“Pro-Life Journeys” now in paperback

Pro-Life Journeys is now available at Amazon.com in e-book and paperback formats. Later in January, the paperback will also be available from me directly at local events. And if you want to invite me to your event in or near southern New Hampshire, I’d be honored to hear from you!

I’m grateful to the blog’s Facebook followers for their encouraging messages. For those wondering how they can spread the news about Pro-Life Journeys, let me offer a few ideas. This is a self-published book, so I’m working without a net: no editor, no agent, no press representative. Let’s work together!

First and foremost, please read the book! Its Amazon page includes a short preview of the opening chapter via the “Look Inside” tab. For the e-book, you don’t need a Kindle device; you can download the free Kindle app to read the book on whatever device you use. A note for e-book fans: if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you already have access to the book. Just click the KU button on the book’s Amazon page.

Like what you read? Let your friends know! Leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Do you have a podcast or other media outlet? Let me know if I can be of assistance as your guest. You can follow my site at ellenkolb.com, which includes links to more of my work outside of Leaven. Subscribe to that site’s newsletter for updates on book-related events and special sales.

The book’s final chapter – “The Journey Ahead” – is going to be at the heart of a speaking engagement I have later this week at a private venue. I’d love to share that chapter’s message of practical optimism with your group or class. If you’d like to contact me about your event, you can use the contact form at the bottom of the ellenkolb.com homepage.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me with encouraging words. Every blogger should have such readers!

Leaven for the Loaf marks ten years with anthology “Pro-Life Journeys”

I started this blog in April 2012. Early in 2022, with the ten-year anniversary approaching, I decided that creating a short anthology of posts would be a nice way to celebrate. The project took much longer than I expected. Who knew a book of less than eighty pages could require a dozen drafts?…uh…pretty much every author I consulted during the process, that’s who. Live and learn.

I’m happy to offer the finished product, in e-book format. Pro-Life Journeys is now available as a Kindle e-book on Amazon.com. A paperback version is in the works, and it will be available on Amazon as well.

cover of book Pro-Life Journeys by Ellen Kolb

Selecting the posts to include was difficult, but I think you’ll agree that the people whose stories I share are worth hearing about again – or reading about for the first time, if you’re new to the blog. For example, I’ve included the story of the families whose persistence led to New Hampshire’s fetal homicide law. There are interviews with people who work in pregnancy care centers. There are stories shared with me by former abortion workers, one local and one nationally-known. Those are just a few of the people you’ll encounter in the book. I take note of a couple of policy debates as well.

I called the final chapter “The Journey Ahead.” What can people committed to the right to life do now, in a post-Dobbs environment? I offer what I hope are constructive thoughts about that.

Pro-Life Journeys distills ten years of posts down to a short collection of stories about memorable people whose words and work can inspire us. I hope the e-book finds a place in your library!

By the way, you don’t need a Kindle tablet to read the e-book. The Kindle app is available via Google Play and the Apple Store for use on other devices.

If you like what you read, please help me share the news! Every self-published book including Pro-Life Journeys depends on readers’ reviews, social media posts, and good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Let’s enjoy this particular journey as a team.

To all the blog’s readers, thank you for giving Leaven for the Loaf its staying power. Here’s to more years ahead.

On P.P. Funding: Observations from Karen Handel

This morning, New Hampshire’s Executive Council will vote on contracts with two abortion providers including Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Yesterday, Karen Handel of Georgia won a seat in Congress.

So what does Handel have to do with a pending Council vote?

She has offered her thoughts about PP’s funding by governments and private agencies – and she has better reason that most of us for giving thought to the problem. Read here for a brief review of her experience with a breast cancer charity and with Planned Parenthood’s response when the charity decided all too briefly not to hand funds to the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Here are some excerpts from Handel’s book Planned Bullyhood, written in the wake of the Komen/PP debacle that forced her out of a job a few years back. This might explain why Planned Parenthood Action Fund put over $700,000 into the GA-06 race in a futile effort to prevent Handel from winning a seat in Congress.

…[W]hat is clear is this: Planned Parenthood is a powerful and effective combat weapon for the left, willing to put its own political agenda— abortion and its government funding— ahead of women.

…The campaign started with Komen, but it certainly didn’t end with Komen. And it won’t end until we, as Americans, stand up to the perverse tactics of thugs like Planned Parenthood— and the politicians they pay for to do their dirty work.

