Tag Archives: Culture of life

House Committee Changes Course on Fetal Homicide

Two weeks after voting to retain SB 66, the New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee has reconsidered its decision. Now, the fetal homicide measure will go to the House with a bipartisan committee recommendation of Ought to Pass with Amendment.

SB 66 in its current form would allow prosecutors the option of filing a homicide charge against anyone whose bad actions cause the death of a preborn child at 20 weeks’ gestation or later, if that death occurs against the will of the mother.

The next House session is June 1, and SB 66 will probably get its House vote that day. The message I’ll send my reps before that session is simple: support the committee recommendation on SB 66.

I’ll keep this post short, or at least not-too-long, because I need to get busy sending thank-yous to the twelve committee members who approved the bill. Two of them switched positions since the last go-round.

Notes and observations from the committee session of May 23:

The OTP/A vote was 12-8. The twelve: Reps. David Welch, Frank Sapareto, Dennis Fields, Bob Fesh, John Burt, Dennis Green, Kathleen Hoelzel, Carolyn Matthews, Jody McNally, Dave Testerman, Scott Wallace, and Roger Berube.

Reps. Wallace and Berube voted OTP/A after voting against SB 66 two weeks ago.

Rep. Berube is a Democrat, and he was treated to a snarky remark from a Democratic colleague before a brief party caucus, insinuating that Berube didn’t have to join in. He briskly shot back, “I’ve been a Democrat as long as you have.” And that put an end to snarky remarks uttered within hearing of the public.

Hoelzel and Matthews were sitting in for absent committee members Larry Gagne and Bonnie Ham.

Some Democrats on the committee objected to Rep. Burt’s reconsideration motion, with Rep. Laura Pantelakos saying “I feel very railroaded here today.” Reps. Renny Cushing and Shannon Chandley warned that the reconsideration vote had inadequate public notice. Neither Cushing nor Chandley commented on the fact that the public area of the hearing room was packed, with an overflow crowd trying to listen in from the doorway.

Rep. Cushing, a longtime legislator, said he had “no recollection” of the Criminal Justice committee reconsidering a two-week-old vote. Rep. Berube, another House vet, flatly disputed him, saying there had been reconsiderations on other bills “many a time.”

Rep. Pantelakos has always viewed fetal homicide legislation through the lens of abortion advocacy. She unsuccessfully attempted during the May 23 committee session to amend SB 66 into a be-kind-to-pregnant-ladies bill: enhanced penalties for killing a pregnant woman. “I’ve always wanted to find something to do for these people,” she said, using “these people” as a reference to families like the Crucittis and the Kenisons. Had Pantelakos’s amendment been adopted, her “something to do for these people” wouldn’t have applied to any assailant who killed a child but left the mother alive.

There is still a second fetal homicide bill, HB 156,  in the same committee under “retained” status. Before the May 23rd debate on SB 66, Chairman Welch  announced the names of the reps who will serve on a subcommittee to study HB 156: Chandley, Gagne, Burt, Ham, Sapareto. Rep. Pantelakos raised her hand and asked to be added. Welch agreed. HB 156 has an 8-week provision compared to SB 66’s 20-weeks, referring to the point in pregnancy at which the law might apply. As a retained bill, HB 156 won’t come before the full House until 2018.

Unmentioned by committee members on May 23, except for one oblique reference to “these people”: Griffin Kenison, Sara Crucitti, Dominick Emmons. Unmentioned: the Lamy case, which underscored the need for New Hampshire to join the dozens of other states that have fetal homicide laws. Unmentioned: the option of seeking an advisory opinion from the New Hampshire Supreme Court about the text of a fetal homicide bill.

But the committee did get around to OK’ing SB 66. That’s good enough for one day.


A Team Effort: St. Gianna’s Place

“A Safe Harbor for Mother and Child.” Step by step, St. Gianna’s Place is on the way to becoming a shelter for pregnant and parenting women. Administrative details are in place: a board of directors; nonprofit tax status. Now comes the work of acquiring a house, most likely in Londonderry, New Hampshire.

