Abortion recovery leader: “be my ambassadors, please”

Kathy Hill of Massachusetts works with post-abortive women seeking counseling and healing. She was the featured speaker at last weekend’s march for life in Concord, organized annually by New Hampshire Right to Life.

She said that on average, a woman who has had an abortion has only five people in her life who know about it. It’s often a secret. “She tries to disconnect from her story. Unfortunately, those triggers come back. Every [post-abortive] mother’s heart knows that she’s lost her child.”

Hill is a facilitator for Surrendering the Secret, an abortion recovery program, and is regional coordinator for Silent No More Awareness. The latter program is for women who regret their abortions and want to give public testimony about their experiences.

In Surrendering the Secret, she has worked with clients whose abortions were anywhere from two weeks to more than 40 years ago. The women are from all ages, races, and economic levels. Sixty percent claim religious affiliation, and according to Hill, “they want to hear the word ‘abortion’ from the pulpits” – otherwise they think what they’ve done is so horrible that even their pastors can’t utter the word. 

Nine out of 10 post-abortive women aren’t aware that post-abortion healing programs exist. “Be my ambassadors, please,” urged Hill. She suggested looking at the Silent No More Awareness website to hear from some of the women who have recorded their testimonies. “Share what you learn.”

About 250 people marched from the State House plaza down Concord’s Main Street to Christ the King church hall for New Hampshire’s first post-Roe march for life. An overcast near-freezing day didn’t stop families from coming out for the observance.

Fr. Christian Tutor of NHRTL Education Trust spoke to the crowd before the march began. On encountering people who reject the right to life, he advised, “They no longer have to be in the darkness that governments or organizations say they have to be in. This is what we need to share. All of us can have mercy.” He urged peaceful action at all times, especially in the face of abuse: “say ‘I’ll pray for you.'”

Peaceful action marked the day. One police officer was on the plaza for the pre-march rally; he later got into a patrol car and drove up Main Street a couple of blocks at a time to guide traffic. There were no counterdemonstrators in front of the Equality Center on Main Street, and therefore no directions to the pro-life marchers to circle the block to avoid them, as has been the case during some past marches.

At the church hall after Mass, marchers were warmed by a lunch of soup and sandwiches, served by volunteers including sisters from Daughters of Mary, Mother of Healing Love. (They will always be The Running Nuns to me, even though their apostolate has changed since the days when they offered a successful racing/running program for behaviorally-challenged kids.)

Kurt Wuelper of NHRTL-PAC listed six pieces of state-level legislation that the PAC would monitor this year. The PAC will oppose CACR 2, enacting state-constitutional protection for abortion; HB 224, removing penalties for violations of the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA); and HB 271, repealing FLPA altogether. The PAC will support HB 591, a heartbeat bill that would amount to a post-six-week abortion limitation; HB 562, informed consent for abortion; and HB 346, a born-alive bill. (Watch this blog for coverage of these bills. Hearings have not yet been scheduled.)

“Dobbs has opened the door – that’s all it did – to enable us to have the conversations” about life, said Wuelper. A former state representative from Strafford County, he chalks up his loss last year to redistricting, and he said the loss gives him more time to concentrate on the pro-life work he’s doing now.

Jason Hennessey, NHRTL president, noted the pro-life victories achieved in recent years, including the Executive Council rejecting contracts with abortion providers. “The Executive Council has been amazing.” He cited passage of FPLA, and applauded the end of efforts by Manchester’s Catholic Medical Center to pursue an affiliation with abortion-friendly Dartmouth Health. “Abortion isn’t health care.” He stressed the importance of effective messaging, and said that NHRTL would be offering training in how to testify at hearings on life-issue bills and policies.

Norm Thibault, campaign leader for 40 Days for Life in Manchester, announced that the next campaign will begin on February 22, with signups for vigil hours available now (see 40daysforlife.com).

Ron Bourque of the Knights of Columbus in Salem presented Fr. Tutor with a $5000 donation to the NHRTL Educational Trust. The Salem council has raised funds to donate nine ultrasound machines to pregnancy care centers in the region, as far north as Littleton.

