On the agenda this week: two bills addressing mid- and late-term abortions. One bill is federal, and it fell short on a procedural vote in the U.S. Senate. The other bill is getting its hearing this week (January 31, 10:00 a.m.) before a New Hampshire House committee, a year after a similar bill was tabled in the House.
The opposition by abortion advocates is predictable, as is the split among pro-lifers.
Federal: the “Pain-Capable” Bill
The U.S. Senate failed this week to advance a so-called “Pain-Capable” bill, which would have limited abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy, the point at which preborn children can feel pain. As if the very title of the bill weren’t enough to calm fears that it might actually confer personhood on anyone (it was written to be merely a limitation on abortion), the bill contained exceptions for children conceived through rape and incest.
The point of those exceptions is anyone’s guess. They provided no tactical advantage of which I’m aware, and they infuriated rape survivors and their children.
We were treated to the disedifying spectacle of the Democratic Senate leader high-fiving a colleague after the vote. They weren’t celebrating the defeat of an exceptions bill. Way to go, guys. Team Gosnell prevails again.
Here are two different views of the Pain-Capable Bill, offered by women whose experiences give them a perspective that I’m sure most Senators lack. These are taken from public posts on social media.
This bill teaches that children over 20 weeks gestation deserve protection from the horrific pain of having arms and legs torn off or their heads and chests crushed at the hands of abortionists. It further teaches that, a similar child who’s unfortunate enough to be the second victim of rape does not deserve to be protected form that same excruciating death.
…It is very important to note that perhaps, the one person, the mom, who could redeem the situation would be left with the guilt of committing an atrocity against another innocent victim. This could set her up for post traumatic stress responses for the rest of her life.
…I was not only conceived by a violent rape, but my first child was born as a result of sex trafficking. I am the target of this kind of legislation….
Of course, I’ll ask you to remove the exceptions. These exceptions undermine to premise of the bill. They are discriminatory and unjust. No child should receive the death sentence for the crime of their father.
I find it really hard to talk about the defeat of the 20-week abortion bill by Senate Democrats. Every time I think about it, I am right back in the abortion clinic, staring at a jar filled with the severed arms and legs of a baby who just moments before had been ripped apart in [its] mother’s womb. I am right back to that place where I told mothers that the doctor was going to “gently extract the contents of the uterus.” Women in their 23rd week of pregnancy were lied to and told it was a simple “procedure.”
Nobody told them that they and their baby would be in agony as the doctor used forceps and sharp instruments to dismember their child, pulling and tugging until the baby was ripped apart and he could pull the body out, piece by piece.
…To see Senate Democrats high-fiving each other on the Senate floor truly left me sickened….What kind of a society allows such barbaric killing? What kind of a society allows late-term abortion to be used as a way to generate profits for a body parts selling industry? Have people lost all sense of their humanity?
Even writing this I can smell the sick, horrifying smell of the abortion procedure room. It is something that will never leave me. I want to run and hide and pretend like this barbarism isn’t happening. I truly can’t bear the horror. But I have to say something, if only in memory of the thousands of babies whose blood I have on my hands.
Dear God, I implore you to awaken those who are blind, those who helped to defeat this bill, and those who voted against it. Please open their eyes. Please give them back their humanity. Please have mercy on us.
In New Hampshire: the Viable Fetus Protection Act
Rep. Keith Murphy (R-Bedford) is leading a team of sponsors on HB 1680, to restrict abortions after viability. Restrict, not ban: it has exceptions (though none for rape and incest). Far from undermining Roe, it is consistent with Roe’s holding that the state may assert an interest in prenatal life in the latter stages of pregnancy. New Hampshire is a place of abortion extremism, where unregulated providers can do the deed anytime until the preborn child comes to term. HB 1680 is an attempt to change that, in a modest way.
The bill does not pretend to push against any constitutional limits. It doesn’t pretend to be about personhood. It is a straightforward bid “to assert a compelling state interest in protecting the lives of viable unborn fetuses.” It even leaves the determination of viability to the “treating physician,” meaning the abortion provider.
This bill prohibits post-viability abortions (which NHRTL supports) but it also includes exceptions for the [unrestrained] health of the mother; for Twin To Twin Transfer (TTS) syndrome; and for Fetal anomalies incompatible with life. NHRTL cannot support enacting law that explicitly excludes any class of humans from legal protection. [brackets and parentheses in original]
I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate that if – if – HB 1680 is defeated or derailed, abortion advocates will be high-fiving in Reps Hall just as they did in the U.S. Capitol the other day. And once again, they won’t be high-fiving over the defeat of “exceptions.”
