Weekend views & reading: voices to trust

As the “women’s marches” are winding down, I’m glad to hear from some pro-life women that their experience at the Washington March has been peaceful.

Video

Abby Johnson, expecting twins and having contractions at the march, describes the excitement and encouragement of her fellow marchers – including those who, without apparent irony, support abortion.

Aimee Murphy of Life Matters Journal was interviewed by MSNBC. Aimee, like me, is a Trump skeptic. Possibly a very different political outlook from yours, but pro-life for sure.

Remembering some Voices to Trust

While pro-life women are peacefully nudging their way into the spotlight this weekend, this is a good time to look back on this blog’s Voices to Trust series. The women profiled in the series have stories of their own, the likes of which are not being featured in most coverage of today’s marches.

“9 Days for Life” kicks off today

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a 9 Days for Life project, based on the Catholic tradition of a novena, or nine-day prayer effort for a special intention. People of all faiths are welcome to join. Read more about the project and get some good ideas for social media work over the next nine days.

 

A timely throwback video: “Bureau of Womanhood Conformity”

The team at the Susan B. Anthony List reminded me today of a canny little video they made a few years back, when the outgoing president and his appointees imposed the HHS mandate.  The video hits a nerve anew, in this week of the rescission of an invitation to pro-lifers by organizers of a so-called “Women’s March.” This week, it’s not a president speaking – but the Bureau of Womanhood Conformity sounds like it’s still in business.

The pro-life essays of Nat Hentoff

On January 7, Nat Hentoff died. (Wesley Smith’s tribute does him justice.) He was a writer, a syndicated columnist, a lover of jazz, an atheist, a passionate civil libertarian, and a pro-lifer. I will always be in his debt, although I never met him. Reading his work while I was in my early twenties was subtly life-altering. His writing was one of many influences that made me think about things I’d rather not have thought about, eventually forcing me off the fence and into the pro-life movement.

If Hentoff’s name is unfamiliar to you, prepare to have your horizons broadened.

The Human Life Review, which published many of Hentoff’s pieces on the life issues, has done honor to him and service to readers by setting up a memorial web page. On it is a link, good through January 17, to a free download of a collection of Hentoff essays spanning twenty years.

Hentoff came around to a pro-life position only gradually, and not without pushback. From My Controversial Choice to Become Pro-life:

I didn’t see that an actual baby, a human being, was being killed by abortion for years because just about everyone I knew—my wife, members of the family, the reporters I worked with at the Village Voice and other places—were pro-choice. But then—covering cases of failed late-term abortions with a live baby bursting into the room to be hidden away until it died—I began to start examining abortion seriously.

I came across medical textbooks for doctors who cared for pregnant women, and one of them—The Unborn Patient: Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment by Drs. Harrison, Golbus, and Filly—turned me all the way around: “The concept that the fetus is a patient, an individual (with a DNA distinct from everyone else’s), whose maladies are a proper subject for medical treatment . . . is alarmingly modern. . . . Only now are we beginning to consider the fetus seriously—medically, legally, and ethically.”

I also began to be moved by a nationally known pro-life black preacher who said: “There are those who argue that the [woman’s] right to privacy is of a higher order than the right of life. That was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence of slaves on the plantation because that was private [property] and therefore outside of your right to be concerned.” (His name was Jesse Jackson, but that was before he decided to run for president, and changed his position.)

So, in the 1980s, in my weekly column in the Village Voice, I openly and clearly declared myself to be pro-life. That was—and still is—the most controversial position I’ve taken.

Do yourself a favor and read an essay or two. (Betcha can’t stop at one.) You’ll go back for more. You won’t always agree with him, but you’ll recognize his courage and commitment. You’ll be challenged.

Be careful about sharing his work with young people. Very dangerous stuff there. Look what it did to me.

N.H. journalism starts 2017 on the wrong foot

You’d think I could get through my first hot chocolate of 2017 without being moved to post here. Nope, thanks to the New Hampshire Sunday News, a Union Leader publication.

I’ve been a subscriber for decades and will remain one. The editorial page has retained a pro-life tone through changes in staff. Someone on the news side was a bit self-indulgent today, though, employing this subhead in an article by Kevin Landrigan and Dave Solomon on the upcoming legislative session.

“New efforts to restrict abortion services.”

OK, you have my attention, I thought as I sipped and savored my New Year’s mug of chocolate. I read on, curious about the use of the plural “efforts” when I’m aware of only one bill to limit post-viability abortions.

I shoulda known. The buffer zone and fetal homicide are grossly miscast as “efforts to restrict abortion services.” Here is the relevant portion of the article, page A8, carried over from the front page’s “State House to take on drugs, guns, money.” I’ll hold my remarks until after the excerpt, much as the content begs for in-line comments.

The new Republican governor is already well-known for his on-again, off-again, on-again relationship with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

Sununu calls himself “pro-choice,” which was why his deciding vote to block state grants to Planned Parenthood in 2015 became such a flash point in the campaign.

Less than a year later, Sununu got the chance for a makeup call on the matter and reversed field, endorsing grants for Planned Parenthood.

Sununu had opposed them last year due to the allegations that other locals of Planned Parenthood had paid for fetal body parts, allegations that were never taken to court to be proved.

