On the March in D.C.

The 2020 March for Life in Washington will go down in the books as the first one ever addressed in person by the President of the United States. (You can see the video and read the transcript here, courtesy of the Susan B. Anthony List.) He brought more news coverage to the event – possibly just to cover his speech, but I’d like to think the March itself got more coverage as well.

I don’t need anyone to tell me how significant was the President’s presence. The March has gone on every year since 1974, and not even Ronald Reagan ever came in person. Yet I hope President Trump understands something: he has more to learn from the pro-life movement than the pro-life movement has to learn from him.

I did not go to the mainstage rally at the March. Many of the names on the schedule were already familiar to me. I was happy to yield my place on the Mall to someone who was hearing them – not to mention seeing the President – for the first time.

I went to a side rally. More like a meetup. We were all in sync as far as being pro-life, and beyond that we had all kinds of differences. (And that’s fine.) I met new people, heard their stories, learned new things. And then we marched.

Photo in post header: my view from the middle of the March. Photo by Ellen Kolb.

Notes For Your 2020 Calendar

This is a short list of a few pro-life-related events coming up in New Hampshire (plus one down in DC). I hope this inspires you to pencil in a few things on your calendar. The list is incomplete, but I hope you’ll find something useful. (One frequently-updated source of information is the @nhprolifevents page on Facebook.) I close out this final post of 2019 with a few words about the 2020 elections in New Hampshire.

January 4, Saturday: Epiphany vigil outside Planned Parenthood at 24 Pennacook Street in Manchester, 2:00-3:30 p.m., organized by the Manchester 40 Days for Life team. Bring gifts of diapers, wipes, and baby items for the Pennacook Pregnancy Center. A gathering at the pregnancy center will follow a vigil of prayer and hymns.

January 11, Saturday: New Hampshire March for Life, Concord. The march itself begins at the State House at 11:45 a.m., but that’s only one part of the event. Check out New Hampshire Right to Life’s web page with all the details.

January 18, Saturday: If the abortion advocacy of the New Hampshire Women’s March makes no sense to you, you’re not alone. Pro-lifers had a presence at last year’s march, and a similar gathering is planned for 1/18/20 in Concord.

January 24, Friday: National March for Life in Washington, DC. If you’re going, I hope I’ll see you there. If you’re not, I hope you’ll watch for my report from the march, probably including a brief Facebook Live update.

February 26 (Ash Wednesday) to April 5 (Palm Sunday): the next 40 Days for Life campaign, in three New Hampshire locations: Manchester, Concord, Greenland. Watch this blog’s Facebook page for shared updates from the campaign teams.

Elections: They’re Everywhere

Do you live in Hooksett? Do you know that there’s a special election being held to fill a state rep seat from your town? Well, there is. A three way Republican primary will be held on January 21 (Democrats fielded only one candidate), and the general election will be on March 10. You could ask the candidates something simple like “will you vote for a bill to protect children who survive attempted abortion?”

The New Hampshire First-in-the-Nation presidential primary is coming up on February 11, 2020. It’s no secret that there are lots of Democrats running. You might be surprised to know that a slew of Republicans are running as well. Check with your town clerk for information on sample ballots, absentee voting, and your eligibility to vote.

Your town and school district elections will be in the spring, with dates varying among towns. Don’t neglect these races. Among other things, the people who win in town elections often decide to run for higher office later. They show their form first at the local level. Pay attention.

Every state elective office, from state rep to state senator to Governor and Executive Councilor, PLUS a U.S. Senate seat, will be up for grabs in November, with the primaries for those races to be held in September. Have you ever wished that the New Hampshire House had more pro-life members? Well then, have you considered running? It’s a big decision and not one to take lightly. Don’t let that scare you. The filing period for candidates is in June.

With that thought, I’ll see you in the new year. Make it a good one.

Whirlwind March for Life in D.C.

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.

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.”

It’a an open-ended assignment.

Because This Isn’t Settled

The team at the national March for Life has invited people to post their own reasons for marching for life, using the hashtag #whywemarch. Check that out on Twitter and you’ll find some good material. Here’s my contribution, recorded in Concord just before the New Hampshire March for Life on January 12.

https://leavenfortheloaf.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/WhyWeMarch2019.mov

Why do I march? To let my elected officials close to home and in Washington know that debates over the right to life aren’t settled and aren’t over. We have work to do and we’ll keep at it.

The New Hampshire march took place under a beautiful blue sky on a 15° day. Afterward came the customary post-march gathering on South Main Street, where volunteers from Christ the King Parish had wonderful soups and sandwiches for everyone. Keynote speaker at the gathering was Neil Hubacker, whom I know through my work as a communications consultant with Cornerstone Action. I loved his theme of “Meeting the Unexplainable with the Unexpected,” illustrated by examples of New Hampshire people doing low-key things in pro-life ministry that are making a difference in people’s lives even if the headlines aren’t there. Encouraging stuff!

