The highlight reel: who “leavened the loaf” in 2015?

Your humble blogger spends New Year’s Eve taking a last look back before turning the page to 2016. Here’s what’s in view.

Greatest inspiration: David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress videos

David Daleiden speaking at Values Voters Summit 2015.. Photo by Ellen Kolb
David Daleiden speaking at Values Voters Summit 2015.. Photo by Ellen Kolb

The undercover work by David Daleiden’s team at Center for Medical Progress was a public service. What their detractors called “highly edited” videos are at this writing still available on the CMP web site, unedited, with transcripts.

In the videos, Planned Parenthood employees and contractors were recorded haggling over the prices for various fetal body parts. (PP was eventually moved to announce that they’d stop the selling, although they’ll take “reimbursements.” Make of that what you will.) PP medical personnel were recorded talking about adapting abortion methods not for the benefit of the pregnant woman but in order to obtain certain intact fetal specimens. CMP published procurement logs from PP affiliates showing which fetal parts were “harvested” on certain days.

Daleiden came in for some criticism from pro-lifers who were afraid that the “ugh” factor from the baby-body-parts revelations obscured the fact that the children were being aborted in the first place. That wasn’t obscured at all, as far as I’m concerned. Furthermore, the videos played a significant role in keeping some taxpayer funds away from PP in New Hampshire for the time being (more about that below).

I heard David Daleiden speak at a September event. “The worth of a human being is far more than the sum of his or her body parts,” he said. “Carry these values forward. Continue to share these videos.”

And make more of them, he might have added.

New Hampshire Activists of the Year: New Hampshire Right to Life

For what it’s done this year to grow the pro-life movement, model peaceful advocacy, and fight in court for government transparency, I give top honors for 2015 to New Hampshire Right to Life as New Hampshire Activist of the Year.

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The U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to hear NHRTL’s case regarding a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents relating to the end-run federal funding acquired by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England after a 2011 PP contract proposal was rejected by the New Hampshire Executive Council.  To this day, the way those federal funds materialized has never been made public. NHRTL fought for the public’s right to know what happened.

In another case, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was ordered earlier this month to pay NHRTL’s legal costs in a state-level right-to-know case. NHRTL filed a request with DHHS seeking documents about DHHS’s licensing of Planned Parenthood to distribute an abortion-inducing drug and about PP’s adherence to federal FDA protocol in dispensing the drug. DHHS responded with delays and redacted documents that were tantamount to denial of the right-to-know request. That didn’t play well in court. NHRTL president Jane Cormier said, “It was clear Planned Parenthood and the NH Dept. of Health and Human Services worked together to try to thwart a legitimate Right to Know request from NHRTL…. NH DHHS broke the law when it did not enforce a simple right to know request….It is our hope that in the future, Planned Parenthood will not receive unfair advantage and support from the New Hampshire Dept. of Health and Human Services.”

I noticed something whenever I attended an event this year that was organized or co-sponsored by NHRTL: new faces. That’s a reflection of an effective outreach program. The annual march for life in Concord is a NHRTL event. The group played an important role in organizing the Women Betrayed and #ProtestPP rallies. When PP held a State House rally, NHRTL led a peaceful and effective counter-demonstration. You get the idea.

Long ago, I was on the NHRTL board, but I am not now a member of the group. I’m just another New Hampshire pro-lifer, and I can’t help but see that this year NHRTL has been on the scene at important moments – and it has created some of those moments itself.

Best speakers – and a new event

I hesitate to say “best” in a year when so many excellent pro-life people made presentations in the Granite State. I’m highlighting two speakers who defend life in places we usually don’t hear much about.

When I was invited to speak at the Bringing America Back to Life – New England conference in July, I had no idea how great the other presentations would be. Two speeches in particular that I wish I’d videotaped: New Hampshire’s Kelly Roy Williams on Illuminating Love, her ministry in response to human trafficking, and Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, on gendercide and forced abortions in China. (Hear her interview on the Eric Metaxas Show.) Powerful women, powerful stories.

If you ever hear that Kelly or Reggie will be speaking in your area, reserve a seat. It’ll be worth it. And here’s hoping that the Bringing America Back to Life team puts on another program in ’16.

Best local video: “A Tale of Two Tragedies” by students at Immaculate Heart of Mary school, Still River, MA

Not your ordinary class project. 

