On the passing of an abortion provider

My local paper this morning carried the obituary of a physician who seems to have lived a long and happy life, who had a large and loving family, who was engaged in his community, and who had no regrets. He died peacefully in his sleep.

I noticed the name at the top of the obituary, and I was immediately carried back twenty-nine years, when the remains of aborted children were found in the Concord dump. It turned out that those remains had come from the medical practice of the physician whose death was reported today. The upshot of the appalling discovery was that the physician promised to arrange for disposal of future remains in a manner befitting medical waste.

Understandably, that incident went unmentioned in the formal obituary.  Continue reading “On the passing of an abortion provider”

For anyone planning to attend the Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, August 5, here are some particulars for those who haven’t been to the State House before.

State House, Concord NH
State House, Concord NH

The Executive Council will meet at 10 a.m. on August 5. Item number 18 on their 100+ item agenda is a family planning contract that includes funds for three abortion providers, with the largest dollar amount going to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood of New Hampshire Action Fund is planning a pre-meeting rally and is expected to have a large crowd of supporters at the meeting. Arrive early if you want to find parking and maybe even a seat.

The Executive Council chambers are on the second floor of the State House in Concord, 107 N. Main Street. The closest exit off of I-93 is #14 – BUT if you go online for directions or a map, be aware that there is construction on Main Street in front of the State House, and access to Main Street could be limited. Allow plenty of time.

Parking is often challenging near the State House. See the City of Concord’s parking information to locate parking garages. There is on-street parking with a two-hour limit; in the garages you can park longer. Bring a debit card for parking kiosks. Read the kiosk carefully to see if you’re at a location where you need to leave your receipt on your car’s dashboard.

Placards not mounted to sticks or posts are allowed in the State House. You will probably not be able to bring them into the Council chamber. Pro-life buttons, stickers and t-shirts are fine.

For more on the Councilors and the contract, see the most recent Leaven newsletter and recent posts on the blog.

How a landfill figures into NH’s March for Life

Once a year at 9 a.m. on a January Saturday, people gather at the gate outside Concord, New Hampshire’s transfer station and landfill. They pray and hold signs, regardless of bitter weather. They park their cars along the roadside, since no one builds parking lots at landfills to accommodate demonstrations. It seems an odd place for a gathering, especially since there’s a March for Life later in the day a mile or so away, in far more conventional surroundings. Why pray at a landfill?

Because it’s a burial ground. The remains of between fifty and eighty aborted children were discovered there in 1988. It didn’t take long to identify the abortion provider. He was scolded for improperly disposing of medical waste, and he promised to do the job right (incineration?) in the future.  Twenty-seven years later, the dump is now the transfer station, and human remains are still in the former landfill. Annually since 1989, January visitors have gathered to honor the memory of the children.

From NHRTL’s Winter 1989 newsletter

My files yielded up an old New Hampshire Right to Life newsletter, with this account of the aftermath of the discovery of the babies’ remains. I’ve taken the liberty of correcting a couple of typos in the original text.

Babies’ bodies found in Concord landfill: The grisly discovery of the bodies of aborted babies in the Concord Landfill remains a focal point of Pro-life interest this January. Although the news was widely published in Concord, it received only brief mention across the state.

The bodies were discovered by dump workers in trash bags containing medical waste and contaminated material (sic). Further investigation has disclosed that the bodies were traced to the Concord Obstetrics and Gynecology Professional Assoc. It is possible that such “waste material” has been dumped at the landfill illegally for upwards of five years.

New Hampshire Right to Life, along with other concerned individuals and organizations, has been trying to recover the bodies for decent burial. Bishop [Odore] Gendron, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of New Hampshire, has offered to bury the bodies which may be recovered, in land donated by Mount Calvary Cemetery. [Permission for removal of the remains was denied.]

Gov. John Sununu has expressed shock and anger at the find. NH Right to Life has written to ask the Governor’s help in retrieving the most recently discovered bodies, and to seek his influence in passing legislation resubmitted to provide for the proper and dignified disposal of human remains, including fetal remains. This bill is similar to one passed by the [N.H.] Senate in 1986, and killed in the House. Testimony at that time suggested that there was no need for such legislation as no problems existed.

Chairman Marie Taylor of RTL has received cooperation from the Governor and the Attorney General in her attempt to find out as much as possible about this regrettable situation. 

Efforts to have a memorial service at the landfill on Jan. 21 were slowed recently as a permit was refused for inside the dump [property]. Marie Taylor was told that any gathering inside the dump could slow down traffic in and out. NH Right to Life was later granted a permit to allow various religious groups to gather outside the landfill in brief prayer for those babies buried there.