I posted a few minutes ago about a U.S. House vote re-directing funds away from Planned Parenthood. My attitude was yay-but-Senate.
Allow me to share with you a more decisive response, from Catherine Adair – a woman whom I have the honor of knowing, and whose experience I respect.
I know Planned Parenthood hasn’t been defunded yet. I know we have a ways to go. But I am in shock. Absolute shock. I *never* thought anything like this would ever be possible.
Even when I worked at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, I felt like they were untouchable. I started working there thinking they were progressive & pro-woman, that they were in the business of providing healthcare.
I truly believed they were helping women. But *every* time I went to my manager about a patient who I thought was being coerced or was unsure, my concerns were brushed aside and I was told to “put her through.” This included underage girls. I was told to give minority women and girls “the shot” (Depo Provera) because they would never remember to take a pill everyday. I was in the procedure room where women were treated like cattle and their bodies treated like trash.
I left Planned Parenthood disillusioned, angry, and alone. I didn’t think I could ever say anything against them, I was too afraid. They had psychologically manipulated me into believing that speaking against them would be an unthinkable betrayal of the Sisterhood. So many women (and men) have been manipulated too, manipulated into believing that the sky will fall if Planned Parenthood is defunded. I want to tell all of you that they are LYING. That’s what they do – they lie. They manipulate you and use you, all so that they can make money.
I am beyond happy today. I am vindicated. I am standing tall while continuing to be vilified and hated by many people. I don’t care. I know the truth and it has set me free.
Topics timely and evergreen, posts new and old: the most popular posts on Leaven for the Loaf in 2016 cover a wide range. Today begins the countdown of the posts that drew the most viewers this year. Look for part 2 tomorrow.
In March, with no abortion facility in New Hampshire willing to use the buffer zone law that abortion advocates fought so hard to get, a federal judge dismissed a suit against the law. The law had not been used, said the judge, so no one had yet suffered any actual injury from it.
Update: attorneys for the pro-life plaintiffs have appealed the March decision to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Legislatively, a bill to repeal the buffer zone law passed the House in March but failed on a tie vote in the Senate in May. Another repeal bill will be considered in 2017.
This post from 2014 continues to attract readers. It’s by Catherine Adair, taken from one of her Facebook posts (and used with her permission). “While walking with my family today we were greeted by two young men wearing Planned Parenthood t-shirts trying to raise money to ‘fight back.’ I engaged one of them in conversation and was able to plant some seeds.”
Catherine describes a moment of grace: a spontaneous conversation between people who disagreed with each other but listened to each other with respect.
The state’s Democratic Party paid to mail a letter from a pro-abortion physician attacking U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte. He conflated abortion and health care, attacked Ayotte’s attempt to address the HHS contraceptive mandate, and accused her of being insufficiently deferential to abortion providers. I posted the full text of the letter.
I caught a fair amount of criticism (and temporarily lost some readers) when I announced mid-year that I refused to support either major party’s candidate for president. In August, I followed up with something all pro-lifers could get behind, regardless of their candidate: whoever wins the presidential election needs to see a big March for Life in Washington in January.
“Peaceful, as always, but disruptive by its sheer volume and the determination of the marchers. It wouldn’t hurt for members of Congress to see that, too, particularly the Senators who will vote on any Supreme Court nominees….Public witness to the right to life is becoming more important, not less.”
Update: I’ve got my bus reservation in hand. How about you?
Catherine has said, “The worst thing we can do [when meeting abortion workers] is be confrontational, antagonistic. I think the best thing we can do is smile, say hello – just be that peaceful, kind, loving presence they need.” This from a former worker at an abortion facility, who knows what a sidewalk looks like in the hands of people being antagonistic.
Surprise: it wasn’t the truth in bloody pictures that changed her heart, or Abby’s. It was the truth in relationships. Patience, love, grace, and time were relevant, urgently so.
I need those reminders. Anyone who’s heard me testify at the State House (as has been my custom for the better part of 30 years, God help me) knows that patience is not my strong suit. Dang, some of those political types are dense. No names, please.
And yet…”You know what changed my mind? Grace.”
How did I pick one that out of this morning’s torrent of mostly-forgettable tweets? No matter. Twitter’s existence has been justified for another day. Carry on.
The first former abortion worker I met was Catherine Adair. Through a convergence of odd circumstances I’ve related elsewhere, she came to New Hampshire in 2011 when Planned Parenthood funding first became a state issue. With no financial incentive, on her own time and in her own words, she came to a Concord press conference to talk about what she had seen as a PP employee. Listening to her then, and speaking with her privately over the years since, brought home to me how much courage it takes for PP ex-employees as well as post-abortive women to go public.
