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.”

Uh-huh.

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

Melissa Ohden: a voice for abortion survivors

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

My first post about Melissa Ohden, back in 2016, included a video of her testimony to Congress about surviving the attempted abortion that was meant to kill her. After informing members of Congress about the number of documented abortions occurring annually, she went on to say “I was meant to be one of them. I should have been just another statistic.”

photo of Melissa Ohden seated
Melissa Ohden (photo from abortionsurvivors.org)

Melissa’s advocacy for abortion survivors had started years before. In 2012, she founded the Abortion Survivors Network. The Network is thriving, having brought together hundreds of people who have survived attempts to abort them. They are “more than a choice,” as ASN’s tagline proclaims.

“We are fast approaching being connected with 600 Abortion survivors. We’re offering more supports and programs to not only survivors but family members, including the women who experienced failed abortions.”

Melissa Ohden, Abortion Survivors Network

Melissa was kind enough to reply recently when I asked her for an update on her work. “I couldn’t be more proud of the team at The Abortion Survivors Network, five of whom are also abortion survivors. We are fast approaching being connected with 600 Abortion survivors. We’re offering more supports and programs to not only survivors but family members, including the women who experienced failed abortions.”

What’s ahead for ASN, and how you can help

What’s ahead for ASN? “We’re currently growing so rapidly that in the next five years, I foresee that we’ll be offering multiple retreats a year, including for families. We’re starting right now to research and implement the best practices of healing and community support for survivors who have also had abortions, themselves, and what care is most supportive to children and teenagers. Contributing what we learn to journals and the pro-life healing community is all part of what we’ll continue to do.”

In New Hampshire, efforts have thus far fallen short to pass “born-alive” legislation to protect children surviving attempted abortion. Other states have seen more success. What has worked, where born-alive laws are enacted? “We’ve continued to see that sharing the stories of survivors, coupled with data about the incidence of born alive survivors is impactful. Just because there are Abortion survivors doesn’t mean born alive legislation isn’t needed (policymakers and the abortion industry attempt to paint that picture).”

What can a person do to support ASN and the survivors it represents? “The average person can educate themselves about born alive survivors (our websites are great resources), learn our stories, and educate policymakers and people around them about this. Most people really have no idea this happens and the frequency to which it does.”

I can add one more thing: read and share Melissa’s book, You Carried Me: a Daughter’s Memoir (2018: Plough Publishing House). She tells her story with compassion and grace.

Post header image by truthseeker08/Pixabay.com

“The power of presence”: Manchester launches 40DFL, Spring ’22

A few notes on the kickoff rally for Manchester, NH’s latest 40 Days for Life campaign:

How many times did I take these launch rallies for granted, pre-Covid? Pandemic precautions kept indoor meetings to a minimum over the past couple of years. State and municipal restrictions and recommendations are easing. Gathering at St. Thomas parish hall in Derry with other 40 Days for Life supporters last weekend felt like an exceptional celebration. It was good to greet neighbors old and new.

Althea Ansah speaking at Manchester (NH) 40 Days for Life rally, Spring 2022. Ellen Kolb photo.

Althea Ansah could have spent twice as much time at the microphone, and I still would have wanted to hear more from her. She’s a former Student for Life leader at UNH, and now she’s a WIC nutritionist and a volunteer with New Hampshire Right to Life.

She said that as a high school student, she had been supportive of abortion, seeing it as an aspect of women’s rights. As she learned more about fetal development, abortion took on another meaning. “It was like a light bulb went off.” Once at UNH, “my walls broke down.” She described going to the national March for Life in 2020 and feeling overwhelmed at seeing so many people coming together to support families.

Now, she values the many roles people have in pro-life work: legislation, prayer, apologetics, reducing the demand for abortions, and – “my favorite” – providing supportive services for people in need. There’s work for everyone. “We all have a personal stake in abortion.”

Mariah McCarron, Students for Life New England Regional Coordinator, speaking at 40 Days for Life rally in Derry NH. Ellen Kolb photo.

Did you know there are nine Students for Life chapters in New Hampshire? I didn’t, until SFL’s Mariah McCarron told me so. This includes high schools and colleges. It also includes places one wouldn’t necessarily expect, like UNH and Dartmouth. More power to them.

Mariah is SFL’s New England Regional Coordinator. She’s a veteran of sidewalk prayer outside abortion facilities, going back to her days as a college student in upstate New York. She urged her listeners in Derry to keep in mind “the power of presence. Your presence means more on the sidewalk than you will ever know.” It affects all those entering and leaving and passing by the facility, some of whom won’t respond right away but will be moved to seek conversation later. Even one’s Uber driver can notice and ask about the sidewalk witnessing, as Mariah once learned to her surprise.

man at podium wearing "40 Days for Life" shirt
Norm Thibault, campaign coordinator, Manchester 40 Days for Life Spring 2022. Ellen Kolb photo.

Norm Thibault, coordinator for the Manchester 40DFL campaign, went through all the necessary admin announcements – the campaign website, how to sign up for vigil hours, and so on – and wrapped it up with a brisk reminder. “You are pro-life supporters. Don’t let anyone call you anti-anything.”

At one of the information tables in the room, it was good to see someone representing St. Gianna’s Place, which provides shelter and support to pregnant women who would otherwise be unhoused.

Volunteers from Pennacook Pregnancy Center were there as well with literature and business cards to share. They’ll no doubt be happy to provide more to anyone who can use them. Located around the corner from the abortion facility on which 40DFL’s efforts are focused, the Center is a place for information, referral to services, and practical support for pregnant and parenting women and their partners.

Read more about New Hampshire’s three campaigns and about 40 Days for Life worldwide.