Photos & video by Ellen Kolb

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Reviewing 2018, Welcoming 2019

A New Year’s toast: to life! Thank you to the readers who have sustained Leaven for the Loaf, and thank you to everyone whose pro-life work has kept me inspired and challenged all along the way. Join me now as I pack away some artifacts of the year just ended.

The Posts

It’s a mixed bag of topics for the most-viewed posts of 2018.

  1. CareNet: John Oliver Gets It Wrong About Pregnancy Centers. When a late-night TV personality used his platform to criticize pro-life pregnancy care centers, CareNet’s CEO wasted no time setting him straight, with a video offering a positive response to a hostile report.
  2. Gallery: New Hampshire March for Life 2018. Speaker Jennifer Christie of Save the 1 shared her powerful story. March for Life, Concord, New Hampshire
  3. Gosnell: Film Review. In the hands of an inept screenwriter or the wrong director, this true-crime story could have gone badly awry.  The makers of Gosnell got it right. The film will be coming to on-demand video and DVD in early 2019.
  4. But Wait, There’s More. This was a brief report on an ill-advised bill that would have nullified New Hampshire’s parental notification law. The House later killed the bill.
  5. Rep. Jeanine Notter
    Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), sponsor of informed consent bill (HB 1707). Facebook photo.

    Trust Women, You Say? Start Here. Coverage of January’s hearing on a bill, HB 1707, that would have established comprehensive informed consent requirements for abortion.

  6. A Genteel Rant on Party Unity. In which I’m reminded (yet again) that political-party-linked activism is not always helpful in building a culture of life.
  7. Abortion Statistics: “Inexpedient to Legislate.” “Two hundred [N.H.] legislators voted like people who are afraid of evidence-based public health policy and afraid of political retribution from abortion providers.” Another statistics bill has been introduced for 2019.
  8. Slamming Shut a Doorway to Assisted Suicide. A state senator let slip that her proposed study committee on end-of-life issues was actually a path to an assisted suicide law. Her fellow senators took her at her word and killed her bill. A similar bill is on the way for the coming legislative session.
  9. Why I’m Voting No on Question 2. A ballot question about adding a “privacy” amendment to the state constitution passed, not long after I posted this cautionary message. Time will tell if my concerns had merit.
  10. Do Not Accept Anything As The Truth If It Lacks Love.” Wise words from St. Teresa Benedicta.from @USCCBFreedom

The Events

I reported from the state and national Marches for Life in 2018, and I plan to do the same in 2019. On January 12, less than two weeks from now, you can attend any portion of the day-long program of events that accompany the march in Concord. The March for Life in Washington will be held the following Friday, January 18.

Pro-life sign at March for Life in Washington.
“Life Chooses Us.” March for Life, Washington D.C., January 2018.

2018 brought two more 40 Days for Life campaigns. The next one is coming up in a little over a month, and you’ll be hearing more from me about that in the coming days.

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Ellen at PLWC 2018

I went to St. Louis, Missouri for the third annual Pro-Life Women’s Conference last June. The first PLWC in 2016 was organized by Abby Johnson and the team at And Then There Were None. Since then, the conference has grown to include a diverse group of speakers and attendees guaranteed to broaden the horizons of anyone working in the pro-life movement. For just one example, read the message from one of this year’s featured speakers, Savannah Marten: “We find the tables we need to be sitting at.”

The next Pro-Life Women’s Conference is scheduled for June 2019 in New Orleans. I’m already saving my pennies for it. Check out the event’s web site; you might want to make the trip, too.

Best Short Video: “Desperate Measures”

For media in 2018, the Gosnell film is in a class by itself. For short video, I was glad to find and share “Desperate Measures” by Sidewalk Advocates for Life.  Featuring former abortion workers who are now committed pro-lifers, the video is a direct response to recent sit-ins and “rescues” at abortion facilities. The message is don’t do it – and here’s the better way to carry out peaceful pro-life witness. 

Looking Ahead

I’ll be back at the State House to report on 2019 legislation including buffer zone repeal, abortion statistics, and death penalty repeal. I’ll venture to claim that since 2012, no other New Hampshire blog has covered life-issue bills in Concord to the extent attempted by this little enterprise called Leaven for the Loaf. I aim to keep it going.

When my travels lead me to inspirational people and places, you’ll hear about them.

Over a year ago, I had intended to publish an anthology of Leaven posts – and I’m glad I didn’t! The manuscript was not ready for prime time. In 2019, on a much more modest scale than first envisioned, the anthology will be ready.

As longtime readers will have noticed, Facebook and Twitter became significant extensions of the blog in 2018, especially during coverage of marches and conferences. If you’re not following those social media feeds yet, I invite you to do so.

The New Year is here. Let’s make the most of it.