Respect for life goes without saying – or does it? Red State 2013, day 2

After spending two days amid Republicans and conservative independents at Red State Gathering in 2013 in New Orleans, I can report on my reality check. Either everyone there was so pro-life that it didn’t bear mentioning, or else everyone there was so taken with urgent matters like Obamacare and IRS overreach that the right to life is out at the edge of the political radar screen. Take that for what it’s worth. This was not a life-themed event, and one reason I came was to hear what candidates said when they weren’t prompted to make a generic me-too pro-life statement.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas (photo by Ellen Kolb)
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas (photo by Ellen Kolb)

Halfway through Day 2 at Red State, Texas Governor Rick Perry got his half-hour at the mic. He only took about 15 minutes for his statement, leaving the rest for Q&A. He crammed a lot into those fifteen minutes: a pitch for businesses to come to Texas, a review of the state’s economic growth on his watch, a verbal shot at “an Administration that’s aimless abroad and arrogant at home,” and – oh, happy day – a defense of the right to life. Calling the unborn “our most vulnerable citizens,” he said “We protect life in the state of Texas.” He’s proud of the new law restricting post-20-week abortions and requiring higher safety standards for abortion facilities.

About time, I thought. Once Friday’s opening prayer was out of the way, neither abortion-minded women nor their children made it into the speeches until Governor Perry got up to the podium.

A few candidates from around the country who spoke after Gov. Perry also mentioned the right to life. Watch these names as you browse the news during election season next year: Art Halvorson, candidate for Congress from Pennsylvania; Rob Maness, candidate for Senate from Louisiana (now there’s a red-meat conservative); Greg Brannon, candidate for Senate from North Carolina. They’re all Republicans. Red State means to keep Republicans honest. That’s apparently enough of a job without trying to convert Democrats on the life issues or anything else.

What got the most attention from speakers and attendees alike? The problems with Obamacare, which certainly have pro-life implications … the IRS scandal, not a phony one whatever Jay Carney may be telling me, that leaves me wondering how little I have to do to attract inappropriate attention from a taxing authority … government spending and the next debt ceiling vote … immigration and border security.

All those matters are urgent, to be sure. I worry, though, about how many important matters will be crowded out of political debate because they lack that urgency. Roe has been with us for forty years. Abortion is more or less legal in all 50 states, and every regulation that passes, no matter how minor, brings forth screams from abortion advocates. Even Gosnell’s horrors have already faded from the front pages, replaced by profiles of the woman in pink sneakers who put her abortion advocacy right out there when she tried to filibuster to death Texas’s 20-week bill. Where legal and unrestricted abortion is part of the fabric of the contemporary Democratic party, the issue of abortion is more like white noise within today’s Republican party. Those who want to ignore it, do so.

Imagine pro-life Republicans being attacked, and maybe losing office, because of their stands on the “urgent” stuff. This will be in primaries, mind you. It’s going to happen in 2014 and 2016 without strong pushback from pro-life voters of all political persuasions.

So does being pro-life go without saying among Republicans? No. Do independents care? This one sure does.

Abby Johnson: “what do I deserve?”

Reblogging other people’s posts twice in a week is something I try to avoid. What Abby Johnson writes at the link below, however, dovetails nicely with Catherine Adair’s post that I reblogged a couple of days ago. Calls to compassion are worth repeating. So are first-person accounts by pro-life activists who used to work at abortion facilities. If you’re not familiar with Abby, this post is a good introduction.

http://www.abbyjohnson.org/tell-me-what-do-i-deserve/

NH Reps, what does Ohio know that we don’t?

This week’s news includes the story of three women and one child in Cleveland, Ohio, liberated from years of captivity and abuse at the hands of a kidnapper.  Among the charges likely to be filed against the kidnapping suspect, Ariel Castro, is “aggravated murder.” He allegedly raped the women, and one has told police that when she became pregnant, he beat and starved her until she miscarried. Unlawfully terminating a woman’s pregnancy against her will, “with prior calculation and design,” is aggravated murder in Ohio.

