Thirty minutes to look back, then turn the page

I often spend the morning after an election at a local coffee shop or diner. I invite politically-minded acquaintances. There’s one rule: whatever happened on Election Day, we take 30 minutes to crab and moan about any results worth crabbing and moaning about. Once the 31st minute hits, the post-mortem is over. We look to the future.

No one joined me this week. I still have my 30 minutes to go.

Quick review of this week’s election results: Members of New Hampshire’s federal delegation, abortion advocates all, were re-elected. New Hampshire’s enormously popular self-described pro-choice governor won big, in one of the most impressive results in the state, making him even more influential in the NHGOP than before. The 400-member New Hampshire House went from 213 Republican seats to just a shade over 200, depending on how recounts go. The New Hampshire Senate is narrowly Republican, short of the number needed to override any veto the governor might take it into his head to issue. The Executive Council is 4-1 Republican, with none of the Republicans getting more than 53.2% of a district’s vote.

Dobbs: mishandled

“…please, GOP, don’t screw this up by dodging Dobbs.” That was my plea in June after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. “Look for apocalyptic pronouncements from [Democrat] candidates about how Dobbs undermines women and threatens the Republic.” Check.  I added at the time that if Republican candidates tried to shift focus to inflation and the economy, they’d get what they deserved.

They sure did.

The Democratic Party up and down the ticket used abortion as its leading message, warning that women’s rights were at risk. No mention from them – or from Republicans, for that matter – of New Hampshire’s pro-life women. Federally, Republicans went with inflation as the main reason to vote GOP.

Here at home, how many Republicans did you hear talk about the risk to medical conscience rights if abortion-friendly candidates win? How many Republicans vowed to stand firm against public funding of abortion, including within Medicaid? How many talked about our state’s failure to report abortion statistics, which is a women’s health issue? With a slim majority, will New Hampshire Republican leaders decide that the time isn’t right to oppose the proposed state constitutional amendment that would make the direct intentional termination of human life a “right”?

I learned in 2011 and 2012 not to put faith in GOP majorities, large or small, where the right to life is concerned. The New Hampshire senate in that biennium had a 19-5 Republican majority. Can’t get much more impressive that that. You know what came out of that session? Parental notification and a ban on partial birth abortion. Good news. But I remember what failed in the Senate back then, too, after House passage: a prohibition on public funding of abortion (tabled), a Women’s Right to Know Act to require informed consent for abortion (Inexpedient to Legislate), and a post-20-week abortion limitation (interim study).

My 30 minutes are up.

The 31st minute and beyond

I thank God that pro-life work doesn’t depend on who’s in office. Grassroots work will yield results in the long run. If no group dedicated to constructive action already exists in your church or town or group, now’s the time to start one. Don’t wait for someone higher up the organizational chart to give you permission. Better that you work alone than not at all, but working with a group helps provide structure and encouragement for constructive work.

Here are few ideas, and this is hardly a comprehensive list.

Pregnancy care centers around the state offer abortion-free care for women and their families. They need volunteers, staff, and board members. They need advocates in the community who tour the facilities, get to know the workers, and then share the good news with others, one conversation at a time, including conversations with elected officials. The centers need resources not only for direct aid to vulnerable clients but also for facility security.

Eugenic abortion was written into New Hampshire law this year, signaling a troubling better-dead-than-disabled policy preference that has implications across the life-issue spectrum. Learn to tell your story, if you’ve carried to term a child with a life-limiting diagnosis. Learn to tell your story if you’re living with a disability or living with a terminal illness. Show how we can help each other choose life. Your story could help someone realize that there’s a human cost to embracing the direct intentional termination of human life.

I hope voters within the pro-life movement have learned that being in thrall to politicians who say they’re pro-life, and then express contempt for anyone who disagrees with them, yields only Pyrrhic victories.

Write thank-you notes to the people you know whose work helps build a culture of life. I’m going to be writing a few notes today, to pro-life reps who will be leaving office soon. They must have felt isolated at times.

Nonviolent public action doesn’t depend on majorities. Join vigils. Pray and work. If a march is constructive, be part of it. Come to hearings, and bring a friend.

I’ve been all over the state to speak about constructive civic engagement for pro-life Granite Staters. If I can be of assistance to you in your area, let me know.

2023, here we come.

Reality check: where’s the NH abortion “ban”?

