Unlike my trip to the March for Life last year, I had only one day off for this year’s March. I managed to get there and back in 21 hours. Don’t try that with kids, colds, or bad weather.
I’m not a fan of the formal pre-March pep rally; I’m already pepped or I wouldn’t be there. Instead, I talked with a group from Canada that comes every year to stand along the parade route to cheer. They decline invitations to walk in the March, as near as I can tell; one of them told me “we’re here to thank you.” I went to the New Wave Feminists meetup outside the shuttered Air and Space Museum (government shutdown in progress), where I heard from two amazing, courageous women whose stories were new to me. I ran into Dr. George Harne of Northeast Catholic College in Warner, N.H., who was with NCC students at the March.
“Unique from Day One” was the theme of the 2019 March for Life.
Students for Life display at March for Life Expo 2019, Washington DC
Peacefully making point outside the Supreme Court
Students for Life greet marchers at the end of March for Life 2019, in front of Supreme Court building.
Marchers and counter-protesters stood side by side in front of the Supreme Court under the watchful eyes of local police.
A glimpse back at marchers heading up Capitol Hill, March for Life 2019, Washington DC
It was fun to see students having a blast with Washington’s modest snow cover. I saw this snowman on the National Mall, propping up a sign from Feminists for Life.
I was determined to get a photo of the March crowd coming up Capitol Hill, which is hard to do from within the crowd – quick turn, hold up the phone, snap a photo and hope for the best – so I figured I’d get out ahead of the March and take a photo from the middle of the road. Nope, said a nice policeman. So the blurry image in this post’s gallery, taken as I teetered on the edge of a curb, was the best I could do. To see the size of the March, I recommend EWTN’s television coverage, along with this time-lapse video from Students for Life.
I ventured into the world of Facebook Live to give an assignment to viewers not at the March: call or tweet or visit or write our federal representatives, who are solidly pro-abortion – the ones from New Hampshire, at any rate. Let them know there’s a March going on; invite them to check it out; let them know that you don’t want your tax dollars being used for abortion or to subsidize abortion providers; and above all, let them know that Roe isn’t “settled.”
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.