Most popular posts on the blog this year

Eric Metaxas (photo: Ellen Kolb)
Eric Metaxas (photo: Ellen Kolb)

Eric Metaxas on religion in public life. From the prolific author’s convocation address at University of the South: “So the story of faith is and must always be the story of faith in public life. We are not to hide our light under a bushel. And if shining our light comes with a price, so be it.”

NH Rallies for an end to taxpayer funding of PP.  Coverage of the August #ProtestPP rally in Manchester was nicely augmented by photographs from Matthew Lomanno and Jennifer Robidoux – my thanks to both.

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The ribbon created by the family of Griffin Kenison.

Rep. Leon Rideout re-introduces Griffin’s Law. “He reminded the committee that his grandson would not have been the only one affected had a New Hampshire fetal homicide bill been in place already. He read aloud a list of the names of children whose deaths counted for nothing under current law. A lot of families are reflected in those names.”

Top tweet

Biggest State House disappointment

The failure to pass fetal homicide legislation was all the more frustrating because passage was so close – not as close as 2012, but close nonetheless. I am grateful to Rep. Leon Rideout and Sen. Regina Birdsell for championing the two bills that were introduced this year. Rideout’s bill is still alive for 2016, although Senate blockage looms. That was the fate of Birdsell’s bill. There are House members who blame the Senate for that, and there are Senate members who blame the House. Anger at or between any of the sponsors is misplaced. I say get over it. I stand more firmly than ever by what I wrote after the failure of the conference committee on SB 40.

I’m going to maintain the blog’s page on the whole sorry saga until New Hampshire finally gets with the program and passes a fetal homicide law. The Crucitti and Rideout families are waiting.

Best State House news: the Executive Council says No to NH’s largest abortion provider

For the second time since 2011, the Executive Council voted down a contract with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The lobbyist for PPNNE (a $20 million organization) warned that denying the $638,000-over-two-years contract would endanger health care for 12,000 women. Apparently, three of the Councilors read PP’s financial reports included in the contract bid, and noticed that this warning was coming from an agency that spent $1.5 million on public policy in 2014.

But it wasn’t the math that doomed the contract; it was the CMP videos. Councilors Joe Kenney and Chris Sununu both acknowledged as much in explaining their votes. “I’ve watched that video cover to cover with no edits,” said Sununu. “I’m pro-choice, but that’s not the issue here.” Kenney added, “I’m not comfortable voting for anything with Planned Parenthood’s name on it. And the people against this contract that I got calls from were women.” Thumbs down, with only Councilors Van Ostern and Pappas supporting PP’s bid.

Two less-controversial abortion providers were awarded smaller contracts that day on 4-1 votes, with Sununu and Kenney joining Van Ostern and Pappas. Only Dave Wheeler stoutly refused to vote to hand taxpayer dollars to abortion agencies, regardless of whether or not they were in the baby-parts business.

Which brings us to …

Best extemporaneous speech by a politician (or pretty much anyone else)

NH Executive Councilor David Wheeler
NH Executive Councilor David Wheeler

At the Women Betrayed rally at the State House in July, Executive Councilor Dave Wheeler got straight to the point when he was offered the mic.

“We [Councilors] are starting to get these nice notes from Planned Parenthood here. They’ve got flowers on them, and a sticker, and they say ‘don’t defund women’s services.’ You know, it’s kind of funny that they’re embarrassed to say ‘don’t defund abortion.’ They won’t say it, but that’s what our issue is. We’re not against cancer screenings or the other things. Just stop doing the evil, and maybe we could support the good you do.”

I put that on Facebook, and it became the year’s top post on the Leaven for the Loaf page.

Honorable mention video: 3% of PP’s services are abortion? “It’s a blatant lie,” says Abby Johnson

Very casually produced, but informative, and worth bookmarking for future reference:

Favorite unscheduled U.S. stop by a Pope

Pope Francis stopped to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor, who would be very relieved if the U.S. government would just let them care for the elder poor without paying for anyone’s contraception along the way.

This is the same Pope who was asked in April about people bringing their faith in God into the public policy arena. “Do I as a Catholic watch from my balcony? No, you can’t watch from the balcony. Get right in there!” he said.

Point taken.


 

How PPNNE got its Manchester building – and how a Federal Court helped

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Part 1: the local view, from the prolifers on the scene

These are excerpts from an article in the July 2001 edition of New Hampshire Right to Life News. I was on the NHRTL board at that time, and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England was trying to set up shop in Manchester. The article I am excerpting was written by Manchester pro-life activists who were involved in the fight to prevent anyone from opening an abortion facility on a Manchester residential street. My own comments are set off in brackets.

