Right to life as a “niche ideological issue”

Political parties, like fire, make good servants and awful masters. I’ve discoursed on this at some length elsewhere, so I’ll try to keep this brief.

The most recent edition of the New Hampshire Sunday News featured an op-ed column from a gentleman well-known in New Hampshire political circles. He’s supportive of many Republicans, and he has his own communications consulting firm. His essays are often featured in the Union Leader/ NH Sunday News.

His recent column touted the announced goals of the Republican majorities in the state Senate. The headline cheerfully blared “Senate GOP puts NH families first”. The column went on to list the policy priorities announced by leaders of the Senate majority at a recent press conference.

Economic issues came first, including a balanced state budget that protects both vulnerable populations as well as taxpayers (there’s overlap there, but I’ll let that pass for now). Then came the rest of the cars on the agenda train: targeted education aid, respect for parental rights and children’s education options, lower electric rates, improved broadband access, solutions to homelessness and housing, improving the state’s mental health services system, and protecting the environment.

I see laudable goals, some of them overdue, even if they might give small-government conservatives fits. But did you notice something missing? The columnist has you covered. “Absent from their agenda are niche ideological issues and special interest appeals.”

I assume that one of those “niche ideological issues” dismissed by the columnist and the Senate is the right to life.

Tough luck, ladies and gentlemen. The minority party has already introduced legislation to lock abortion into the New Hampshire constitution and statutes. There’s also a bill to repeal the Fetal Life Protection Act altogether. The right to life is on your agenda whether you like it or not. If you think stressing the economy is going to get you past that fact, take a look at the last election.

Voters who are both Republican and pro-life might want to remind their party that they don’t fit into a niche. They can be grateful for the timely reminder from the columnist that no one can count on a political party to defend the right to life during State House debates. Count instead on individuals willing to buck their party in order to defend that basic right, without which all the other policy goals are just so much vote-buying.

NH Sunday News link (possibly paywalled): https://www.unionleader.com/opinion/columnists/patrick-hynes-senate-gop-puts-nh-families-first/article_42286be4-e93e-51e1-97af-87046e9e3339.html

Header image by Piro/Pixabay

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 ellenkolbnh@gmail.com.

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 ellenkolb.com. 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!

Legislators to meet for Organization Day December 7

An excerpt from the newsletter I sent to subscribers today:

A year ago, I was standing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court with about 2000 other people, rallying as the Justices heard the arguments in the Dobbs case. I took the photo below that morning, as the bright sky seemed to express all our hopes.

Outside the U.S. Supreme Court the day of arguments in the Dobbs case, 12/1/21

Since then, New Hampshire has passed the Fetal Life Protection Act, then weakened it. The Dobbs decision has overturned Roe, but it didn’t recognize a right to life. 

Against that backdrop, New Hampshire legislators will meet next week for Organization Day, kicking off the 2023 legislative session. Winners of November’s state House and Senate election will take office on Wednesday, December 7, at 10:00 a.m. The day’s session is open to the public and should also be live-streamed. 

Today’s newsletter included a preview of the life-issue legislation coming to the State House in 2023. If you’re not already a subscriber, click on http://eepurl.com/hTBV09 and I’ll make sure you get this and future editions. The occasional email newsletters are a supplement to the blog.

Thirty minutes to look back, then turn the page

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.

Dobbs: mishandled

“…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.

Subscribe to the Leaven for the Loaf newsletter

Readers, I hope you’ll take a moment to find and click on the “subscribe to newsletter” button on this site. The Leaven for the Loaf newsletter is an occasional supplement to this blog, arriving in your email inbox once a month or so. Each edition is short and sweet (if I may say so myself) and provides news you can use, with links to take you to relevant information. Sometimes I share the best pro-life writing from other sources. The most recent edition mentions the upcoming election, of course, but it also previews what a concerned voter can do after the election.

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Many thanks to discerning readers, one and all!