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/09/18145259-prosecutor-will-seek-murder-charges-for-terminated-pregnancies-in-kidnap-case

What would New Hampshire call that act? Assault on the mother, certainly, but prosecutors would have no tools for filing charges for the death of the preborn child. Eleven months ago, the House failed to override John Lynch’s veto of a fetal homicide bill.

In view of the news from Ohio, New Hampshire legislators ought to lay the groundwork for another try at fetal homicide legislation.

 

One woman’s change of heart – a story to share

Jennifer Fulwiler wrote this candid account of her gradual shift from being pro-choice to being pro-life, published in National Catholic Register and reposted on LifeSiteNews.com. I share it here because her journey is not altogether conventional, and she describes it in a tone that doesn’t sound like it went through a ghostwriter or heavy-handed editor. Glean what you can, and I hope you’ll share what you find valuable.

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/why-my-support-for-abortion-was-based-on-loveand-lies/

Eat your heart out, Fox News: follow me to CPAC for pro-life coverage

I’ll be taking Leaven slightly-outside the Beltway later this week, as I head to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland from Thursday through Saturday, March 14-15-16. There will be hundreds of reporters and bloggers there to follow every word from the rock stars at the main podium. I’m less interested in the rock stars, fascinating though they may be, than I am in the pro-lifers at the event. I am also interested in how politicians who spent all last year calling social issues a “distraction” talk about the pro-life movement now.

Why am I heading down there when I’m not getting paid? Because I honestly believe pro-lifers need to keep an ear to the ground and do their own reporting when politicians have a gathering like this. With all due respect to legacy media and conservative bloggers, news and commentary of interest to pro-life voters often gets lost in the shuffle. What I’ll be watching and listening for:

  • Who mentions social issues in a speech, and who doesn’t? Who writes off or scolds pro-lifers, or uses that dreaded d-word (“Distraction”)?
  • Do any of these potential candidates and policy wonks understand the religious liberty threat posed by Obamacare? Will any of them attack the HHS mandate, which by the way would be a winning issue for any candidate with the gumption to use it?
  • What’s the buzz about New Hampshire’s First-In-The-Nation primary? Many of these speakers will be making the rounds of our Old Home Days in a couple of years, if not earlier. Do they appreciate our state’s role in the process? [Post-CPAC note: this wasn’t addressed at the sessions I attended.]
  • There are three tiers of speakers and presentations at CPAC going on simultaneously, and some of the most interesting events are the less-heralded ones. That’s where the life-issue presentations are hidden, for the most part. I want to shine a light on them.
  • What’s in the exhibit hall, away from the cameras and mics?

And so forth. While I’ll be working from a schedule, I expect to improvise. Major media will cover the A-list speakers, so if I miss Donald Trump in favor of a panel on Obamacare, I won’t worry.

Pro-life, conservative, and Republican are not the same thing, although there is significant overlap. I have a stake in each camp, as a pro-life independent (and recovering Republican) who is conservative in many but not all respects. That’s the perspective I’m bringing to the party this weekend. CPAC is sponsored by the American Conservative Union, its main speakers are high-profile Republicans, and once-and-future candidates for high office will strut their stuff in front of thousands of activists, pitching for votes. I expect to be in blogger heaven.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte is one of the featured speakers Friday morning. [An earlier version of this post mentioned state Rep. Marilinda Garcia as one of the emcees; an updated schedule does not show her name.]

My apologies in advance to my email subscribers; I don’t mean to spam you. I will liveblog each day, and I hope not every update will trigger a message to your inbox. In addition, I’ll have special-feature posts as coverage demands.

Please leave me a comment in the weekend’s posts if you have any questions. You can also contact me via Twitter, @nhflatlander. You can follow Leaven by clicking the button on the blog’s home page, or “like” the Leaven for the Loaf page on Facebook. Tell your friends, too.