Planned Parenthood vs. City of Manchester and NH Right to Life, from July 2001 NHRTL News

[no byline; article is accompanied by photos of Barbara Hagan, Rep. Kathy Souza, and Betty Breuder, calling them the “leadership team opposing Planned Parenthood’s proposed abortuary in Manchester”]

It was over a year ago in April of 2000, when Dick Anagnost, a Manchester developer and Steve Schubert, his partner, hired an Engineer to obtain a variance changing a former auto parts/retail building. The building was located in an R3 Zoned area of the city.This meant that the area was zoned for multi-family residential. The auto parts retail had been vacant for some time. Still, in order to obtain a different use for the building, the owners needed a Variance. The street in question is Pennacook Street located off Elm Street in Manchester’s northern end.

If you travel to Pennacook Street, you can see that it is residential, with many multi-family dwellings.There are a few businesses, but even they are considered low-key. There is an accountant on the corner of Pennacook and Chestnut, a deserted gas station on one of the corners of Elm and Pennacook, and a small variety store up the street. Basically, the building in question faces several multi family residential dwellings. There are numerous small children that play on the sidewalks and in the street. There is no buffer zone, per se. The building basically sits next to the sidewalk that abuts the street. There is also an off-street parking area.

So, the process began. The Zoning Board met and heard the petition of the owners of the building at 24 Pennacook Street to convert the auto parts building into a “4.03(28)b medical use office.” This italicized phrase is extremely important to remember. Manchester has many different zoning variances that are all given numbers and definitions. This particular number, 4.03(28)b refers to a “Business, professional and general offices, including but not limited to: Bank, broker, employment agency, insurance, lawyer, doctor, etc.”  Nowhere in this definition does the phrase “medical offices” appear.

The phrase “medical offices” is part of another Variance definition, with a totally different meaning and impact. Under the former definition 4.03(27), one will find “Offices of licensed medical or dental practitioners, but limited to general out-patient care and diagnosis of patients.” This means medical offices with outpatient care, and could include walk-in patients who do not have appointments.

The use of the building in the request, as presented to the public and the Zoning Board, would be considered on how it impacts the neighborhood that is already there. In order to obtain any variance, the owner of the building has to meet several important criteria. These criteria are: (1) The proposed use would not diminish the surrounding property values; (2) That granting the Variance would be in the public interest; (3) The denial of the Variance would mean unnecessary hardship to the owner because he could not use the building for anything else; (4) That substantial justice would be done by granting the Variance; and (5) That granting the Variance would not be contrary to the Spirit of the Zoning Ordinance.

The owners of the building were very clever, or so they thought. They hired an agent by the name of Todd Connors, to fill out the Variance Application on their behalf. An Engineer by the name of Ken Rhodes gave the presentation to the Zoning Board. The request they made for the variance deliberately mixed two different definitions, that of 4.03(28)b and 4.03(27). The Zoning Board, apparently, looked upon the variance request as for a doctor’s office. Mr. Anagnost, one of the owners, did show up late to the Zoning Board hearing on the night of April 5, 2000, but he offered no information.

When directly asked, “What was going in there?” Neighbors were told, “two or three doctors (general practitioners) and their staff.” This answer is in line with the 4.03(28)b Variance definition. Therefore, no neighbors felt it necessary to come to the Variance hearing. The new use, as stated, did not pose any threat to the peace and security of the neighborhood. The Zoning Board asked the same question. “What exactly is going in there?” The Engineer replied, “two or three doctors … and their staff.” The ZBA granted the variance.
It was all very quiet in the neighborhood, until the real identity of the real use of the building was revealed. Up until the Variance had been granted, no mention was made of Planned Parenthood or a clinic.

You have probably read the accounts in the Manchester Union Leader, Concord Monitor and other newspapers. [Note: the Union Leader broke the story of bulletproof windows being installed at 24 Pennacook Street during this time, which gave rise to speculation about the nature of the business about to move in.] You have no doubt heard Pro Life Activists, Barbara Hagan and Rep. Kathleen Souza discussing the issue on local radio and television programs. They have filed an appeal in the Hillsborough County Superior Court challenging the Variance and alleging that fraud may have been involved….Remember that no Building Plan with bulletproof glass was presented to the public until after the Variance was granted and the building permit application was submitted.