A sad reminder of the Safe Haven law

December in New Hampshire can mean bitter cold nights. Anyone living in makeshift quarters is in for a rough time. A few nights ago, a woman living in a tent in Manchester gave birth and then allegedly misled emergency responders about her baby’s location. There’s no telling for sure what she was experiencing. Pain from labor and delivery; mental illness; chemical impairment; fear of losing the only shelter she had: any or all could have affected her judgment. Miraculously, the premature baby eventually was found alive and is now reportedly hospitalized. The mother faces charges including child endangerment.

The mother might not have been in a position to know about the Safe Haven law, which would have let her bring her newborn baby to any police or fire station – even a church – without any threat of prosecution for child endangerment or abandonment. Circumstances were terrible all around for mother and child that night. If there are any good outcomes from the media coverage of the night’s events, one is surely the mention of Safe Haven. Maybe some other mother and child will benefit from that.

New Hampshire’s Safe Haven law was passed in 2003. It was written to deter abandonment of newborn infants by allowing anyone to bring a child up to 7 days old to a “haven” – hospital, police or fire station, or church – with no questions asked, so that the child can be cared for even if the parent isn’t willing or able to do so.

I attended the hearings on that bill many years ago. Its passage was a bipartisan victory. The chief sponsor was Phyllis Woods, Republican from Dover. Among the eight other sponsors was Barbara Hull Richardson, Democrat from Keene. The House vote was 327-45. The Senate passed it on a voice vote after defeating an amendment proposed by the chamber’s six Democrats. Governor Craig Benson signed it in May 2003.

In short, it was as uncontroversial a life-issue bill as one could hope to see. It’s good for babies and good for a scared or desperate unprepared parent. And it only works if people know about it.

Sununu whacks buffer zone repeal with his veto stick

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has vetoed HB 1625, which would repeal the state’s unenforced buffer zone law. In doing so, he keeps his word from three weeks ago, and violates his word from 2016.

In his 2016 pitch to pro-life Republican voters on the eve of the gubernatorial election, he called buffer zone repeal a “common sense platform initiative” that he supported. In the same statement, he wrote “I know that my winning the race for Governor will be our best chance to get this important work done.”


His position hasn’t evolved. It has mutated. That doesn’t say much for the environment in which he chooses to immerse himself. Even the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who like Governor Sununu was “pro-choice,” recognized a violation of pro-lifers’ First Amendment rights when she saw one. Not so for Mr. Sununu.

Why were pro-life, pro-First-Amendment voters important enough to reach out to six years ago? Because then-Councilor Sununu had just survived a shockingly close GOP gubernatorial primary, and he wanted to mend every fence in sight.

Today, secure in his third term and aiming for a fourth, he can write off those pro-life, pro-First-Amendment voters. Maybe he thinks he has their votes locked up in any case, given the likely Democratic alternative in November. Maybe he thinks that by signing into law two of the five policies he backed in his 2016 statement – fetal homicide legislation and a late-term abortion ban – his work is done and his treasured “moderate” label is intact right alongside his “pro-choice” badge.

(I wonder if he’s gotten the memo about Planned Parenthood urging that the term “pro-choice” be abandoned in favor of “pro-abortion.”)

No need for nasty messages to the Governor. They’re rude, and in any case they’re counterproductive. But readers who treasure the First Amendment rights of peaceful prolife witnesses might want to keep this veto in mind.

The legislature will attempt to override the veto at a future date, but given the roll call numbers on HB 1625 so far, the necessary supermajority is lacking.

The Governor’s veto message is posted at https://www.governor.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt336/files/documents/20220527-hb1625-veto.pdf

A couple of earlier posts on HB 1625: Three reasons for Governor Sununu to sign buffer zone repeal; House to vote week of March 15

Enduring work: two ministries going strong

Part of a series marking the tenth anniversary of the Leaven for the Loaf blog.

A pair of ambitious pro-life projects launched within weeks of this blog’s first post. I heralded both of them as promising efforts. Where are they ten years later?

Still in business, going strong.

