Gatherings in Manchester and Greenland set the stage for New Hampshire’s 40 Days for Life campaign, set to begin September 27. Worldwide, campaigns will soon be underway in more than 300 cities.
Jen Robidoux, vice-president of New Hampshire Right to Life and a former 40DFL campaign leader, told the Manchester crowd, “It doesn’t take a whole bunch of people to make a difference. It takes you. Be that one.” She recalled how her involvement with NHRTL and her work with 40DFL began with personal invitations. Her activism grew out of those one-on-one conversations. “[40 Days for Life] is not an in-your-face campaign. It’s a how-can-I-help-you campaign.”
Manchester’s new campaign director is Sheila DePuydt, a veteran of 40DFL campaigns in Ohio. She noted the difference between Ohio, where 40 Days for Life is well-known, and New Hampshire, where “that’s not the case.” She’s accustomed to hearing from people who are reluctant to pray outside abortion facilities, preferring to pray at home for all the lives in the balance. While acknowledging the value of such prayer, she pointed out “Jesus did not stay at home.” “There’s something about physically being there,” peacefully and prayerfully, outside the places where abortion is taking place.
Greenland campaign leader Jackie McCoy reported, “It was sweltering hot yesterday at the Fall, 2017 40 Days for Life Kick off Rally, but that didn’t stop 30 plus people from attending. This will be our 17th 40 Days for Life campaign here at the Lovering Center. The first campaign was in the Fall of 2009.”
Sheila provided a handout with guidelines reinforcing the Statement of Peace that every 40DFL participant must sign. One thing on the sheet stood out to me: “Keep in mind that most people are not wanting to know if the unborn is human. They’re wanting to know if you are.”
President Trump has issued an executive order on religious liberty, addressing in part the litigation between the government and the Little Sisters of the Poor over the government’s contraceptive mandate. The Sisters are apparently off the hook, if I properly understood the remarks the President made before he signed the order.
(Some of my earlier posts about the mandate are collected here.)
The Sisters are among the many plaintiffs who object to the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare on religious grounds. They don’t want to help procure contraception or abortion-inducing drugs and devices for their employees via employer-provided insurance. They have to go to court over this, lest they face fines that would destroy their ability to carry out their vocation to minister to impoverished elders.
The operative line in President Trump’s order is this: “The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate…” (Recall that contraception was declared to be “preventive” care under Obamacare.)
Consider issuing amended regulations?
I’m happy for the Sisters. This is good news, as far as it goes. But there’s a long way to go before the mandate is history.
A postscript to yesterday’s New Hampshire House committee vote on buffer zone repeal, HB 589: Rep. Gary Hopper (R-Weare) read aloud to his fellow committee members a communication he had received from Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice in response to a query from him about what the state has spent so far defending the buffer zone law.
He read the letter aloud in a meeting that was open to the public; he posted it today on Facebook; his correspondent is a state employee; the topic was state business. Sounds like quotable stuff to me. So here is Deputy AG Rice to Rep. Hopper, as posted by Rep. Hopper this morning:
…So far, the Department has devoted 313.75 hours of attorney time in defending the buffer zone law, which equates to $43,611.25 (313.75 hours x $139.00/hr). We do not track the time that support staff devotes to any particular case so I cannot provide a cost for that. As far as future costs, that will depend on what the plaintiffs chose to do. If they appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court, we would file an objection, which I would estimate would involve approximately 40 hours of attorney time at $139/hr, or $5560 in cost. If the US Supreme Court accepted the appeal, the Department would likely devote several hundred hours on the appeal. I am unable to better estimate the amount of time required.
The plaintiffs could opt to refrain from further litigation unless and until a buffer zone is actually being considered. At this point, I cannot estimate if or when that would occur, or the amount of time that this office would spend on the litigation.
Recall that in the Supreme Court’s McCullen v. Coakley decision overturning a Massachusetts buffer zone law, taxpayers not only covered the cost for the state to defend an ultimately unconstitutional law but were later on the hook for $1.2 million in plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.
I’m sure Massachusetts’ costs started small. Look where they ended up.
The team at the Susan B. Anthony List reminded me today of a canny little video they made a few years back, when the outgoing president and his appointees imposed the HHS mandate. The video hits a nerve anew, in this week of the rescission of an invitation to pro-lifers by organizers of a so-called “Women’s March.” This week, it’s not a president speaking – but the Bureau of Womanhood Conformity sounds like it’s still in business.