Planned Parenthood wasted no time in Manchester, New Hampshire. They were not about to be made to follow the Zoning Laws. They are afraid of the action Hagan and Souza have filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court challenging the Variance. Planned Parenthood immediately grabbed the spot light and went to Federal District Court in Concord, New Hampshire to try to claim their Civil Rights had been violated.

Manchester city officials have not been very dynamic in enforcing the zoning laws or fighting this clinic….The City Attorney …supposedly forgot to file papers in Federal Court and almost lost the case on default. In his second order from Judge McAuliffe, he called the City Attorney “mute” with respect to a defense against the claims Planned Parenthood and the owners of the building made. The City offered no defense. They offered no witnesses. They offered no documents to tell the judge why Planned Parenthood could not have the use of the building at 24 Pennacook Street. The Judge had no choice, but to allow Planned Parenthood the rights to regain its building permits and continue building, for now.

Fortunately, New Hampshire Right to Life also followed Planned Parenthood into Federal Court. We asked the judge to allow us to intervene and participate in the case. As one of our reasons, we told the judge we felt the City of Manchester would not put up a very good fight.

The judge allowed us to intervene, but neglected to mail us our notice to the April 20, 2001 hearing before the Court. It was not good news, but it provided us with an opportunity to ask the Court to reconsider its decision to let Planned Parenthood go forward with the 24 Pennacook Street project. We have explained to the Federal Court that this is not a matter of Civil Rights. It is a matter of the wrong Variance. We are currently awaiting his reconsideration, and thank everyone for his or her continued prayers. [Unfortunately the reconsideration did not change the original decision.]

On April 27, 2001, Souza and Hagan, and the abutters to 24 Pennacook Street appeared in Hillsborough County Superior Court. The Judge in Superior Court, Arthur Brennan has already ruled that a “Family planning clinic appears to be a different use.” His recent decision, following the April 27 hearing is a green light in our favor.

…[W]e must prove that the applicant did not provide reasonable warning so that abutters or interested parties could have knowledge enough to appear at the ZBA hearing and object. We have to prove that the applicant knew Planned Parenthood was going to be the tenant. We also must prove that Planned Parenthood is a legally different use than that which is provided in the Manchester Zoning Ordinance definition.

If the notice to the Public was sufficient, then our petition will be denied by the Superior Court. If the notice was not sufficient, and there was fraud, then the Variance is void and Planned Parenthood will not be allowed to open on Pennacook Street. ..

[Note: as we now know, and as is outlined in the federal order below, PPNNE was indeed allowed to open on Pennacook StreetThe federal court order on civil rights grounds superceded any state Superior Court action on procedural grounds.]

Part 2:  United States District Court preliminary injunction

The case is Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and 24 Pennacook Street LLC v. City of Manchester (not reported in F.Supp.2d).  The full preliminary ruling, handed down 4/27/01, is seven pages long. These brief excerpts are from the court’s preliminary granting of the injunction sought by PPNNE in U.S. District Court. While intervenor status was granted later to some pro-life parties as described in part 1 above, the court’s final order was in PP’s favor. The following excerpted text is from the preliminary order, without edits (except for ellipses) or comment. Footnotes are omitted.

…Plaintiffs’ application for preliminary injunctive relief was heard on April 20, 2001….[T]he following pertinent facts were developed. The Owner obtained a variance under under the applicable city zoning ordinance which allowed the building at issue (formerly used as an auto parts store) to be used for “medical offices.” The city contends, however, that it was under the impression, in granting the variance, that the permitted “medical office” use would involve two to three “general practitioners” and associated staff. It further contends that a restriction to that effect is necessarily implicit in the variance actually issued. (On its face, the variance is not conditional.) After obtaining the variance, the Owner entered into a lease with PPNNE for most of the building’s space. PPNNE and the Owner also entered into an agreement to fit the leased space for a medical office use.

Building plans were submitted to the Building Commissioner, who, after reviewing the plans and insuring compliance with the medical office use authorized by the variance, issued a building permit. After obtaining the building permit, the Owner and PPNNE made arrangements to finance and complete the necessary construction work.

Several months later, in the fall of 2000, PPNNE publicly announced its intent to occupy the building and provide medical services to the residents of greater Manchester, including family planning and, at some future date, abortion services. That announcement provoked some public opposition to Planned Parenthood’s use of the building, and various people sought relief from the Zoning Board of Adjustment. By a divided vote, the ZBA revoked the building permit on January 3, 2001, after hearing from interested parties and members of the public. Plaintiffs then filed this suit seeking to remedy what they see as an unconstitutional deprivation of federal rights under color of state law.

