March for Life 2013 Belonged to the Young

Nothing underscores the tenacity of the pro-life movement like the overwhelming number of college students from all over the country who converged on Washington, DC today for the 39th March for Life.  In the best way, I felt my age as I rejoiced in the fact that opposition to Roe is not a one-generation phenomenon. Moreover, as I listened to these young people today, it’s clear that their commitment to respect for life is not limited to the preborn. Roe v. Wade at 40 looked creaky today.

Thousands upon thousands of us, of all ages, marched together from the Mall past the Capitol to the Supreme Court. It took well over two hours. Under the watchful eyes of Capitol police, a few counter-protesters demonstrated on the sidewalk in front of the Court. Perhaps the light snow kept their numbers down.

We rallied on the Mall near the Washington Monument for an hour and a quarter before the March began. The biggest cheers at the rally went to former Sen. Rick Santorum who addressed the crowd with his wife Karen and several of their children alongside. Sen. Rand Paul had a well-received turn at the mic as well.

I lost count of the college groups, identified by the banners they carried. My photos show only a few. I didn’t get pictures of the groups from Yale, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Dartmouth, Northeastern, University of Michigan … I could list about twenty more. That doesn’t count the groups without banners.

Whenever the March gets news coverage, the participation by Catholic groups is impossible to miss. Less heralded are other religious communities along with groups like students from secular colleges and health care professionals. With my photos, I’ve tried to show some of the marchers who ordinarily fly under the radar. Respect for life is more widespread than you might think. So is opposition to Roe.

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This was one of the subtler references to the President on the signs at the March.
This was one of the subtler references to the President on the signs at the March.

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Florida State
Florida State

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaking at the pre-March rally
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaking at the pre-March rally
Ruben Verastegui of Students for Life got a huge ovation.
Ruben Verastegui of Students for Life got a huge ovation.

 

In NH, Roe’s New Tagline: “Civility, Compassion, Love”

Less than a mile from New Hampshire’s State House in Concord is the Feminist Health Center on Main Street, an abortion facility from way back. It was founded 39 years ago, just a year after Roe v. Wade. The homey little building is easy to miss on a normal day, with only a modest sign to distinguish it from nearby residences.

Last Saturday wasn’t a normal day. Hundreds of pro-life activists, including myself, marched peacefully from the State House to St. John’s church for New Hampshire’s annual March for Life, passing the FHC and its chanting supporters along the way. The FHC’s tiny front lawn was scattered with little signs bearing assorted messages. In the midst of them was a much larger sign, professionally made and carefully installed, with three words: “Civility. Compassion. Love.”

Put aside for the moment the fact that the dozen or so people chanting at us were carrying things like a handmade drawing of a fried egg (or was it poached?) with the legend “This is not a chicken.”  The clumsy slogan and kiddie art on poster board at least looked like an authentic un-staged production. But that big sign? That one came from the pros.

“Civility. Compassion. Love.” Warm words for such a cold setting. Tried-and-tested, slick, polished focus-group words. Striking and thought-provoking words. There was no sign for “Choice” on the lawn.  “Choice” has apparently worn out its welcome, as one poll after another has driven home the point that choice means something very different to the average American than it does to the average abortion-facility worker. Roe needs new slogans.

Of course it needs them, since the plain language of the decision is insufficient to support the industry that has grown up around it.

Under Roe, according to the Supreme Court, parental notification for minors’ abortions is allowed, as long as there’s a judicial bypass. No parent can stop an abortion under these laws. Decisions based on Roe have affirmed that there may be limits on government funding of abortion. Courts have upheld laws against partial-birth abortion, since nothing in Roe or the decisions flowing from it require that we tolerate a procedure to pull a fetus partway out of its mother before the abortionist gets to the main event. Roe allows for the collection of abortion statistics and other oversight to ensure that abortion providers aren’t harming women. Roe allows informed-consent measures such as notifying the pregnant women of the developmental stage of the fetus.

I have heard a representative of FHC testify against each and every one of these measures in New Hampshire, saying they limit access to abortion. She celebrates Roe nonetheless, trusting that a future Supreme Court will roll back all oversight.

In my state, there’s no requirement that abortions be done by a physician or a nurse practitioner. No licensing or training requirements exist. There is no informed consent requirement. There is no need to report to the state how many abortions are done, never mind if a woman is injured or killed as a result. No one in New Hampshire who touts “safe” abortion can point to objective data confirming the alleged “safety” for the woman undergoing the procedure, whether the abortion is surgical or chemical. And still FHC’s supporters are concerned that New Hampshire now does too much to suppress Roe. 

That’s not compassion. It sure isn’t love. I would even go so far as to say it isn’t civil. It’s outrageous.

And the aborted children? It’s unclear if last weekend’s fried-egg poster outside FHC is reflective of the pre-abortion counseling offered to FHC clients. I see no compassion for the children who are denied their very birth, and I see no civility in any policy that pits women against their children.

The new tagline on display at FHC means that three more words might go the way of “choice,” being misused and distorted. It’s left to pro-life activists to make sure no one can forget what civility, compassion, and love really mean.

