Readers may wonder why I promote the 40 Days for Life project whenever I can. I assure you this isn’t an “ad,” and I derive no benefit from writing about it. I might even be unintentionally violating the law by posting the 40 Days logo (and if so, I hope the relevant parties will contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Here comes another 40 Days campaign, though, and I write this in hope that readers might give some thought to leading the effort in their own communities.
You can register for an informational webcast that will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, July 15, at 9 p.m. Eastern time. The dates for the next campaign are September 25 to November 3, and planning starts now.
The three-pronged approach of the 40 Days project is prayer and fasting, peaceful prayer vigil outside abortion facilities, and community outreach. The latter two can be intimidating if one attempts them alone. 40 Days brings teamwork to the effort. The “peaceful” part is serious; participants must make a formal commitment to it. This isn’t a one-shot deal in either time or location: vigils take place all over the U.S.A. and beyond, and there have been twelve 40 Days for Life vigils since 2007.
So check it out. If you can’t lead one, you can participate nonetheless. Count on coverage and encouragement from me.
40 Days for Life, in which New Hampshire volunteers have played an important role, is having a webcast this evening at 9 p.m. that will serve as a review of the success of the last 40 Days campaign nationwide. The web announcement also promises “abundant hope … three keys to stopping abortion in your community.” Register at the 40 Days for Life website. This is tonight, 9 p.m., and participants may listen via phone or webcast.
This one is a few weeks off, but because of the cost I’m listing it now so you may plan accordingly. The New Hampshire Federated Republican Women will have its annual Lilac Luncheon on May 20, and the speaker will be Star Parker of CURE. Tickets for non-members of NHFRW are $50. I know, ouch – but I will be there to cover Parker’s remarks, and you can count on a blog post or two from that.
Two Twitter feeds:
@nhcornerstone. (Full disclosure: I have been employed by Cornerstone Action and Cornerstone Policy Research.) Cornerstone promptly reports on important votes in Concord, and the Twitter feed also keeps you informed about Cornerstone’s pro-life/pro-family work in New Hampshire.
One web site to bookmark: nhrtl.org. New Hampshire Right to Life sponsors our state’s annual March for Life. It also has an email alert list to keep supporters notified of times and places of public witness outside abortion facilities. This is New Hampshire’s oldest pro-life group not affiliated with a church. By the way, the site includes an announcement that the speaker at NHRTL’s annual fundraising banquet in October will be Kristan Hawkins, executive director of the aforementioned Students for Life.
One volunteer opportunity: Birthright is always looking for people to help in direct ministry to women in crisis pregnancy. The group is resolutely nonpolitical, and their only work is to “love them both,” mother and child. To find out the particular needs in your area, you can call Birthright in Manchester at 668-3443 or Derry at 434-3000.
As always, these links are for informational purposes only and do not constitute my endorsement of everything on the sites.
One more number, just for fun: ONE. That’s for this blog, which I started one year ago this month. It was a tiny thing at first, and then I abandoned it for a few months, but now here we are! I am grateful to my readers.
Update: New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan signed a statewide buffer-zone bill into law on June 10, 2014.
Jennifer Frizzell, senior policy advisor for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, acknowledged in a radio interview this morning that PPNNE is looking into what she calls a “patient safety zone” or “buffer” outside PPNNE’s New Hampshire facilities. She referred specifically to the Manchester office, which she said had seen “increasing amounts of activity, targeting and intimidating clients.” She added, “we’re just having preliminary conversations” about potential city ordinances and state legislation.
Frizzell was a guest on New Hampshire Public Radio’s The Exchange, hosted by Laura Knoy. Ashley Pratte, executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research, joined Frizzell and Knoy to discuss “The Shifting Landscape of Abortion Law.” (Program audio here.)
“There was a relatively significant case recently out of Massachusetts where a 35-foot buffer zone to protect patients entering and exiting clinics was upheld through [an] appellate court,” said Frizzell, adding that the court found “appropriate balance of free speech rights of protesters and the need for patients to have safe access, uninterrupted, to get into and out of health care facilities.” PPNNE’s Burlington, Vermont facility has a 35-foot buffer zone as well. Such zones normally prohibit standing, marching, praying, or protesting within a specified distance of an abortion facility.
Manchester’s Planned Parenthood office on Pennacook Street was recently the site of a 40 Days for Life prayer vigil, with up to 150 people at a time praying outside the facility during the campaign that ended on Palm Sunday. Smaller groups of people continue to pray outside the building, placing particular emphasis on Thursdays, when surgical abortions are reportedly performed at the facility (see prayforlifecenter.org).
Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) sponsored an informed consent bill in the New Hampshire House this year. I asked her this afternoon to comment on Frizzell’s remarks, and she quickly asked, “Violation of free speech?” I took her question to a New Hampshire attorney with experience in First Amendment cases. His response was unequivocal: “This [would be] an unconstitutional infringement on freedom of speech and assembly.” He noted that New Hampshire has “lots of great cases” relative to protesters’ First Amendment rights, stemming from the arrests of members of the Clamshell Alliance who protested the construction of the Seabrook nuclear power plant in the 1970s and 1980s.
Catherine Kelley, who prays outside PP’s Manchester office and is one of the organizers of the Pray for Life Center, was equally blunt this afternoon. “We are absolutely opposed to any type of buffer or bubble zone. ‘Live Free or Die’ means we should be free to speak for and about life anywhere and anytime. I knew this was coming when PP got it passed in Vermont.”
Frizzell did not specify with whom these “conversations” about buffer zones are being held. Most buffer zones are enacted through municipal ordinance.
Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday will be the next national “40 Days for Life,” a program of prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion. New Hampshire sites for the campaign are Planned Parenthood in Manchester and the Joan Lovering Center in Greenland. The program will run from February 13 to March 24, and organizers will welcome participation from anyone committed to peaceful and prayer pro-life witness. You can sign up for specific vigil hours so that the area team can guarantee site coverage throughout the program.
The Manchester campaign has a Facebook page where you can find information and a link to the vigil schedule. The Manchester team has planned kickoff activities for this Tuesday, February 12 (Mardi Gras, indeed!): 5:30 p.m. Mass at Ste. Marie Church on Notre Dame Avenue, then over to Planned Parenthood at 24 Penacook Street for a 6:15 rally and prayer service followed by supper at 7:00 p.m. at the Pray for Life center across from PP.
In Greenland, the kickoff will be on Wednesday the 13th at 1:00 p.m. on the sidewalk outside the Lovering Center at 559 Portsmouth Avenue. Parking is available in the rear of the parking lot for town offices. This opening rally will be a time of prayer and information, with signs and materials available. An information page and vigil sign-up for the Greenland campaign is here. Vigil hours run 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for all forty days. Seven churches and related organizations have committed to supporting the Greenland vigil, but more volunteers are always welcome.
For the women walking into PP and Lovering, and for the women working there, please come and be a peaceful witness for life. Let your Lent be a time of hope.
hundreds strong at the 2013 March for Life in Concord
Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry, here with Judy Seppala) scored a twofer by attending both the March for Life and afterwards a Second Amendment rally.
Rep. Kathy Souza (R-Manchester) gave a legislative update.
Jackie Pelletier of Rochester invited marchers to sign up for the upcoming 40 Days for Life.
Kurt Wuelper, shown here at 2013’s NH March for Life (Ellen Kolb photo)
Skip Murphy of Granite Grok and Pastor Garrett Lear chat with Rep. Notter.
Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack)
Rep. Jane Cormier at 2013 Concord March for Life
Rep. David Murotake (R-Nashua)
Musicians from Hope of Christ Church in Concord kicked off the rally with songs of faith and praise.
Not even forty years of Roe v. Wade can discourage or silence us.
Pro-life New Hampshire was out in force today in Concord, with people of all ages coming together to celebrate life and renew their commitment to moving past Roe. My thanks go to the New Hampshire Right to Life Committee for organizing and sponsoring the day’s events. By my count, I was one of 350 people filling the sidewalk on Main Street between the State House and St. John’s church. Many of my longtime friends and colleagues were there. They won’t mind when I say that as much as I love seeing them, I was overjoyed by all the new faces at the march. The pro-life movement is growing all the time. So many young people! How can I not be full of hope?
Usually, the march goes south on Main Street, passing in front of the Feminist Health Center. This year, we were diverted around the block, for reasons which escape me. A couple of dozen abortion advocates stood near the FHC anyway with their signs and their chants. They had to chant for quite awhile. It took a half hour for the line of pro-lifers to pass a given point, since as always we obeyed the terms of the city permit: stay out of the street, and don’t block the sidewalk. You want 350 people walking two abreast? Works for me. Our message stays out there that much longer.
Who came? Young parents pushing kids in strollers. People in wheelchairs. State reps. Clergy and nuns (and why not, since the Reproductive Rights Caucus leader is so proud to be Catholic?). Church groups. High school & college students. This is just a hint of what I know I’ll see in Washington in a few days. Enormously encouraging, all of it.