I often spend the morning after an election at a local coffee shop or diner. I invite politically-minded acquaintances. There’s one rule: whatever happened on Election Day, we take 30 minutes to crab and moan about any results worth crabbing and moaning about. Once the 31st minute hits, the post-mortem is over. We look to the future.
No one joined me this week. I still have my 30 minutes to go.
Quick review of this week’s election results: Members of New Hampshire’s federal delegation, abortion advocates all, were re-elected. New Hampshire’s enormously popular self-described pro-choice governor won big, in one of the most impressive results in the state, making him even more influential in the NHGOP than before. The 400-member New Hampshire House went from 213 Republican seats to just a shade over 200, depending on how recounts go. The New Hampshire Senate is narrowly Republican, short of the number needed to override any veto the governor might take it into his head to issue. The Executive Council is 4-1 Republican, with none of the Republicans getting more than 53.2% of a district’s vote.
“…please, GOP, don’t screw this up by dodging Dobbs.” That was my plea in June after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. “Look for apocalyptic pronouncements from [Democrat] candidates about how Dobbs undermines women and threatens the Republic.” Check. I added at the time that if Republican candidates tried to shift focus to inflation and the economy, they’d get what they deserved.
They sure did.
The Democratic Party up and down the ticket used abortion as its leading message, warning that women’s rights were at risk. No mention from them – or from Republicans, for that matter – of New Hampshire’s pro-life women. Federally, Republicans went with inflation as the main reason to vote GOP.
Here at home, how many Republicans did you hear talk about the risk to medical conscience rights if abortion-friendly candidates win? How many Republicans vowed to stand firm against public funding of abortion, including within Medicaid? How many talked about our state’s failure to report abortion statistics, which is a women’s health issue? With a slim majority, will New Hampshire Republican leaders decide that the time isn’t right to oppose the proposed state constitutional amendment that would make the direct intentional termination of human life a “right”?
I learned in 2011 and 2012 not to put faith in GOP majorities, large or small, where the right to life is concerned. The New Hampshire senate in that biennium had a 19-5 Republican majority. Can’t get much more impressive that that. You know what came out of that session? Parental notification and a ban on partial birth abortion. Good news. But I remember what failed in the Senate back then, too, after House passage: a prohibition on public funding of abortion (tabled), a Women’s Right to Know Act to require informed consent for abortion (Inexpedient to Legislate), and a post-20-week abortion limitation (interim study).
My 30 minutes are up.
The 31st minute and beyond
I thank God that pro-life work doesn’t depend on who’s in office. Grassroots work will yield results in the long run. If no group dedicated to constructive action already exists in your church or town or group, now’s the time to start one. Don’t wait for someone higher up the organizational chart to give you permission. Better that you work alone than not at all, but working with a group helps provide structure and encouragement for constructive work.
Here are few ideas, and this is hardly a comprehensive list.
Pregnancy care centers around the state offer abortion-free care for women and their families. They need volunteers, staff, and board members. They need advocates in the community who tour the facilities, get to know the workers, and then share the good news with others, one conversation at a time, including conversations with elected officials. The centers need resources not only for direct aid to vulnerable clients but also for facility security.
Eugenic abortion was written into New Hampshire law this year, signaling a troubling better-dead-than-disabled policy preference that has implications across the life-issue spectrum. Learn to tell your story, if you’ve carried to term a child with a life-limiting diagnosis. Learn to tell your story if you’re living with a disability or living with a terminal illness. Show how we can help each other choose life. Your story could help someone realize that there’s a human cost to embracing the direct intentional termination of human life.
I hope voters within the pro-life movement have learned that being in thrall to politicians who say they’re pro-life, and then express contempt for anyone who disagrees with them, yields only Pyrrhic victories.
Write thank-you notes to the people you know whose work helps build a culture of life. I’m going to be writing a few notes today, to pro-life reps who will be leaving office soon. They must have felt isolated at times.
Nonviolent public action doesn’t depend on majorities. Join vigils. Pray and work. If a march is constructive, be part of it. Come to hearings, and bring a friend.
I’ve been all over the state to speak about constructive civic engagement for pro-life Granite Staters. If I can be of assistance to you in your area, let me know.
2023, here we come.