St. Gianna’s is taking shape one step at a time, guided by board members and an increasing number of supporters. One of those supporters, Lynn, hosted me and several other women for coffee recently so we could meet Maria Szemplinski of the St. Gianna’s Place board.

Maria talked about the planned home and about the people whose vision has brought the project this far.  She told us about the need for more shelter beds in our area: “our Calcutta is right here,” she said, evoking Mother Teresa. She talked about other shelters in the region and how their staffs have been generous in sharing their advice and experience with the St. Gianna’s team.

So what’s next? We asked Maria what we could do.

One obvious answer: fundraising. That wasn’t what Maria led with, though. She asked us to consider what our gifts might be.

I knew some of my fellow guests slightly, and had met others for the first time that morning: a student active in pro-life work at her school, people with experience working with at-risk youth, an adoptive parent. These were women with full lives, hardly in need of another project, but all of them eager to offer practical assistance to pregnant and parenting women. I was in a room full of potential mentors and teachers.

Our hostess was meeting one of St. Gianna’s most urgent needs by welcoming us for an information session. Spreading the word is critical to attracting the material support the project needs. Maria and her fellow board members welcome opportunities to speak with any person or group who’d like to learn more.

Maria made it clear that even at this stage, the St. Gianna’s board is on the lookout for people with the skills to work with women who want educational guidance, job training, and parenting skills.

Eventually, it will be time to furnish and equip the house that will serve as the shelter. There will be ongoing needs for food, baby supplies, and building maintenance.

There will be – there is – work for everyone who wants to make the shelter happen and help it thrive.

Learn more about St. Gianna’s Place, about the woman whose life and example inspired the project, and how to contact the St. Gianna’s Place team for more information. Watch the St. Gianna’s Place Facebook page for updates. 


On trusting women: written 5 years ago, still too apt

Facebook’s On This Day feature served up a blast from the past today. I wrote a certain post five years ago, on International Women’s Day, a month before starting this blog,  This was before I went freelance, and at that time I was working for New Hampshire’s Cornerstone Action.

I had just spent a day at the State House monitoring some life-issue votes. There were a lot of “Trust Women” stickers being sported by women who didn’t trust me. The tone at the State House hasn’t changed appreciably since then, through changes in party majorities.

By the way, by the time that 2012 session was over, New Hampshire had a partial-birth abortion ban. It wasn’t easy, and it required an override of John Lynch’s veto. Nevertheless, it was done.

You can find the full post at Granite Grok.

On Women and Trust

The hallways in the state house were lined on Wednesday with people sporting stickers emblazoned with the slogans “Trust Women” and “Stop the War on Women.” Such exhortations give me pause, inasmuch as I’m a woman, and none of my sticker-clad fellow citizens seemed inclined to trust me.

Imagine, if you will, a band of citizens bearing stickers saying “Trust Men.” Passersby would immediately think “trust men to do what?” The men wearing such stickers would be laughed out of the state house. Women wearing such stickers would have my pity, along with my fervent hope that some serious consciousness-raising would take place before the next election.

So back to trusting women. Many of Wednesday’s citizens bearing the “Trust Women” message also held signs for NARAL Pro-Choice NH and Planned Parenthood. Aha. Now I get it: the stickers are telling elected officials to trust the women who support so-called pro-choice policies. Other women are not invited to the trustfest….

I was called a neanderthal this morning at the state house by someone who saw that I was not there to support the bogus “Trust Women” campaign. I was asked “how can you call yourself a woman?” I’ve spent 30 years in the thick of civic engagement, and it takes more than being outnumbered & verbally abused to make me go away. Still, it’s telling that a fellow citizen can look at me and see not a woman or a neighbor but a neanderthal. Civility, anyone?

Head to Granite Grok for the full post.