What is less recognized but worth watching next year is whether Sununu gives any political support to restrictions on abortion laws that he did endorse in 2016.

For example, Sununu said he would sign into law the repeal of the still-unenforced law that requires there be a buffer zone around abortion clinics so that their patrons aren’t harassed by pro-life protesters.

Further in a mailing to pro-life voters, Sununu said he favors the so-called Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act that permits all employees of health care providers to refuse to work or counsel anyone regarding services that they morally oppose. 

Those services include abortion, birth control, stem-cell research and euthanasia.

Finally, Sununu said that unlike the last two governors who vetoed such measures, he would embrace legislation that treats an unborn fetus as a person when it comes to the state’s homicide laws. 

“I need your help to restore strong, value-based governance to our state,” Sununu wrote to pro-life voters days before his Nov. 8 victory.

Pro-choice advocates remain hopeful they can convince the legislature not to pass these measures.

The subhead is astounding, more so when you realize that the post-viability bill did not rate a mention.

One more time, folks: the buffer zone law does not protect abortion access, and repealing it would not restrict abortion access. “Harassment” can be addressed under disorderly conduct laws, which have not been used against New Hampshire pro-life witnesses in recent years. The failure to use such laws before infringing on the First Amendment is what doomed the Massachusetts law struck down by a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court in McCullen v. Coakley.

Further, the unenforced law would not “require… there be a buffer zone around abortion clinics.” The law as written gives abortion facility management sole discretion on whether, when, and where a zone may be posted.

The experience in other states with buffer zone laws in effect indicates that abortions go on regardless of the presence or absence of a buffer. The presence or absence of such a law has no effect on any right to abort.

Also under the subhead mentioning “restrict” is a brief mention of conscience legislation, as though respect for conscience rights means a restriction on abortion and is therefore a bad thing.

Finally, fetal homicide legislation finds itself under a subheading about “restrict[ing]” abortion services. The writers decline to use the words fetal homicide legislation, preferring treats an unborn fetus as a person when it comes to the state’s homicide laws.

Fetal homicide laws are on the books in more than three dozen states. Abortion is legal in all those states. No fetal homicide law, including the versions introduced in New Hampshire over the past quarter-century, would affect ANY decision made with the consent of the pregnant woman – including abortion.

That bears repeating. Fetal homicide laws are NOT applicable in any case where the death of the fetus occurs with the mother’s consent. Fetal homicide laws have nothing to do with abortion. 

Fetal homicide legislation gives prosecutors the right to seek a homicide charge against people like drunk drivers and abusive partners whose actions cause the death of a fetus, against the will of the mother.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court in 2009 – that’s going on eight years ago – had to overturn the conviction of a man whose drunk driving resulted in the death of Dominick Emmons. The unanimous Court concluded at that time,  “Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.”

A minor point, by comparison: the writers of the article mention two vetoes of fetal homicide legislation. There has been only one, by Governor John Lynch in 2012.

I doubt today’s news coverage would seem half so egregious had it not been under the words “new efforts to restrict abortion services.” Buffer zone repeal, fetal homicide laws, and respect for conscience rights don’t amount to restrictions.

Should you be moved to comment on the Sunday News coverage, you can leave a comment online under the article, reply to the paper’s Twitter or Facebook links to the piece, or email a letter to the editor via letters@unionleader.com.

Weekend Reading: when a 14-year-old fears losing abortion access

You may have seen this post from TheFederalist.com already, since it has (quite rightly) been shared far and wide since it went up on December 14. Read and ponder If George Stephanopoulos’s Daughter Wants An Abortion, Can I Have Her Baby?

You may think that an odd title. Joy Pullman, author of the post, explains it.

On “The View” Tuesday, George Stephanopoulos’ wife Ali Wentworth claimed the couple’s 14-year-old daughter reacted to Donald Trump’s win by “screaming ‘no abortions’ really loudly”….Wentworth said both their daughters were terrified by Hillary Clinton’s loss.

Pullman continues:

Well, I can’t get inside this child’s head or this family’s atmosphere. But it sure sounds like someone has been frightening this young lady, and that someone is not Donald Trump. Somewhere this child got the ideas that a) women should vote according to whatever politician most supports their power to evacuate their uteruses at will, and b) Trump can ban abortion.

Pullman could have taken several directions after this. She chooses to write a message to the frightened 14-year-old, who according to her mother “hasn’t kissed a boy yet” and is thus dealing with abortion only on a what-if level.

With the help of the many people everywhere in this country and world who are waiting to surround and support you, you can go through pregnancy and birth and raise your child. If you are really young or in really terrible circumstances, that might be exceedingly difficult. So you have another option to give your child a happy life with a mother and father who will read him or her picture books, take your child on walks, hold your child’s hand during an emergency room visit, and wake up a dozen times a night when that sweet baby has a fever.

It’s called adoption. Thirty-six vetted, loving, wonderful families are on waitlists to adopt every single available baby in this country.

Don’t settle for the excerpts I’ve provided here. The full post is worth your time.  Joy Pullman could have spent 500 words on a political approach or on criticizing the young woman’s parents – and how many of us would have been unable to resist doing that, if the post had been ours to write? Instead, she deals with politics and parenting as briefly as possible before turning her attention to the fearful 14-year-old.

Maybe the information and encouragement Joy Pullman offers the young woman can reach her parents as well.