As I listened to Catherine, there was no filter. In our later private conversations, that didn’t change. She’s always been honest and clear with me. Her concern for the women she met at PP remains authentic and urgent.
“For many of us, the former clinic workers and post-abortive women, the recent videos of Planned Parenthood executives are a nightmare. Reliving the horror of our abortions, reliving the gruesome work of the clinic, we feel alone. Who can understand our pain? We can’t even comprehend it. The callousness of those profiting from our pain is sickening, almost too much to bear. It is compounded when the media refuses to investigate the truth of what we see on those videos. It is compounded when the supporters of Planned Parenthood call us liars.”
I’ve heard Catherine speak at several public events since our first meeting. What follows are some of her own words from those presentations, with a link to video where available.
“I was a clinic worker in the late 1990s in a large Planned Parenthood clinic in Boston. I was not a manager. I was not involved in corporate decision-making. I didn’t have an office. I was a simple clinic worker. I was a young, idealistic college woman, like other ones who go to Planned Parenthood who believe the carefully orchestrated facade that Planned Parenthood presents. I believed I would be helping women, that access to affordable reproductive health care was the core of their mission, and that they cared about reducing the number of abortions and reducing the need for abortions.
“But I discovered that all was not as it seemed. I was a pro-choice feminist dedicated to the cause, and I became more and more disillusioned, until I left feeling completely betrayed. There is a party line with Planned Parenthood, and questioning the system automatically brands you as a woman-hating bigoted religious extremist – and they are very good at shutting down any opposition.
“When Live Action exposed the truth about Planned Parenthood, I finally felt vindicated. Yes, Planned Parenthood covers up the sexual abuse of minors. I’ll never forget a young girl, she might have been 14 years old, was brought in by her abuser. He was even allowed to come into the counseling room, where he answered questions for her and insisted that we give her an abortion. She sat there looking at the floor the entire time. I couldn’t question my manager because she was the person who allowed this man into the counseling room, against all supposed protocol. I’ll never forget her face, and I never even heard her voice.
“Women who can’t speak English often are not given translators, and often their only translator is the person pressuring them into the abortion. I remember a Somali woman who came. She spoke no English. Three men were allowed into the counseling room: her husband, her brother, and her brother’s friend who spoke some English. Her husband would not allow her to speak, but he angrily insisted that we give her the abortion. My manager told me we had to be aware of cultural differences – and pushed her into the abortion room. Again, I never heard her speak.
“…Untrained staff such as myself take medical histories, take blood pressure and pulse, and assist during the medical procedure. I was receptionist, appointment-maker, counselor, and medical assistant rolled into one. There is no real counseling, because there is only one right answer: have an abortion. Counseling for any option other than abortion does not exist.
“Sometimes it is difficult to hear that what we think is true and what we really believe in is simply a lie. No one wants to believe they could be deceived. We can either confront the truth or ignore it and call whistleblowers like Lila Rose [of Live Action] liars.
“…[PP] target[s] younger and younger audiences to establish dependency and to develop their clientele. Planned Parenthood is not about choice. In fact, over 96% of women who are pregnant who receive services at Planned Parenthood end up having an abortion. That is a staggering statistic. It is the Walmarting of women’s health care. Planned Parenthood expands its reach and receives taxpayer funds at the expense of other independent women’s health care centers, which focus on health care rather than abortion.
“…There is no reason Planned Parenthood should be receiving the federal and state funding that could go to other health care centers that are actually concerned with women’s health. But the abortion industry wields political muscle. It has millions at their disposal to lobby, advertise, and keep politicians on a short leash.”
“To me Republicans, Christians, conservatives, were all crazy. They were selfish people who hated women and would do anything they could to undermine women’s progress. But what’s crazy is living in a world of lies but not being able to see it.
“In my world, when I became pregnant when I was 19, abortion was presented as the only choice. I was told that it would fix everything – that everything would be taken care of, that it was safe, that it was legal, that it was easy. But nobody told me it was killing a baby. And nobody told me that I would endure decades of shame, regret, depression, anxiety. Nobody told me that I wouldn’t be able to speak about it because the shame and guilt and pain would be too much to bear.
“So what I did is I became the world’s greatest feminist. I was a women’s studies major in college, I marched in Washington for pro-choice. After I graduated from college, I went to work with Planned Parenthood, because Planned Parenthood to me was this great feminist organization that was working really hard to help women. I went to work at their big abortion clinic in Boston. And I really did believe that Planned Parenthood was helping women.