 

 

 

 

 

The Rest of the Veto Day 2012: Partial-Birth Ban is Law, Fetal Homicide Falls Just Short

The House’s override of the HB 1679 veto (partial-birth) augured well for the day. The Senate followed suit a little later, on an 18-5 straight-party-line vote. The bill is due to go into effect next January 1, although I have a sneaking suspicion that someone will try to enjoin it.

This is an enormous victory. I’ve spent enough time in the trenches to know one when I see one.

Fetal homicide, HB 217, fell short on a vote of 201-126. A majority in the House, to be sure, but not quite the two-thirds needed to send it to the Senate. Reps. Kathleen Souza (R-Manchester) and Warren Groen (R-Rochester) argued for the bill today on the House floor. Governor Lynch got spanked today, with several of his vetoes being overturned, so he may be particularly gratified that he managed to make this one stick.

Dominick Emmons and his mother got no justice today. I told their story in an earlier post.

The death of Dominick Emmons led to the Lamy case in which the state supreme court called on the legislature to clean up the state laws regarding the death of a fetus. Most of the legislators were willing to do that, despite Governor Lynch’s veto. The override vote was complicated when RESOLVE, a national support group for families dealing with infertility, teamed up with NARAL to hand out anti-HB217 flyers to legislators this morning.

Huh?

You read that right. After the bill had its Senate hearing but before the original Senate vote, abortion advocates went to work looking for allies. The usual suspects – PPNNE, NARAL – found a threat to Roe v. Wade where none existed, and they managed to whip up fear that a fetal homicide law would stop in vitro fertilization and other forms of assisted reproduction. That WOULD NOT HAPPEN under HB 217, for the simple reason that the bill includes language exempting from prosecution anyone acting with a woman’s consent – even a lab tech discarding surplus embryos (children)  from IVF.

I wonder if some of the pro-life women struggling with infertility know that RESOLVE has made common cause with abortion advocates to fight fetal homicide laws. Next time, sponsors will need to keep that in mind as they build the coalition that will get this legislation over the top next time it’s introduced.

Raise your glass and toast the reps who refused to fall for the fear factor – especially Kathy Souza, who has been promoting fetal homicide legislation for a couple of decades now, since long before she was a state rep. Manchester ward 4 can be proud of her.

About Time: an Alternative to Guttmacher Institute

I note with great pleasure the rollout of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. The Lozier Institute is the education and research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List, which promotes the election of pro-life women and men to Congress. The Lozier Institute looks to me like a breakthrough in policy research.

For years, the Guttmacher Institute has been relied upon by policymakers at all levels for statistical information about abortion and reproductive health care (which are two different things – repeat after me: abortion is not health care). Formerly an arm of Planned Parenthood, the organizations allegedly split in the late 1970s. However formal the split may be in a legal and financial sense, Guttmacher is hand-in-glove with PP on policy.

Guttmacher’s statistics and findings are given entirely too much credence at the State House, as I’ve seen through the years. I have to remind lawmakers from time to time that any “statistics” Guttmacher reports about New Hampshire are based on voluntarily-reported information from abortion providers, since the state of NH does not collect abortion statistics. Most of the NH statistical information reported to Guttmacher about abortions comes from PPNNE. PPNNE then sends its lobbyist to Concord to fight efforts to enact a bill to require the state to collect statistics. PP-reported figures go to Guttmacher, which bases policy research on those numbers, and then the research is used by PP to advance its mission. Fuzzy math, cozy relationship.

I am looking forward to learning what the Lozier Institute is able to do to provide a clearer picture of how abortion is affecting us as individuals and as a community. It’s encouraging to know that the parent organization, SBA List, has been extremely supportive of efforts in NH and elsewhere to require public health authorities to gather accurate information. How many abortions in NH? How old are the mothers? At what gestational age are pregnancies terminated? What about morbidity and mortality for the mothers, both short- and long-term? Who’s doing these procedures? Where?

I recommend supporting the Lozier Institute’s research. It will take time, but I hope legislators and public health officials will soon see that Guttmacher isn’t the only kid on the block.

Basic Book: Voices of Post-Abortive Women

Aborted Women: Silent No More by David C. Reardon. 1987: Crossway Books, ISBN 0891074511.  Reissued 2002: Elliot Institute, ISBN 0964895722

I have the older edition on my shelf. It was the first thing I ever read about post-abortive women, beyond a few brochures from an outfit called Women Exploited by Abortion. With WEBA’s cooperation, Reardon surveyed 252 women in 42 states about their abortion decisions and the aftermath. The survey results would have fit into a short magazine article. What makes the book so enlightening and necessary are the many stories recounted by and about the women who agreed to speak to Reardon.

Reardon surveyed 252 women in 42 states. That’s a fairly small sample, and to a degree it was a self-selected group, since the women were part of WEBA. The stories and the numbers are powerful nonetheless. All the women cited in the book were determined to be “silent no more”. Their stories had, and continue to have, urgency and importance.

One of Reardon’s statistics stands out even today: over two-thirds of the women surveyed felt rushed to make the abortion decision. It’s ironic that New Hampshire’s lawmakers are arguing now over whether a 24-hour waiting period is too great an imposition on a woman’s right to choose abortion.

This book is available on Amazon but might be hard to find in bookstores. Look on your church’s bookshelf. This one made a splash when it was first published, and a lot of faith communities with active pro-life ministries picked up the book.