The first gathering: a U.S. Senator makes the trip

I was at the first memorial service in 1989, as one of the speakers. I hope I was brief; I don’t remember what I said, but I sure remember a biting wind. The featured speaker – and the only reason reporters came to see what was going on – was New Hampshire’s U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey. He was blunt and refreshing, as was his custom. He wrapped up with a poem he had composed the evening before. I recall the faces of a few bemused reporters who obviously hadn’t expected a literary premiere. The last few lines:

Here lie the remains of helpless infants destroyed, 

Midst filth and rotting trash.

And here lies mercy, and here lies decency,

And here lies virtue, and here lies justice.

With the children, murdered and deeply mourned.

It still happens: news from Rhode Island

Here’s a statement issued this week:

In light of the recent discovery of a fetus in a local sewage facility, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence has reached out to the East Providence police and offered to provide a proper burial in one of their Catholic cemeteries.

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said, “The fetus that was discovered is a child of God. That it was found in a sewage treatment plant is profoundly disturbing. This baby deserves a decent and dignified burial which the Church is anxious to provide.”

“We also pray for the spiritual and personal well-being of this child’s mother,” Bishop added.

[Update, June 2015: “Unclaimed RI baby finally laid to rest“]

The witness continues

At 9 a.m. this coming Saturday, a small group will gather for prayer outside the gate of the Concord transfer station, just as people have gathered every year since 1989.  Concord neighbors arriving to drop off their trash will wonder what’s going on, and the people who have come to pray will be happy to tell them. There probably won’t be any U.S. Senators on site, and the press coverage will probably be a bit thin.

But still, once upon a time, human remains were dumped there as trash. This bears remembering.

Notes from NH’s 2014 March for Life

NH March For Life 2014 - 1

Snow was falling steadily by the time New Hampshire’s 2014 March for Life got started on January 18. No big deal. This is northern New England. We’ve had colder days for the March; I once held the microphone for the keynote speaker when the temperature was 15 degrees and the speeches all took place on the State House steps instead of the St. John the Evangelist parish hall.

The annual event always begins with a brief service at the Concord landfill, memorializing the preborn children whose remains were found there in 1988. I was unable to attend this year’s service, but I spoke later in the day with Pastor Garrett Lear, who led the day’s prayers at the landfill. He told me 45 people came to the 9 a.m. service. That’s an exceptional turnout for this low-key gathering that seldom draws as much coverage as the March itself.

By 11 a.m., people began to gather on the State House plaza. Some came from church services. There were students, retirees, and families with kids in strollers.

Along the way, we were directed under the terms of the event permit to avoid walking in front of the Feminist Health Center at the corner of Main and Thompson. That meant going around a block, which served to emphasize the size of the March.

Rep. Dan Itse, speaking after the march, explained the legislative process
Rep. Dan Itse, speaking after the march, explained the legislative process
Rep. Candace Bouchard (white vest) kept an eye on pro-life marchers
Rep. Candace Bouchard (white vest) kept an eye on pro-life marchers

I counted six states reps among the pro-lifers on Saturday: Reps. Jane Cormier, Gary Hopper, Dan Itse, David Murotake, Jeanine Notter, and Lenette Peterson. A fellow marcher told me she spotted Rep. Bob Willette in the crowd as well. On the other side, in a manner of speaking, was Rep. Candace Bouchard, who stood with abortion supporters at the Feminist Health Center displaying signs of their own.

While the march was going on, some folks were setting up display tables, seats, and lunch at St. John the Evangelist Church where the post-march program was held. Every year, a terrific crew of volunteers provides lunch for all comers, including hot soup. I was a huge fan of the soup the other day, after not wearing gloves for most of the walk so that I could take pictures along the way.

Lunch was ready after the march.
Lunch was ready after the march.
Sidewalk across Main Street from the Feminist Health Center ...
Sidewalk across Main Street from the Feminist Health Center …
...with "love your neighbor" set into the pavement.
…with “love your neighbor” set into the pavement.

With a buffer-zone bill now under consideration in Concord, I looked at where law-abiding pro-life witnesses might go if a 25-foot gag zone were to be imposed around the Feminist Health Center. Look what I found: a brand-new building across the street, with a wide sidewalk that has a “love your neighbor” message set into the pavement.

Jeanneane Maxon of AUL was a wonderful keynote speaker, giving us encouraging news about the progress of pro-life legislation around the country. Rep. Itse gave an impromptu lesson in how a bill becomes law, pointing out the ways New Hampshire residents can influence the process. Dianne Hunt, a nurse practitioner, gave a brief introduction to Humanae Vitae Family Healthcare in Londonderry, where she and her team provide what she calls “state of the art, moral, evidence-based family health and fertility care.” (I find this a very exciting development, knowing from my own experience that OB/GYN practitioners who reject abortion and artificial fertility management are extremely rare.) The whole event was sponsored by New Hampshire Right to Life, which generously provided space for information tables and gave a few minutes to anyone who wanted a turn at the mic to promote a project.

Back next year? You bet.