too limited. This is a ministry worth supporting.

ATTWN’s update includes a report about a judge telling one abortion-industry refugee to “get over it” when she told him she would not return to abortion work, no matter how lucrative. Thanks to ATTWN’s supporters, she is getting over it – just not in the way the judge anticipated.