…Planned Parenthood…said Komen’s decision [to end grants to PP] was political. It was not; it was an economic one— made in the best interest of Komen and, more important, the women that Komen serves….Komen’s board of directors was insisting on real, measurable results and even higher standards of excellence. The grants to Planned Parenthood— about $700,000 in 2011, or less than one-tenth of one percent of Planned Parenthood’s $1 billion annual budget— were not high-quality grants.

…For Planned Parenthood, there was no such thing as neutral. You were either with them or against them. And anybody who didn’t actively support Planned Parenthood was the enemy and had to be destroyed— including a nonpartisan breast cancer foundation doing great work.

…Yes, I was and am staunchly pro-life, but portraying me as [a pro-life] hero wasn’t accurate, either. I believed— and still believe— that breast cancer is not about ideology. Yet when Komen gave up on being neutral and caved to the mafia-style tactics of Planned Parenthood and the left, Komen made it about ideology.

…The Komen incident also exposed an underlying and disturbing truth: Planned Parenthood and its allies are the worst kind of bullies. They were willing to do almost anything to advance their political agenda and ensure the continued flow of nearly $1.5 million dollars a day in government money to Planned Parenthood’s coffers.

…And the bullying won’t stop until it is exposed— and we stand up to it.

[from Handel, Karen (2012-09-11). Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure (No Series) (Kindle Location 164). Howard Books. Kindle Edition.]

I recommend reading Planned Bullyhood in full. Maybe send a copy to your Executive Councilor.

“Gosnell” Book: Tough & Challenging

Cross-posted at EllenKolb.com. This post contains an affiliate link.

Gosnell by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer is not easy to read. The style is smooth and fluent, but the topic’s a tough one: Kermit Gosnell, former abortion doctor, now serving life in prison. He killed children who survived attempts to abort them. He was found responsible for the death of a woman who came to him for an abortion and died under what passed for his “care.”

He committed terrible crimes. He is in prison now. Reporters covered the trial as it happened, once they were shamed into it by people like journalist Kirsten Powers. Three years after Gosnell’s conviction, there is now a book that sets down not only what happened, but tells more about the people who were involved. As McElhinney and McAleer tell their stories, the book becomes less about a court case and more about human beings, capable of good choices and bad ones.

I listened to McIlhinney and McAleer talk about their book at CPAC, a political conference in Washington. An odd venue, but perhaps that was the place to reach readers who might not otherwise hear of the book. McAleer was a quiet man, leaving most of the talking to his co-author (who is also his wife).

McIlhenney was not at all quiet. She was passionate and angry as she talked about Gosnell. She was indignant. She called Gosnell “America’s biggest serial killer,” and she meant it. She made no bones about it: she had no objectivity left regarding her subject.

Familiar as I was with the Gosnell case, and as impressed as I was by McElhinney’s passion, I wondered what could be new in the book. As I read, I quickly realized that the close attention to the individuals involved in the case, starting with the investigators, set Gosnell apart from anything else I’ve read on the subject.

The authors’ perspective is unique as well, as McElhinney explains in the preface: “I never trusted or liked pro-life activists. Even at college I thought them too earnest and too religious.”

Fast forward to April 2013 and Kermit Gosnell’s trial in Philadelphia, when everything changed….[T]he images shown in the courtroom were not from activists, they were from police detectives and medical examiners and workers at the 3801 Lancaster Ave. clinic….What they said and the pictures they showed changed me. I am not the same person I was.

Read the rest of the post at EllenKolb.com.

Book Review: The Walls Are Talking

The Walls Are Talking, by Abby Johnson and Kristin Detrow (Ignatius Press, 2016, 155pp., $17.95)

Abby Johnson gives fair warning in the preface to her new book: “This will not be an enjoyable read. It is a necessary one, however…” She’s right on both counts. The Walls Are Talking gives former abortion workers a voice, and what they have to say is unsettling. “Settled” is not how Johnson wants to leave anyone.

The title was inspired by an old HBO movie called “If These Walls Could Talk,” a paean to abortion providers. Now, twenty years on, Abby Johnson turns that title on its head.

