Year in review: a surprising #1 spot on the blog

In politically momentous year for life-issue news, the most popular post on Leaven for the Loaf wasn’t technically a “post” at all. It wasn’t even political. It was a page: Pregnancy Resources in New Hampshire.

I wrote about the Dobbs decision and the leak that preceded it, and those posts drew a lot of readers. Likewise for alerts about important hearings in Concord. But the number one thing that readers sought here in 2022, judging from the number of views, was information on the pregnancy care centers and allied agencies providing support for babies and parents alike.

That’s fitting, in a year when we’ve been reminded repeatedly that political victories have their limits. I think when Dobbs pushed abortion policy to the states, it also prompted us to look at what we’re doing locally in terms of service and witness. People are looking for practical ways to help.

Some abortion advocates used Dobbs as an excuse to attack pregnancy care centers. All the more reason to keep those centers going and thriving, in my opinion.

People of the year

My People of the Year are the individuals behind the New Hampshire centers providing abortion-free care. Each staff member and volunteer is critical to the success of a center. The relationships they build with the people they serve do more than any court can do to build a culture of life. I nod to donors as well. Financial support translates good intentions into positive action.

The “do better” award

If I still had a little scuffed participation trophy from my kids’ earliest years on the town soccer team, I’d haul it out and re-purpose it here.

My “Do Better” award goes to the 2022 political candidates who talked about inflation when opponents were talking about how abortion limitations threatened women’s lives. You know who you are. The voters sure do.

Coming in 2023

Pro-Life Journeys, an anthology from the first ten years of Leaven for the Loaf, will be published within a few days on Amazon. I’m very excited to share stories from some of the most inspiring people I’ve written about, who deliver timeless messages. Watch for more information in the next Leaven email newsletter, coming out the first week in January.

Leaven for the Loaf will be covering legislation in Concord, keeping you updated on what’s happening and how you can affect the outcome. I’m especially keen to report on the effort to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would give abortion constitutional protection. It’s a budget year, and budgets involve more than numbers; recall that’s how the Fetal Life Protection Act was finally passed in 2021.

Because of the razor-thin GOP majority in the New Hampshire House, leaders of the minority were able to persuade House leadership that a 50-50 split of committee seats was a good idea. Look forward to some interesting outcomes in Judiciary, for example.

I intend to report on more pregnancy care centers and their services. The leaders of Pathways in Littleton and Options in Rochester have been generous with their time when I’ve visited them. They left me with a new understanding of how to serve a community.

Are you planning a pro-life event in your area? I’d like to hear about it and possibly cover it for the blog. Send me an email at

My speaking schedule for 2022 will kick off in a couple of weeks at a private event in Hollis. May I help you as a speaker for your event or show? Send me an email and let’s discuss it.

On a personal note

Readers who have been kind enough to follow my writing across several blogs on unrelated topics can now keep up with the whole darn thing at I guarantee it’ll be the only site you’ll see from an activist pro-life New Hampshire Catholic hiker who can’t stop scribbling. I hope you’ll join me there and subscribe to the site’s own newsletter.

May God bless you abundantly in the New Year!

Best of 2020: pro-life neighbors at work

No contest: this year’s rock stars have been the staff, volunteers, and board members of New Hampshire agencies that offer pro-life assistance and support to pregnant and parenting women.

This odd year calls for an unusual best-of list. I won’t list multiple categories or runners-up. Pregnancy care centers have swept the board, as far as I’m concerned. They are committed to being effective and abortion-free.

Here’s a link to contact information for the agencies I know about. There’s probably one near you, if you’re a Granite Stater. I welcome corrections and updates.

Continue reading “Best of 2020: pro-life neighbors at work”

A 2019 Celebration: St. Gianna’s Place

Paid employment and blogging-for-the-love-of-it don’t always mix, as attested by the long stretches between posts this year on Leaven. I’ll start my 2019 review with a resolution for 2020: up my game. I’m as grateful for my readers as I am for clients.

In the last few days of the year, I’ll have an update on some New Hampshire life-issue bills filed for 2020. We’ll take a look at state-level races to be decided in next November’s election. I’ll throw in a few save-the-dates for 40 Days for Life activities and similar events. You’ll see links to some useful websites and apps. All this will be posted by midnight on New Year’s Eve, if all goes well.

For now, let the roundup begin with a cheer for the opening of St. Gianna’s Place.

“A safe harbor for mother and child,” says the organization’s tagline. It’s that, and more: a reminder to me that practical tenacity and seemingly-impractical faith are both essential when human beings are trying to care for each other.

The founders of St. Gianna’s knew they wanted to create a shelter for otherwise-homeless pregnant and parenting women in south-central New Hampshire. They created a board. They raised funds. They had a plan. One thing kept eluding them: an actual facility. The same real estate market that challenges aspiring homeowners in this area challenged the St. Gianna’s team.

2019 saw a breakthrough, with a church in Hudson making an unoccupied building available. To make a long story short – and in the process, to gloss over the efforts of many volunteers – St. Gianna’s Place is now up and running.

I take heart and encouragement from every person who helped make that happen. You can, too.