She Said It: Mother Angelica

Mother Angelica (ewtn.com photo)
Mother Angelica (ewtn.com photo)

“Some look upon birth as an accident, life as a necessary evil and death as resignation to the inevitable. The prospect can become so clouded by selfishness, statistics and pride that a womb giving life is turned into a tomb of death. There are others whose concepts of life become so narrow, their future so hopeless and their present so unbearable, that the only solution to their problem is the extinction of that life completely. And then there are many who live in a kind of nether world—the darkness of inferiority—of uselessness, of despair without a thought of God, love or what is to come. They live within a circle of their own thoughts, selfish desires and self-hatred. If only all those living in these painful, frustrating attitudes would realize how much they are loved by God, how they have a place in His plans, how He watches over them, cares for them and desires they be with Him in His Kingdom. Surely the realization of being created, supported, loved and cared for from conception, through life and in death would secure freedom to the unborn, give courage to the destitute and confidence to the hopeless.”

(excerpt from The Gift of Life: He Chose Me To Be by Mother M. Angelica, from ewtn.com.)

Mildred Jefferson on marches old and new

There’s going to be a Women’s March on Washington the day after the presidential inauguration next January, organized by women troubled by the incoming president.  Watch for abortion “rights” to be featured. A few pro-lifers are planning to join (or crash) the party, although my guess is that they’ll encounter some pushback. I’d love to be proven wrong.

Note that the March for Life, scheduled a year in advance, was pushed to January 27 by the Washington authorities who issue permits, in order for the March not to interfere with post-inauguration details including cleanup. Now the “Women’s March”, newly-organized, is scheduled for the day after the inauguration.  Go figure.

If you’ve been mulling over attending the March for Life or one of its state-level equivalents, this new event should be one more nudge.  The right to life needs to be asserted at an event where it’s not merely one thing in a long list of concerns. It’s basic. Roe v. Wade needs to be challenged from the pro-life side, not celebrated by anyone. Respect for women begins with respecting their very right to life from the moment of conception, without regard to age or health or condition of dependency. The policymakers in D.C., including the man who will be the new president on January 27,  need to hear that distinctive message.


People are welcome and needed at the March for Life in Washington as well as regional marches (in New Hampshire, that’s January 14, 2017), whether or not they come with religious convictions, and no matter who’s in the lead politically.

Those who are part of life-affirming churches have an enhanced responsibility to undertake peaceful public witness for life at those events.

I’ve been doing some research on the late Mildred Jefferson, a lion of the pro-life movement. Her papers are held by the Schlesinger Library of the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard. I found in there a handwritten draft of a 2003 message to pastors about the importance of public witness at marches for life. I don’t know if the message ever made its way into distribution, but something she wrote in the draft struck me as memorable.

…I will never believe that the loving-kind church communities that have supported the pro-life movement for so long can be any less charitable than the AIDS-walkers, hunger marchers or any others of those who support the hundreds of marches that go on now. 

To Dr. Jefferson, charity meant commitment.

What kind of public commitment will the pro-life movement demonstrate in January?


The next hundred days

Donald Trump is president-elect. All of New Hampshire’s Members of Congress and U.S. Senators next term will be pro-abortion women. In a contest between two men who have voted repeatedly to send public money to abortion providers, the New Hampshire governor’s race went to the candidate with one fewer PP contract nod to his credit.

No whining. There’s work to be done.

Politicians are deciding which policies they want to push hardest in their first days and months in office. The first hundred days set the tone for the rest of the term.

The politicians have to wait until they’re formally sworn in. Voters don’t. For us, the first hundred days start now.


Since culture precedes politics:

Spend time with family. Don’t let politics steal your joy.

Spend time with friends with a sense of humor.

Pray if you are so inclined, and include regular time for prayer in community. Literally put this on your calendar now, before the November and December holidays crowd everything out. Pray for civil recognition of the innate right to life of each human being. Pray for discernment. Pray in thanksgiving. Pray for elected officials. Pray to keep the long view in mind.

If you’re already volunteering or working for a pro-life agency or project, re-commit for 2017 – and tell others about your work.