Pro-life readers may pick up the book because of its author’s reputation. Supporters of abortion rights might avoid the book for the same reason. The Walls are Talking is not primarily about Abby Johnson, though, and the experiences recounted in the book are powerful on their own terms. Any current abortion worker expecting ridicule or condemnation in the pages of these book will be surprised. So will any pro-lifer who picks up the book in search of a reassuring pat on the head.

When Johnson told the story of her unlikely departure from Planned Parenthood in 2011’s Unplanned, she ended on an upbeat note, after recounting the personal and professional challenges that faced her as she chose to leave abortion work.

“Upbeat” gives way to uncertainty in The Walls Are Talking.  The willingness of former abortion workers to walk out on jobs with benefits and security is a testament to courage and conviction. Few of the workers who tell their stories in this book expected soft landings after leaving their clinics, yet leave they did.

As one story succeeds another, the book’s major weakness becomes clearer: the anonymity of the people who agreed to be interviewed. Abby Johnson and her credited co-author Kristin Detrow note in the preface their desire to protect their subjects’ privacy. There is probably no one in the country who knows better than Johnson what kind of fallout comes from leaving the abortion industry. She herself faced legal action, among other things, when she left Planned Parenthood. Even so, if the day ever comes when one of the people interviewed for this book makes her name public, her story will become even more powerful.

It’s fair to note Johnson’s response to such a criticism. This comes from the web site of And Then There Were None, the nonprofit she founded to assist abortion workers seeking exit from the industry:  “Our goal is not to create new pro-life speakers. The primary goal of ATTWN is to draw clinic workers out of the abortion industry and set them on a path to recovery. Once a clinic worker has come to terms with what he or she has witnessed and participated in during the time working in the clinic (this can take months, years, or even decades), then they can make a rational, conscious decision whether to come forward and go public with their testimony…”

The Walls Are Talking is about people whose abortion work was motivated by sincere commitment to women’s health. We meet one such worker whose awakening began when a client suffered a ruptured ectopic pregnancy shortly after being sent home from the clinic. Positive pregnancy test but no pregnancy showing up on ultrasound: “We honestly didn’t have a protocol for that type of scenario.” After the client’s mother called the clinic the next day to report that her daughter had needed emergency surgery, the clinic offered the mother $680 on the condition that she sign a non-disclosure agreement. The worker was stunned, doubly so when the mother accepted the settlement. Women’s health – one particular woman’s health – took a hit that day.

Another person interviewed for the book remembers one abortion client, a girl who spoke no English and who was accompanied by an older American man who filled out the necessary paperwork. The young woman signed her name where the man pointed on the forms. While some of the clinic workers spoke among themselves about calling the authorities to report what was obviously a troublesome situation, they eventually decided on silence. “I pray that my story can serve as a cautionary tale, as a warning to the fence-sitters who claim not to have an opinion about abortion one way or the other….[I went] from someone who personally found abortion distasteful but necessary, to someone who chose abortion for herself, to someone who facilitated abortions. Evil prefers small victories.”

Pro-lifers are spared little in The Walls Are Talking, getting a cringeworthy glimpse of what they might look like to abortion workers. Harsh language comes in for particular criticism. Johnson, who entered the Catholic Church after leaving Planned Parenthood, says “I have heard so much vitriol spewed from the mouths of  ‘Christian pro-lifers’ since becoming pro-life….I am always terrified that clinic workers will see some of the words from pro-lifers. I have been told by several former workers that they will never come forward with their stories, because they are so scared of how they will be treated by us – by us, the supposed ‘Christian’ movement.”

Even more painful (possibly because it hits the bull-eye) is one ex-abortion-worker’s assertion that her former colleagues far exceed pro-lifers in level of commitment. “[T]hey [abortion advocates] are willing to risk their lives and their reputations for what they consider to be the civil right of abortion on demand. Sadly enough, they want it more. They are willing to risk more….The fact is that the people who are committed to the abortion movement are willing to sacrifice their time, talents, and treasure in a way that I have not seen elsewhere.”

It’s doubtful that an unknown author would have been able to find a publisher for this book, in spite of its unique content and viewpoint. Johnson is banking heavily on her reputation with The Walls Are Talking.  She runs the risk of being accused of making it all up. Her major pro-life project since the publication of Unplanned is the best defense against such an accusation: And Then There Were None, and the hundreds of former abortion workers ATTWN has served. In The Walls Are Talking, Abby Johnson is sticking her neck out not for herself but for them.