Read more about St. Gianna’s Place on its website. There will be an ongoing need for donations and volunteers in support of the women and children served at St. Gianna’s Place.

Meeting a human-services need means coming up with more than just good intentions. The team behind St. Gianna’s Place has been up to the challenge.

Reviewing 2018, Welcoming 2019

A New Year’s toast: to life! Thank you to the readers who have sustained Leaven for the Loaf, and thank you to everyone whose pro-life work has kept me inspired and challenged all along the way. Join me now as I pack away some artifacts of the year just ended.

The Posts

It’s a mixed bag of topics for the most-viewed posts of 2018.

  1. CareNet: John Oliver Gets It Wrong About Pregnancy Centers. When a late-night TV personality used his platform to criticize pro-life pregnancy care centers, CareNet’s CEO wasted no time setting him straight, with a video offering a positive response to a hostile report.
  2. Gallery: New Hampshire March for Life 2018. Speaker Jennifer Christie of Save the 1 shared her powerful story.
  3. Gosnell: Film Review. In the hands of an inept screenwriter or the wrong director, this true-crime story could have gone badly awry.  The makers of Gosnell got it right. The film will be coming to on-demand video and DVD in early 2019.
  4. But Wait, There’s More. This was a brief report on an ill-advised bill that would have nullified New Hampshire’s parental notification law. The House later killed the bill.
  5. Trust Women, You Say? Start Here. Coverage of January’s hearing on a bill, HB 1707, that would have established comprehensive informed consent requirements for abortion.
  6. A Genteel Rant on Party Unity. In which I’m reminded (yet again) that political-party-linked activism is not always helpful in building a culture of life.
  7. Abortion Statistics: “Inexpedient to Legislate.” “Two hundred [N.H.] legislators voted like people who are afraid of evidence-based public health policy and afraid of political retribution from abortion providers.” Another statistics bill has been introduced for 2019.
  8. Slamming Shut a Doorway to Assisted Suicide. A state senator let slip that her proposed study committee on end-of-life issues was actually a path to an assisted suicide law. Her fellow senators took her at her word and killed her bill. A similar bill is on the way for the coming legislative session.
  9. Why I’m Voting No on Question 2. A ballot question about adding a “privacy” amendment to the state constitution passed, not long after I posted this cautionary message. Time will tell if my concerns had merit.
  10. Do Not Accept Anything As The Truth If It Lacks Love.” Wise words from St. Teresa Benedicta.

The Events

I reported from the state and national Marches for Life in 2018, and I plan to do the same in 2019. On January 12, less than two weeks from now, you can attend any portion of the day-long program of events that accompany the march in Concord. The March for Life in Washington will be held the following Friday, January 18.

2018 brought two more 40 Days for Life campaigns. The next one is coming up in a little over a month, and you’ll be hearing more from me about that in the coming days.

I went to St. Louis, Missouri for the third annual Pro-Life Women’s Conference last June. The first PLWC in 2016 was organized by Abby Johnson and the team at And Then There Were None. Since then, the conference has grown to include a diverse group of speakers and attendees guaranteed to broaden the horizons of anyone working in the pro-life movement. For just one example, read the message from one of this year’s featured speakers, Savannah Marten: “We find the tables we need to be sitting at.”

The next Pro-Life Women’s Conference is scheduled for June 2019 in New Orleans. I’m already saving my pennies for it. Check out the event’s web site; you might want to make the trip, too.

Best Short Video: “Desperate Measures”

For media in 2018, the Gosnell film is in a class by itself. For short video, I was glad to find and share “Desperate Measures” by Sidewalk Advocates for Life.  Featuring former abortion workers who are now committed pro-lifers, the video is a direct response to recent sit-ins and “rescues” at abortion facilities. The message is don’t do it – and here’s the better way to carry out peaceful pro-life witness. 

Looking Ahead

I’ll be back at the State House to report on 2019 legislation including buffer zone repeal, abortion statistics, and death penalty repeal. I’ll venture to claim that since 2012, no other New Hampshire blog has covered life-issue bills in Concord to the extent attempted by this little enterprise called Leaven for the Loaf. I aim to keep it going.

When my travels lead me to inspirational people and places, you’ll hear about them.

Over a year ago, I had intended to publish an anthology of Leaven posts – and I’m glad I didn’t! The manuscript was not ready for prime time. In 2019, on a much more modest scale than first envisioned, the anthology will be ready.

As longtime readers will have noticed, Facebook and Twitter became significant extensions of the blog in 2018, especially during coverage of marches and conferences. If you’re not following those social media feeds yet, I invite you to do so.

The New Year is here. Let’s make the most of it.

Notes on 2017

Looking back on the year from my blogger’s perch, I see lots of people who have inspired me in great and little ways. I hope I’ve passed that inspiration on to you, through that what I’ve written about them along the way.

Sarah and Griffin’s Law: Finally, N.H. Has a Fetal Homicide Law

The front page of the December 29 New Hampshire Union Leader has a most satisfying headline.

Headline: fetal homicide law now on the books in N.H.
N.H. Union Leader headline, 12/29/17: fetal homicide law now on the books.

