40 Days of Prayer? Bring It On

Here’s one for the annals of creative protest: Six Rivers Planned Parenthood of Eureka, California is having “40 Days of Prayer” hosted by “Clergy for Choice” (see details) in response to the nationwide success of the “40 Days for Life” campaigns (about which more here).

Pro-lifers on Twitter & Facebook have expressed dismay at this effort. I say bring it on. Prayer in my experience is a powerful and unpredictable phenomenon. The results are not always what the petitioner intends. And if the California event gets some pro-lifers indignant enough to get involved in the next 40 Days for Life campaign, so much the better.

Dominick’s Law: Hearing Thursday in Concord

“Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.”

That’s the New Hampshire Supreme Court talking. The legislature might be listening. We’ll find out as HB 217 makes its way to the state senate’s Judiciary committee this week.  

“This case” is  State of New Hampshire v. Joshua Lamy, decided in 2009.  Lamy is in prison today and is likely to be there for at least the next four decades. He’s serving time for, among other things, one of the two lives he took when he smashed into a Manchester taxi at over 100 mph in 2006. He successfully appealed his conviction for the second death, arguing that in the eyes of the law, there was no crime because there was no victim.

The taxi driver, Brianna Emmons, was seven months pregnant. Her injuries and the resulting diminished blood flow to her child were severe enough to call for an emergency cesarean. She named the baby Dominick. Two weeks later, he succumbed to “perinatal asphyxia resulting from maternal abdominal trauma” (State of New Hampshire v. Joshua Lamy,  158 N.H. 511).  Those two weeks, bracketed by birth and death certificates, weren’t enough to make Dominick Emmons a victim under New Hampshire law.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision written by Justice James Duggan, went by existing New Hampshire law in overturning Lamy’s convictions for manslaughter and negligent homicide in Dominick’s death. . He refused to legislate from the bench. At the same time, as Duggan wrote in the line I quoted at the beginning of this post, the justices all recognized that existing law was inadequate.

HB 217 is a fetal homicide bill. As Justice Duggan pointed out, this concept hardly breaks new ground. It passed the House, albeit in what the original sponsor, Rep. Kathy Souza (R-Manchester), calls a “gutted” version. (Why was leadership moved to amend the original bill? Is the House Reproductive Rights Coalition that influential?)

Someone’s vote had to depend on the amendment, which changed the original bill that covered all preborn children to one that covers preborn children “24 weeks of gestation or more.” The amended bill commanded a fair majority in the House (213-125).

The committee hearing in the House brought forth people who call themselves “pro-choice”,  expressing concern that Roe v. Wade might be weakened by a fetal homicide law.  They evidently do not respect the choice made by Brianna Emmons to carry her child

Thirty states have some form of a fetal homicide law, and the last time I checked, Roe was very much in force. A fetal homicide law cannot stop a single abortion, for the simple reason that it applies only to pregnancies a mother has chosen to carry.

Drunk drivers & abusive partners can inflict pregnancy-ending injuries with literal impunity at any point in pregnancy until and unless New Hampshire passes a bill like the original version of HB 217. Think of it as Dominick’s law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is scheduled for Thursday,  April 26, at 2:30 in room 101 of the Legislative Office Building.

Bullying Works: PP Scores Komen $

A chapter of the breast-cancer-fighting Susan G. Komen foundation has given a grant to a Planned Parenthood  affiliate in Austin TX. The amount is reportedly $45,000.

By the way, Texas PP affiliates are suing over a state de-funding law. That means that even if this affiliate doesn’t do abortions, it has the money for litigation. Komen is therefore effectively paying $45k for health care so PP doesn’t have to.

You’ll recall that PP & its supporters were quick to ramp up an attack campaign when Komen decided earlier this year to curtail its grants to PP.  A few days of pressure from PP did the trick, and now the pipeline’s back open. Apparently, once an agency makes a grant or contract to Planned Parenthood, stopping is not an acceptable option. I know three NH Executive Councilors who found that out the hard way.

Of course, while Komen folded within days, the Councilors did not yield to the bullies. (PPNNE had to do an end run around the state Title X contract process by going to Sen. Shaheen, who persuaded the Obama administration to send money.) Komen could learn something here.

 

Chuck Colson, RIP

Chuck Colson died today at the age of 80.  I owe him thanks,  and so does anyone else who holds dear religious freedom and the right to life. 

