Virtual March for Life and Related Events

In lieu of the usual March for Life in Washington this year, the national March for Life team has scheduled several online events. Other groups whose gatherings usually coincide with the March are doing likewise. Some require registration for online viewing. All times listed are Eastern Standard Time.

March for Life Education & Defense Fund

Thursday, January 28: Capitol Hill 101. A free seminar about lobbying elected representatives at federal, state, and local levels. At the time of this post, openings were still available for viewings at noon and 5 p.m. Register here.

Friday, January 29, noon: Virtual March for Life Rally. The rally will be live-streamed. RSVP for a link to the coverage.

Friday, January 29, 7 p.m.: Rose Dinner Gala, with keynote speaker Tim Tebow. Fix your own dinner, & enjoy the speakers online. Tickets are $25.

Alternatives to the “side rallies”

During my last three trips to the national March for Life, I skipped the main rally in favor of the New Wave Feminists gathering in front of the Air and Space Museum. I meet people I don’t ordinarily hear from, who have experiences very different from mine. All we have in common is that we’re pro-life human beings. I’ll miss them this year. I’m guessing – but this isn’t a sure thing – that NWF and some other groups will have something going on via Facebook at midday on the 29th. Pages: New Wave Feminists, Democrats for Life of America, Rehumanize International, Secular Pro-Life.

Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life

This annual event is the nation’s largest student-run pro-life event, thanks to the work of students at Georgetown University in Washington. It will take place online via Zoom on Saturday, January 30 with keynote speaker Aimee Murphy of Rehumanize International. Panelists include Reggie Littlejohn of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and Sister Deidre Byrne, among other distinguished activists.

Registration for the Zoom conference costs $10. Best deal you’ll find all day.

Be sure to check out the Conference’s Facebook page, which already has some speakers’ videos posted.

I wrote about the 2018 O’Connor conference with some impressions of the day.

National Review Institute: Reframing End-of-Life Care During COVID

Wednesday, January 27 at 6 p.m., the National Review Institute and the Catholic Information Center will host an online panel discussion of what moderator Kathryn Jean Lopez calls “the need for a revolution of love in end-of-life care.” For more information and registration (free) go to the event page at cicdc.org.

40 Days for Life Sign-Up Day

The next 40 Days for Life campaign begins on February 17. National 40DFL leadership is observing the virtual March for Life by declaring January 29 “Sign-Up Day” and encouraging people to spend part of the day in peaceful witness outside an abortion facility.

New Hampshire will have campaigns in four locations: Manchester, Concord, Greenland, and Keene. For more information, go to 40daysforlife.com and search for the location nearest you.

Header photo by Ellen Kolb.

“Go Back To The Drawing Board” on HHS Mandate

I was privileged to be invited to speak on behalf of Cornerstone Policy Research at today’s Standing Up for Religious Freedom rally in Concord. I hope the other speakers will post their remarks as well, and if they do, I’ll link to them. We saw a lot of thumbs-up from  drivers going past. Apparently, the message is getting out there, even in Concord. Here are the remarks I delivered.

June 2012: religious freedom rally in Concord (with Catherine Adair)
June 2012: religious freedom rally in Concord (with Catherine Adair)

We’re gathering on the anniversary of a special day in our nation’s history. Two Hundred Twenty-Three years ago today, James Madison gave Congress his proposal for the Bill of Rights. We’re here today in defense of the very first clause in the First Amendment: protection of the free exercise of religion.

In March, Americans in 140 cities including Concord stood up for religious freedom, moved by the Health and Human Services Mandate. Today, people are standing up in 160 cities. More and more Americans recognize that the mandate is not about women and not about a particular church. It’s about the federal government effectively rewriting the First Amendment.

Start with health care plans in which we all must participate under penalty of law. Make “preventive care” free to a patient, with no co-pay. Further, include contraception, abortive drugs, and female sterilization in the list of what is “preventive”. The result of such a plan: we all subsidize these procedures for the women who choose to use them.

What if I embrace a religious belief that says these things are immoral? What if I run a business and want to provide health insurance to my employees without subsidizing these procedures? What if I’m a woman who rejects the bad science & bad medicine behind the belief that a healthy woman’s body needs chronic chemical alteration?

Our president and our secretary of health and human services say “too bad,” and Congress is so far nodding meekly. Agree that women’s fertility is a disease, or else pay a penalty, they say.

We say “Go back to the drawing board.”

Our current President and his HHS Secretary tried unsuccessfully to buy off the Catholic church in America with an “exemption” for religious employers. They even tried to tell that church what a religious employer looks like: a business operated by a certain religion that serves only those of the same religion.

Stop right there. You have no right to tell me what my faith means, and you may not penalize me or my employer or my church for acting on our beliefs.

This is critical. Voters are watching. Any policy that pushes any religion to the margins and seeks to extract a penalty from its adherents is unconstitutional. If one religion is threatened, we are all threatened.

The Administration is welcoming comments from the public on the mandate, until June 19.  Here’s my comment – the same one I made in March: my faith is not a crime, a woman’s fertility is not a disease, and this mandate has got to go.  

I don’t like using the term “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The fact is that this health care law is neither protective nor affordable. It claims to protect my family’s health, but does so at the price of our First Amendment protections. It claims to be affordable, but in fact by threatening the operation of the most extensive health care network in the country – the network of religiously-affiliated health care facilities – it will restrict access to health care and thus drive up costs. Poor women, single mothers, and children with chronic illnesses will be hit first and hardest. “Affordable” would be a sick joke.

What do I want to see? An end to the mandate. You think pregnancy is a disease and women’s fertility should be suppressed? Go ahead and act on those beliefs for yourself, and make a co-pay. If you think a co-pay is a war on women, wait until you hear from the women who know the mandate is a war on religion. Do not expect me to call contraception & sterilization & abortive drugs “preventive.” Do not threaten to penalize people of faith because of their faith. You exercise your beliefs and let me exercise mine. That’s right – turn the clock all the way back to January 2012.

I am grateful that New Hampshire’s people of faith are getting support from some elected officials. I am grateful to religious leaders who have spoken peacefully and relentlessly against the mandate   But you and I would be wrong to depend on anyone else to carry the banner for us. We will be wrong to depend on a political party to fix everything. We will be wrong to expect a pastor to do our work for us. We each need to claim the protection of the Bill of Rights, without apology. We each need make our case to our neighbors who don’t yet understand what the fuss is about. It’s up to you and me as Americans to let our leaders know that we will not trade away the First Amendment for our family’s medical security, and we take a very dim view any politician who thinks we should.

Don’t wait for media coverage of this event and this debate. BE the coverage. Keep spreading the news.

I make a special appeal to people of faith who oppose this mandate and are in one of two specific callings: professional health care, and caring at home for a loved one with medical challenges. People who are pushing for this mandate are counting on you to back them up, or at least to stay silent. This is not the time for silence. You have experience and credibility. Tell the world what you know about health care, and what you know about your faith, and why this mandate interferes with both.

We are not alone in speaking out. On May 21, 43 plaintiffs filed a total of twelve lawsuits in various U.S. District Courts. Yesterday, when the White House had an online town hall meeting on women’s health and invited people to submit questions via Facebook, women opposing the mandate took to the Internet in Droves. It was ironic that the video feed showed a room full of women all on board with the “Affordable” Care Act – while the women speaking out on the Facebook feed were nearly all opposed to it, with the mandate being the #1 concern.

Take the encouragement you find here today and bring it to your town, your neighbors, your pastors, and especially your elected representatives. Thank you.