For close to two decades, state legislators – particularly Kathy Souza of Manchester, who was working on this long before she was elected to the House – had tried to pass fetal homicide legislation, recognizing unborn victims of violence and allowing prosecutors to bring charges accordingly. For five years on this blog, I wrote about attempts to pass such a law and why the law was necessary.

Then came the family of Griffin Kenison. They pushed hard for a law. They were rebuffed. They kept coming back – mother and father and grandparents and extended family – and they pushed again. They were joined by the family of Sarah Crucitti, who pushed right along with Griffin’s family. Last June, both families stood by Governor Chris Sununu as he signed the law named for their children.

He would have had nothing to sign had those families not fought the way they did.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful to every persistent legislator who co-sponsored fetal homicide legislation over the years, and to the House and Senate members who voted the right way. I acknowledge that Governor Sununu followed through on his pledge to sign a fetal homicide bill if one came to his desk.

And with all that, I trust that the governor and the legislators won’t think too unkindly of me when I say that where Sarah and Griffin’s Law is concerned, the families are my heroes.

Honorable Mentions

The board of St. Gianna’s Place, engaged in the tough work of launching a new shelter for pregnant and parenting women. I hope that by this time next year, they’ll have a house. You can help.

Darlene Pawlik, for her work against human trafficking this year (as if her work with Save the 1 weren’t enough). She was instrumental in organizing a much-needed briefing for legislators.

Executive Councilor Dave Wheeler, for consistently upholding the idea that taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing any abortion provider.

Beth Gaby, Jackie McCoy, and Sheila DePuydt for leading peaceful, prayerful 40 Days for Life campaigns in Concord, Greenland, and Manchester.

Cathy Kelley and her year-round prayer partners outside PP’s Manchester office – not only for peaceful persistence, but also for reporting from the scene.

Catholic Medical Center and Sarah Bascle, M.D., for opening the Women’s Wellness and Fertility Center at CMC.

I wish I knew the names of all the staffers and volunteers at the pregnancy care centers statewide. Look up the center nearest you and thank them yourself, and then ask how you can help.

From One Year Ago, My Questions for 2017 – and the Answers

Will the House and Senate see their way to passing abortion statistics and fetal homicide bills, which are being introduced once again? Stats no, fetal homicide yes. A stats bill was held over last spring and will get a House vote January 3 or 4.

Will Governor-elect Sununu follow through on his pledge to support legislation on (among other things) fetal homicide, buffer zone repeal, conscience rights, and a ban on late-term abortion? Or was his statement of support not a pledge? He signed fetal homicide – the only one of these proposed bills that got to his desk.

Will abortion providers finally enforce the buffer zone law they fought to get?  No.

Will  the incoming presidential Administration drive a stake through the heart of the HHS/contraceptive mandate, or will women’s fertility still be considered a disease under whatever might replace the “Affordable” Care Act?  And speaking of the mandate, will the federal government finally leave the Little Sisters of the Poor alone? President Trump exempted the Little Sisters outright from the mandate last spring, and broadened exemptions to it in October. A small good step, but not exactly what I call driving a stake, since the mandate itself is still on the books.

Will the incoming President take pro-life policy seriously, and will the pro-lifers who supported him give him what he deserves if he doesn’t?  I’ll give him this much: he takes the pro-lifers who supported him seriously. He has taken steps to reduce taxpayer funding of abortions (including reducing funding to a U.N. agency complicit in forced-abortion policies in China). I’m glad it’s not Hillary Clinton making Supreme Court appointments, but I’ll withhold my raves about Neal Gorsuch until I see how he actually votes. 

How will coverage of the March for Life compare to coverage of the planned January   “women’s march” in DC that will apparently have no place for pro-life women? Ditto for the state level. I’m tellin’ ya, pro-lifers should have invented pink hats with catchy names years ago. But it sure was fun to see so much news coverage of the uproar arising from the fact that “women’s march” organizers “disinvited” a pro-life group.  As a result, New Wave Feminists got a huge boost in visibility and support, and Abby Johnson and And Then There Were None showed up as well.  As for the state level, well…we learned (again) to jump on media outlets’ inaccurate reports of attendance. The corrections might be on an inside page, but we do what we can.

Best Book

Gosnell, by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer. From my April review: “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.'”

Prediction for 2018 About Which I Hope I’m Wrong

The Republican majority in Concord is not a pro-life majority; otherwise, buffer zone repeal and abortion stats would have passed last spring. One could argue that where the life issues are concerned, there’s no difference between parties. That’s not true, but I understand the frustration that fosters such a notion. The GOP still at least has a platform acknowledging the right to life.

But here’s what I think could happen next November: a loss of 20 pro-life seats in the N.H. House. One reason, though not the only one: Democrats will ensure that Republicans are tied to presidential tweets.

I shall return to this the day after the November 2018 election, and I’ll cheerfully (and figuratively) eat crow if circumstances so dictate.

Happy 2018! 

I’ll strive to keep providing you with good informative reading. I couldn’t do this without your support. Thanks for following along!