And Then There Were None

A former abortion worker herself, Abby Johnson recognized the practical, legal, emotional, and spiritual assistance a person needs in order to leave the abortion industry. In June 2012, she announced the creation of a nonprofit organization called And Then There Were None (ATTWN) to provide those services.

Today, ten years later, ATTWN has helped more than six hundred abortion workers who chose to leave their jobs – “quitters,” as they call themselves. Some have shared their stories on the ATTWN website, abortionworker.com.

The site highlights a few metrics that raise red flags about the industry’s treatment of workers: 33% of the “quitters” report that they didn’t have the necessary certification or qualifications to perform a task they were assigned; 18% were told to perform something illegal; 18% have attempted suicide. Yet even under such stress, a person who relies on abortion-industry employment in order to support a family can feel stuck. ATTWN offers resources that can open up options.

I interviewed a couple of ATTWN workers a few years ago, and I asked them about their approach to abortion workers: “we love them out,” they told me.

See abortionworker.com to learn more about ATTWN.

Charlotte Lozier Institute

Before the Charlotte Lozier Institute was founded, no single pro-life organization was dedicated to the kind of research on which policymakers could rely. Today, with a large staff of employees and an impressive roster of scholars, CLI sponsors and promotes research on a broad range of life issues and healthcare policy.

Once upon a time, the Guttmacher Institute – a onetime Planned Parenthood project – was the only place where journalists, activists, and legislators could find facts and figures about abortion. That’s no longer the case.

From CLI’s website: “The Charlotte Lozier Institute is committed to bringing the power of science, medicine, and research to bear in life-related policy making, media, and debates  to promote a culture and polity of life. In just over a decade, CLI has established itself as a go-to source for accurate and timely research and information on life issues. With a current network of nearly seventy Associate Scholars from a variety of disciplines, CLI provides pro-life groups and policy makers research-based information of the highest quality on issues including abortion, women’s health, prenatal diagnosis and treatment for the unborn, perinatal hospice, abortion reporting, sex-selection abortion, stem cell research and medicine, and health care policy.”

Go to lozierinstitute.org to check out some of CLI’s published research. Make sure your legislators know about this resource as they consider promoting pro-life policy.

Post featured image: pexels.com

Quiet voice, fierce champion

Part of a series marking the tenth anniversary of the Leaven for the Loaf blog.

Back in 2016, I asked Darlene Pawlik what anyone could do to advance a culture of life in New Hampshire. “One is to either run [for office] or support another full spectrum pro-life person in their race to the House or Senate. The other is to be responsive to their individual calling within their sphere of influence to be kind, helpful, and honor all lives loudly.”

Darlene’s story has been told elsewhere. Conceived in violence herself and later pregnant through sexual assault, she has a keen appreciation for the lives at risk of being dismissed as “exceptions” when pro-life policy is up for a vote. Her concern for human dignity doesn’t stop there. Her testimony, delivered in her quiet voice, has helped legislators understand that human trafficking is a reality close to home – not just “out there” somewhere.

What’s she up to now?

She’s in a new season of her life, providing special care to loved ones, facing fewer microphones and interviews. She isn’t done making her views known, though. Recently, she asked me to read her written testimony to legislators considering a bill to improve juvenile trafficking victims’ access to the victims’ compensation fund administered by The New Hampshire Department of Justice.

Darlene wrote about the difference even modest compensation could make. “Having access to the victims compensation fund could be more than just a way for a young person to have expenses paid for….It is the fact that people cared enough to set up such a fund which really makes a difference. I was eighteen years old before I knew that people really cared for ‘throw-away’ kids like me. A few hundred dollars [from the compensation fund] may seem small, but it could make a huge difference in the life of a child victimized by traffickers.”

Her testimony evidently struck a chord. The bill has passed House and Senate, and I hope it will soon be on Governor Sununu’s desk.

Five years ago, I reported that she urged us to “honor all lives loudly.” She leads by example.

Woman at podium with sign saying Pray to End Abortion
Darlene Pawlik, speaking at 40 Days for Life rally (Manchester NH) in 2014. Ellen Kolb photo.

post header photo by Ellen Kolb