A reader sent me a message tonight asking where to find the text of New Hampshire’s Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA), which does not restrict abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy. That’s the abortion “ban” that abortion-friendly candidates and PACs keep talking about as the November 8 election approaches.

The reader wanted to show a skeptical neighbor that the current law really does have exceptions for “fetal abnormalities incompatible with life.” When she did an online search for the relevant law – RSA 329:44 – she found no such exception in the first search result she found. I looked at the page kicked up by her search. Then I saw the note at the bottom of the page: “eff[ective] Jan. 1, 2022.”

The search result she saw at first didn’t show the amended version of the law. The amendment went into effect in May of 2022.

To find the updated language, I went to the General Court website and looked for the chaptered final version of HB 1609, the bill that amended FLPA.

Here’s the situation: abortion is hardly banned in New Hampshire.

There is no limitation on abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy, except for a parental notification provision for minors seeking abortion, which can be sidestepped if the minor opts for a judicial bypass.

FLPA (RSA 329:44 as amended) limits abortions after the fetus reaches a gestational age of 24 weeks, with the following exceptions: “fetal abnormalities incompatible with life,” or a medical emergency, defined in the law as “a condition in which an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or when continuation of the pregnancy will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function, as defined in RSA 329:43, V, of the pregnant woman.”

Whether or not you think exceptions are a good idea, they’re in there. This is all a matter of public record. Anyone attempting to obscure or deny the language of the law is not dealing in truth.

The only other abortion statute we have makes partial-birth abortion illegal. That law was passed over Gov. Lynch’s veto in 2012. Partial-birth abortion is a procedure in which the preborn child is partially delivered before being killed. The partial-birth-abortion law restricts one abortion method, not abortion in general.

I salute the reader who contacted me about this. She’s working to bring good sense and accurate information into a conversation with a neighbor. May her effort bear good fruit.

Pro-life candidates earn endorsements from NH Right to Life

The New Hampshire Right to Life PAC has released its voter guide for the general election on November 8, covering state-level races.

NHRTL-PAC’s guide also offers quotes from candidates for federal offices, without making endorsements. The PAC is not registered for federal races.

Cornerstone Action, another state-level organization, offers a legislative scorecard and other information about the election at https://www.nhcornerstone.org/election2022/.

Subscribe to the Leaven for the Loaf newsletter

Readers, I hope you’ll take a moment to find and click on the “subscribe to newsletter” button on this site. The Leaven for the Loaf newsletter is an occasional supplement to this blog, arriving in your email inbox once a month or so. Each edition is short and sweet (if I may say so myself) and provides news you can use, with links to take you to relevant information. Sometimes I share the best pro-life writing from other sources. The most recent edition mentions the upcoming election, of course, but it also previews what a concerned voter can do after the election.

I don’t sell or rent my mailing list – and believe me, I’ve been asked for it – so subscribing won’t burden you with spam. Unsubscribing is easy (but sad – so let me know how I can do better).

Current subscribers, take note: there’s a button in each edition that you can click to share the email with your contacts.

Many thanks to discerning readers, one and all!

Bill in the works to put abortion in NH Constitution

A New Hampshire legislator has filed a legislative service request (LSR) for the 2023 House session, proposing a state constitutional amendment relating to “reproductive freedom.” If adopted, the measure would lock into the constitution a “right” to abortion, undoubtedly intending to override conscience rights and require taxpayer funding for direct intentional termination of human life.

This kind of thing is perfectly acceptable under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Roe is gone; it was not replaced with recognition of the right to life. States’ rights don’t necessarily advance human rights.

The LSR was requested by Rep. Amanda Toll, a Cheshire County Democrat who won her primary handily. The measure has not yet been assigned a bill number. The LSR is in line with what a state women’s group called for in its 2023 abortion agenda.

The last time a group of legislators tried to shoehorn abortion into the state constitution was in January 2020. The hearing for what was then designated CACR 14 had to be moved to Representatives Hall, since the Judiciary Committee’s room couldn’t accommodate the 150 or so people who showed up. (I reported on the proceedings in “Reps Hall goes pro-life.”) CACR 14 went down to defeat.

Times have changed. Now, people can register their opinions online when a committee hearing is coming. The number of pro-vs.-con is read into the record. The numbers matter, especially for politicians who would like all this pro-life business to Just Go Away, and who will vote whichever way they think will cause them less trouble.

Voters will go to the polls on November 8 to elect state House and Senate members for the next biennium. Not sure who to vote for? Run this LSR past your candidates and listen for something like “no way.”