…Discussion: The first point of significance is that the ZBA’s reasons for revoking the building permit are unknown, because they are undisclosed. The board made no findings of fact and provided no explanation for revoking the permit, either orally in the record (in the minutes), or by written decision.

…The next point of significance is (and the city agrees) that the variance permitting the Owner to use the property in question as a medical office remains in effect, unmodified….[T]he refitting plans submitted by the Owner and PPNNE to the Building Commissioner describe work that, when completed, will be entirely consistent with the medical office use authorized by the variance, as the city itself construes the variance.

The city’s counsel also agreed, necessarily and correctly, that the variance sought for the medical office use could not have been lawfully or constitutionally denied based merely upon the identity of the Owner’s tenant, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, nor on the basis that abortion services would be provided as part of the “general practice” of medicine on the site (whether by PPNNE or a “general practice physician”). The minutes of the January 3, 2000, ZBA meeting suggest some confusion on the part of ZBA members as to the effect of constitutional limits on their municipal authority – but it is by now clear that personal opposition to abortion or personal disapproval of Planned Parenthood’s activities cannot serve as a lawful basis for denying a variance or making other zoning decisions.

…Irreparable injury: The ZBA’s decision to revoke the building permit significantly impacts upon plaintiffs’ fundamental and constitutionally protected rights, and the burden imposed is more than de minimus. By revoking the permit, the ZBA halted construction of medical offices which are entirely consistent with a currently authorized use of the building pursuant to the existing variance – even as the city perceives and construes that variance.

The ZBA’s decision to revoke the building permit unquestionably results in irreparable injury to plaintiffs, as well as PPNNE’s patients. By revoking the permit, the ZBA significantly interrupted and delayed PPNNE’s patients’ ability to consider and obtain family planning, contraceptive, and at some point, abortion services, by delaying PPNNE’s (as yet) legitimate occupancy of the building. Because the burden imposed on plaintiffs’ fundamental rights is more than de minimus, strict scrutiny applies. …Absent injunctive relief, plaintiffs’ protected constitutional rights would continue to be abridged and plaintiffs (and their patients) will continue to suffer irreparable injury.

…Accordingly, the City of Manchester, its Zoning Board of Adjustment, their employees, agents, servants, attorneys, and anyone acting for or in concert with them, are hereby preliminary enjoined from:

  1. revoking the building permit issued to the plaintiff Owner;
  2. seeking to enforce any cease and desist order issued relative to construction carried out pursuant to the building permit previously issued to the Owner;
  3. interfering with or frustrating completion of the construction project authorized by the previously issued building permit; and
  4. taking any enforcement action whatsoever based upon or related to the ZBA’s revocation of the previously issue building permit.

SO ORDERED.

NH’s most underrated pro-life activists, and other 2013 attaboys

No trophies, no certificates on parchment, no red carpet: just credit where it’s due.EOY post clip

“at·ta·boy (noun): a piece of encouragement or congratulations.”

Most underrated activists

New Hampshire’s most underrated pro-life activists for 2013: Cathy Kelley and the volunteers at the Pray for Life Center in Manchester. I don’t choose them for the Center itself or for the Pennacook Pregnancy Center they’re developing. Instead, I note their unique contribution to moving New Hampshire past Roe v. Wade: the weekly written account of what the volunteers see outside PP on “abortion days.”  PFLC’s updates keep me mindful of the sheer number of people involved in an abortion besides the child: a mother, usually just wanting to get into the building without talking to anyone; a companion, sometimes a boyfriend, often willing to talk (politely or not) with people praying on the sidewalk; the provider with out-of-state plates coming in for the day’s work; occasionally an ambulance crew, perhaps following up on a complication about which public health authorities will hear nothing.

The state of New Hampshire isn’t documenting anything about abortion. With their anecdotes and observations, as limited and sketchy as they must be, PFLC volunteers try to fill in some blanks.

Honorable mention

Michael Tierney (facebook.com photo)
Michael Tierney (facebook.com photo)

Attorney Michael Tierney and the New Hampshire Right to Life Committee have persistently tried to find out if PPNNE is held to the same standards as other HHS contractors when it comes to dispensing prescription drugs. Their inquiries date back to the 2011 Title X contract dispute. This is the off-the-radar stuff of administrative hearings and oft-delayed court dates. The New Hampshire Supreme Court will hear arguments next month on whether NHRTL has any standing to challenge the state Board of Pharmacy’s decisions regarding PPNNE.