When I first heard of him, he was a villain of the Watergate scandal. I was a teenager at that time, in the early stages of political activism, and Watergate’s figures were clearly divided in my view between the Good Guys & the Bad Guys. Colson was decidedly and unapologetically one of the Bad Guys, seeming to deserve the media characterization of him as a “hatchet man” for Nixon. He wound up in prison for a brief time, where he experienced deep and fundamental conversion of heart. Like many people, I was skeptical that a “Bad Guy” could change.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I was humbled to realize how mistaken I could be. He wore himself out in life-affirming ministries, most famously prison ministry.

Among the gifts he left us is the Manhattan Declaration from 2009, a “call to Christian conscience.” (Among Colson’s other work, he was a champion of ecumenical progress.) 
Discover it for yourself here.

Basic Books by Rita Marker and Abby Johnson

I expect this to become a recurring feature in this blog. I’ll recommend books that have influenced me in my pro-life journey.  I’d like to hear your recommendations as well.

Today, it’s something old & something new.

Deadly Compassion: the Death of Ann Humphry and the Truth About Euthanasia by Rita Marker (1995, William Morrow & Co., ISBN 9780688122218; also available as PDF download at www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/deadly-compassion/)
Unplanned: the Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line by Abby Johnson with Cindy Lambert
(2010, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., ISBN 9781414339399; also available as e-book)

Deadly Compassion
Don’t be put off by the ponderous title. This is the best one-volume briefing available on the pro-euthanasia movement.  The style of writing makes for easy reading, despite the heavy topic. Rita Marker is founder and director of the Patients Rights Council, formerly the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force, based in Ohio. In the course of her work, she met Ann Humphry, whose husband Derek Humphry was a leading light of the Hemlock Society. At first on opposite sides of a seemingly impassable philosophical divide, the two women formed an unlikely friendship that ended only with Ann’s tragic death, the circumstances of which were closely tied to the movement founded by her by-then-estranged husband.

Chapters alternate between the story of the friendship and the history of pro-euthanasia activities. At first somewhat jarring, this arrangement becomes smoother after the first few chapters. By the end, which is harsh even though the reader can see it coming, the personal and the political have merged to devastating effect. Marker does not resort to melodrama, although you might be misled into thinking so by some of the jacket blurbs. Marker’s smart enough to know that the bare facts are dramatic enough on their own.

Seventeen years after publication of this book, euthanasia advocates have scored some serious victories here and abroad. Reading Deadly Compassion is one good way to prepare to participate in the ongoing debate. Marker’s work with the Patients Rights Council continues today.

Unplanned
You’ve probably heard by now of Abby Johnson. A former Planned Parenthood clinic director in Texas, Johnson is now a full-time pro-life activist. She wants the world to know what PP looks like from the inside, and she is tenacious in calling for examination of PP’s finances.

Hers was not an overnight conversion. She went to work for PP out of compassionate motives, believing that women’s health was a priority there.  Two experiences in particular forced her to question what she was doing.  She was once asked to assist at an ultrasound-guided abortion to terminate a 13-week pregnancy. The image of the preborn child as the abortion was completed left her shaken. Later, as a clinic director, she was shocked to be given an “abortion quota” by PP, which clearly put the bottom line ahead of women’s health.

While this was going on inside PP, an exceptional ongoing pro-life witness was maintained outside the facilities. Protesters who were abusive toward PP workers had only increased solidarity within PP. A group called Coalition for Life took a different approach, relying on peaceful prayer and gentle communication. Gradually, as Johnson saw Coalition members outside her facility day after day, she got to know some of them. The personal connection was critical as Johnson attempted to come to terms with her doubts about her work.

The Coalition is the group responsible for the 40 Days for Life campaigns nationwide, and Johnson’s story is a testament to their effectiveness. Coalition leaders (including David Bereit, who will be visiting NH later this year) became mentors and friends to Johnson, standing by her as she came to her decision to leave PP.

From the Foreword: “I reveal my story not because I am proud of it. I am not. But my thinking and choices are not unlike those of so many people I have encountered. And until we each set aside our own preferences for how we wish others would think and behave, or how we assume others think and behave, we won’t be able to understand those with whom we differ in order to engage in real dialogue and discover truth.”