“But as I worked in the clinic, first as a receptionist, then as a counselor, then as a medical assistant, I became increasingly disillusioned. It really wasn’t helping women at all. It was an abortion-driven, for-profit business…. It was a place where women even til their fifth month of pregnancy were assured that abortion was just an emptying of the contents of the uterus.
“…As I struggled to reconcile all I believed in with the reality of the lie being perpetrated against women at Planned Parenthood, I had no one to talk to, nowhere to turn. You know, Planned Parenthood is very effective at making itself the martyr, making itself the victim of these women-hating conservatives. And anyone who doesn’t agree with them is a woman-hater, a misogynist.
“But you see, the truth is that abortion hurts women. And who are you really helping by pushing abortion on women? [PP is] helping their bottom line. Almost 40% of their revenue comes from abortion, and I’m sure you’ve heard abortion leaves one killed, the other wounded. Planned Parenthood doesn’t want people to talk about that….
“We know that Planned Parenthood tells people that abortion is a common medical procedure, and unfortunately that’s true. It’s estimated that one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime, and some will have multiple abortions. They want us to believe that abortion is normal. But it’s not. It is not normal. It is not natural for a woman to kill the child in her womb. What kind of society have we become that we accept the killing of children simply by choice? An impoverished nation.
“Thirty-eight years of living under Roe v. Wade have eaten away at the soul of this country. But there are some who are willing to fight…. What if someone had told me that I had other choices? What if someone had cared enough to work to end abortions so that this never would have happened? What if abortion were unthinkable? Can you imagine that?
“It is possible. …Abortion hurts women. It hurts families. It doesn’t go away. …A year ago, I never would have imagined saying this out loud to anybody, because the shame and pain of it was so great. … I’m privileged hopefully to give a voice to all those children who were aborted while I stood by and watched. They really were people. They were children. I am honored by the mercy and forgiveness and love of Our Lord, and of those who have helped me to find my voice and have given me the courage and strength to speak the truth.”
Catherine at the 2015 March for Life in Concord:
“The worst thing we can do [when meeting abortion workers] is be confrontational, antagonistic. I think the best thing we can do is smile, say hello – just be that peaceful, kind, loving presence they need. Please, pray for the people working in the clinic. Nobody is beyond redemption. Nobody is beyond conversion. Embrace every life there is, wherever it is.
“…If someone had been there [on the sidewalk] the day I was there [for her own abortion], if I’d had the courage to talk to somebody, maybe I’d have made a different decision. You just never know how what you’ll say will affect somebody.”
[On working at Planned Parenthood in Boston]: “I thought ‘oh, that’s great. Planned Parenthood is really pro-woman.’ …All we did was abortions, all day every day, Monday through Saturday….The first thing – the first thing – that happens in an abortion clinic is the money changes hands. You’re not getting anywhere until you pay for that abortion….I would describe the abortion procedure to the woman: ‘the doctor will gently extract the contents of your uterus.’ That’s it, because in abortion clinics you never talk about the humanity of the child. It’s all about dehumanizing the child. We didn’t even say ’embryo.’ That’s too close to ‘fetus’ which is a little too close to ‘baby.’
“…You know, I had counseled for second-trimester abortions. I had said ‘the doctor will gently extract the contents of your uterus.’ I didn’t know that he was going to go into her uterus with forceps and just grab at that baby….[I had] nightmares. Most people who work in abortion clinics do. You’d think I’d go running out of the clinic and say to the nearest person ‘D’you know what they’re doing in there? They’re killing babies!’ But I didn’t….My whole world was filled with people telling me that what I was doing was good, it was right, it was for the cause, it was pro-woman, and that all those crazy pro-lifers out there on the street wanted to kill me. And I believed it.”
[After leaving PP] “This wonderful priest said to me, ‘Catherine, don’t you know that God loves you?’ I just started to cry, because of course I didn’t believe that God loved me. I had murdered my own child. I had participated in the murder of thousands of children. But this priest, he told me to say the Rosary. As I prayed on the Mysteries, something just clicked for me. The grace that God can give, the forgiveness that He can give….One day at Mass, Jesus said to me, ‘Catherine, those are babies.’ Finally, the scales fell from my eyes. I was so afraid of going to that place of pain from my own abortion that I hadn’t been able to really think about it, how much each life is sacred and worth living. Finally, I was able to go to that place of pain and self-hatred and turn that into love. I look at my children, the children God has given me, and I am so grateful.
“…Honestly, seeing everybody walking in front of the clinic with love in your heart really gives me strength and makes me realize that no person is beyond God’s love. No person is beyond redemption. Nobody. This is why they fear you – because you expose the lies. That’s why they have to say ‘oh, you hate women’ – because they don’t know what to do with that love.”