At Pathways Pregnancy Care Center (l-r): Angel Marshall, Lesley Wotten, Gail Betts, Betty Reeg, Shannon Buteau (with daughter Willa),Kathy Perry.
Staff and volunteers at Pathways Pregnancy Care Center in Littleton, New Hampshire. All photos in this post by Ellen Kolb.
And then:

Put the Governor’s office on speed-dial (603-271-2121). Chris Sununu will be sworn in as governor January 5.

vote checkmarkGo to your town clerk’s office and become an independent voter. Make your involvement with political parties situational and tactical. A party with a pro-life platform does not necessarily have a full slate of pro-life candidates.

Swear off donations to political parties. Donate to individual campaigns or pro-life PACs instead. If a party solicits your support, ask politely if they can guarantee that your money will never be used to elect a pro-abortion politician. (That’s a trick question.)

Make a list of your elected representatives for 2017, state and federal, with contact information. For starters, here’s a link to the new New Hampshire House roster.

Become familiar with the nh.gov website, especially the pages for the General Court (legislature), Executive Council, and Governor. Learn how to read the legislative and Council calendars.

Once the legislative session begins in early January, stay informed on life-issue bills being considered. On the state level, I hope you’ll find this blog to be one trustworthy resource.

Make one trip to the State House just to take a tour. Soak up the atmosphere. It’s your State House.

Reps Hall (800x600) (640x480)

Learn the basics of testifying before the legislature. The Diocese of Manchester is one resource.

When politicians say “women’s health” when they mean “funding abortion providers”, call them out. Every. Single. Time

U.S. Senators and Members of Congress take office January 3. On that day, email or write Carol Shea-Porter, Ann Kuster, Jeanne Shaheen, and Maggie Hassan with your good wishes. Identify yourself as a pro-life New Hampshire voter.

The week of January 22 (anniversary of Roe v. Wade), go to your federal representatives’ local offices and introduce yourself to the staff. Deliver a short, upbeat pro-life message.

Send President Trump a pro-life message on Inauguration Day via email or phone.

Personally invite someone you know to join you when you attend a hearing or a rally or when you stop by a politician’s office.

Tell your own story. You have one: caring for a fragile loved one, experiencing a challenging pregnancy, witnessing on the sidewalk, living with a disabling condition, any number of things. Share what you know. Get comfortable doing that. Then be willing to tell your story to legislators and policymakers.

Commit to public witness.

  • Be part of New Hampshire’s march for life on January 14. Watch nhrtl.org for more details. There will be events that day beginning as early as 9 a.m. If you can do only one thing, go for the midday march that begins at the State House. Bring your kids, and bundle up.
  • Attend the March for Life in Washington on January 27. If you can’t afford the trip, donate a dollar or two to someone who’s going,  as a token of solidarity and encouragement.
  • Participate in a prayer vigil outside an abortion facility.  If you can make a weekly or monthly commitment, so much the better. See nhrtl.org for a list of ongoing events statewide with contact information.
hundreds strong at the 2013 March for Life in Concord
March for Life in Concord

“Like” and follow Manchester, New Hampshire’s 40 Days for Life Facebook page. 

Arrange a carpool to Concord the day of a hearing on a life-issue bill. Hearing dates will be announced beginning in January.

If you are a health care professional, prepare to testify to public officials in defense of the right to life. I assure you that your colleagues with different views are already active.

Attend conferences like the one recently sponsored by the Diocese of Manchester on “Understanding Human Trafficking and What You Can Do.”

If your health care provider isn’t standing up for the right to life for each human being regardless of age, health, or condition of dependency, find another provider for 2017. Let the old one know why you’re leaving.

If you’re upset about any aspect of this election or someone’s reaction to it, get over it.  Every moment spent in recrimination is a moment wasted.

Be charitable, decisive, and relentless.

In political terms, be pro-life like it’s your job – because it is.

Jennifer Robidoux on Pennacook Street
Peaceful prolife witness on Pennacook Street


Edited to update links.