A post about the same team: Pro-life doctors, ADF call on NH to investigate PPNNE’s use of chemical abortion drugs

Biggest legislative surprise

New Hampshire State House
State House, Concord (E. Kolb photo)

With a pro-abortion majority in the New Hampshire House, passage of a resolution cheering for the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision looked like a foregone conclusion last January. Instead, HR 6 died with a whimper after being tabled in March. The committee hearing on the bill ended with an all-but-unheard-of tie vote, and the resolution went to the full House without recommendation. The House voted 239-111 (without a roll call) to table the resolution, and it died when the House adjourned in June. 

In the March 15 House Calendar, Rep. Don LeBrun (R-Nashua) was allotted a paragraph to sum up the arguments against the resolution. He rose to the occasion:

“Americans are sharply divided on the issue of abortion. HR 6 will further divide the House of Representatives and citizens of New Hampshire. The resolution serves no end, other than a political one. It will inflict unnecessary emotional stress on those who have chosen to have an abortion and now regret their action. While legal, this resolution in essence, celebrates the destruction of over [50] million pre-born children. It sends a message to our youth, that life is meaningless, and may be terminated when they see no value in life.”

(The calendar contained a misprint, reporting 500 million dead instead of 50 million since Roe.)

Earlier Leaven posts on HR 6: NH Pro-Roe Resolution is Full of Contradictions, Surprise! NH Roe Resolution: Tie Vote in Committee, NH House Pro-Roe Resolution Tabled

Honorable mention, legislators

Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton), at 2013 Concord March for Life
Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton), at 2013 Concord March for Life

The same day and time that HR 6 had its hearing before the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs committee, an informed consent bill was being heard down the hall in Judiciary. Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton) introduced HB 483, the Abortion Information Act, which was killed on a roll call vote the same day HR 6 was tabled. (See the breakdown of the 229-121 vote here. The motion was “inexpedient to legislate,” so a “yes” vote was a vote to kill the bill.) HB 483 was co-sponsored by Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack). Cormier and Peterson did their best to make the case that women’s health should get more attention. “Pro-choice means pro-information,” said Cormier to her colleagues before the vote. Unfortunately, she was dealing with a tough crowd.

Cormier’s bill called for regulation of abortion facilities in a manner consistent with Roe. Nothing in her bill would have undermined a “right” to abortion. Abortion advocates fought the bill anyway, thus demonstrating what extremism looks like, if anyone running for office in ’14 wishes to take notice.

Earlier posts about HB 483: Three things your rep should know about informed consent; NH House rejects informed consent again

Most worthwhile trip out of town

DSCF6433The national March for Life last January was the first one I’d been to in many years. My husband and I came to lend our voices to the hundreds of thousands of people who came to affirm life in the face of a pro-abortion government. We got more than we gave, as the huge number of high-school and college-age students showed us that the pro-life movement is growing in the rising generation. I give two thumbs up to everyone who helps arrange bus transportation for Marchers from New Hampshire.

Best reading

My favorite book this year was a 2007 publication. Eric Metaxas‘s Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery (HarperOne, 2007, ISBN 9780061173882) reminds me what real persistence looks like. Wilberforce spent most of his adult life attacking England’s participation in the slave trade. Two centuries later, the way he went about his work can serve as an example to anyone working to affirm the dignity of human life. I wrote a brief review of the book last spring.

Best  pro-life speakers

Speaking of Eric Metaxas, his speech at CPAC in Washington last March was one of the highlights of my trip there . After two days of hearing too-few conservative speakers give social issues their rightful place, Metaxas took the mic the final morning of the conference and absolutely rocked the house.

Star Parker
Star Parker

Locally, the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women invited Star Parker to keynote this year’s Lilac Luncheon in Nashua. Just … wow. An excerpt:

“The top three social crises confronting us are rooted in social matters: AIDS, abortion, and entire welfare state. …The first question conservatives should be asking is ‘what is wrong with our nation, and how do we fix it?’ Our nation was designed to be free under God, and we’ve lost our way.”

Finally …

I notice that Tierney and Cormier made my 2012 list, too, for different reasons. I hope they don’t mind.

Culture-of-life coverage in 2014 will inevitably include reports on political campaigns, with a U.S. Senate race on top of the usual New Hampshire contests. Through this blog, I’m committed to reporting on how candidates address the life issues, particularly for the Senate race. A year from now, it would be good if I were to need a category in my year-end post for “most surprising pro-life victory.”