Leaven for the Loaf marks ten years with anthology “Pro-Life Journeys”

I started this blog in April 2012. Early in 2022, with the ten-year anniversary approaching, I decided that creating a short anthology of posts would be a nice way to celebrate. The project took much longer than I expected. Who knew a book of less than eighty pages could require a dozen drafts?…uh…pretty much every author I consulted during the process, that’s who. Live and learn.

I’m happy to offer the finished product, in e-book format. Pro-Life Journeys is now available as a Kindle e-book on Amazon.com. A paperback version is in the works, and it will be available on Amazon as well.

cover of book Pro-Life Journeys by Ellen Kolb

Selecting the posts to include was difficult, but I think you’ll agree that the people whose stories I share are worth hearing about again – or reading about for the first time, if you’re new to the blog. For example, I’ve included the story of the families whose persistence led to New Hampshire’s fetal homicide law. There are interviews with people who work in pregnancy care centers. There are stories shared with me by former abortion workers, one local and one nationally-known. Those are just a few of the people you’ll encounter in the book. I take note of a couple of policy debates as well.

I called the final chapter “The Journey Ahead.” What can people committed to the right to life do now, in a post-Dobbs environment? I offer what I hope are constructive thoughts about that.

Pro-Life Journeys distills ten years of posts down to a short collection of stories about memorable people whose words and work can inspire us. I hope the e-book finds a place in your library!

By the way, you don’t need a Kindle tablet to read the e-book. The Kindle app is available via Google Play and the Apple Store for use on other devices.

If you like what you read, please help me share the news! Every self-published book including Pro-Life Journeys depends on readers’ reviews, social media posts, and good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Let’s enjoy this particular journey as a team.

To all the blog’s readers, thank you for giving Leaven for the Loaf its staying power. Here’s to more years ahead.

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!

A sad reminder of the Safe Haven law

December in New Hampshire can mean bitter cold nights. Anyone living in makeshift quarters is in for a rough time. A few nights ago, a woman living in a tent in Manchester gave birth and then allegedly misled emergency responders about her baby’s location. There’s no telling for sure what she was experiencing. Pain from labor and delivery; mental illness; chemical impairment; fear of losing the only shelter she had: any or all could have affected her judgment. Miraculously, the premature baby eventually was found alive and is now reportedly hospitalized. The mother faces charges including child endangerment.

The mother might not have been in a position to know about the Safe Haven law, which would have let her bring her newborn baby to any police or fire station – even a church – without any threat of prosecution for child endangerment or abandonment. Circumstances were terrible all around for mother and child that night. If there are any good outcomes from the media coverage of the night’s events, one is surely the mention of Safe Haven. Maybe some other mother and child will benefit from that.

New Hampshire’s Safe Haven law was passed in 2003. It was written to deter abandonment of newborn infants by allowing anyone to bring a child up to 7 days old to a “haven” – hospital, police or fire station, or church – with no questions asked, so that the child can be cared for even if the parent isn’t willing or able to do so.

I attended the hearings on that bill many years ago. Its passage was a bipartisan victory. The chief sponsor was Phyllis Woods, Republican from Dover. Among the eight other sponsors was Barbara Hull Richardson, Democrat from Keene. The House vote was 327-45. The Senate passed it on a voice vote after defeating an amendment proposed by the chamber’s six Democrats. Governor Craig Benson signed it in May 2003.

In short, it was as uncontroversial a life-issue bill as one could hope to see. It’s good for babies and good for a scared or desperate unprepared parent. And it only works if people know about it.

Reality check: where’s the NH abortion “ban”?

A reader sent me a message tonight asking where to find the text of New Hampshire’s Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA), which does not restrict abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy. That’s the abortion “ban” that abortion-friendly candidates and PACs keep talking about as the November 8 election approaches.

The reader wanted to show a skeptical neighbor that the current law really does have exceptions for “fetal abnormalities incompatible with life.” When she did an online search for the relevant law – RSA 329:44 – she found no such exception in the first search result she found. I looked at the page kicked up by her search. Then I saw the note at the bottom of the page: “eff[ective] Jan. 1, 2022.”

The search result she saw at first didn’t show the amended version of the law. The amendment went into effect in May of 2022.

To find the updated language, I went to the General Court website and looked for the chaptered final version of HB 1609, the bill that amended FLPA.

Here’s the situation: abortion is hardly banned in New Hampshire.

There is no limitation on abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy, except for a parental notification provision for minors seeking abortion, which can be sidestepped if the minor opts for a judicial bypass.

FLPA (RSA 329:44 as amended) limits abortions after the fetus reaches a gestational age of 24 weeks, with the following exceptions: “fetal abnormalities incompatible with life,” or a medical emergency, defined in the law as “a condition in which an abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or when continuation of the pregnancy will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function, as defined in RSA 329:43, V, of the pregnant woman.”

Whether or not you think exceptions are a good idea, they’re in there. This is all a matter of public record. Anyone attempting to obscure or deny the language of the law is not dealing in truth.

The only other abortion statute we have makes partial-birth abortion illegal. That law was passed over Gov. Lynch’s veto in 2012. Partial-birth abortion is a procedure in which the preborn child is partially delivered before being killed. The partial-birth-abortion law restricts one abortion method, not abortion in general.

I salute the reader who contacted me about this. She’s working to bring good sense and accurate information into a conversation with a neighbor. May her effort bear good fruit.

Pro-life candidates earn endorsements from NH Right to Life

The New Hampshire Right to Life PAC has released its voter guide for the general election on November 8, covering state-level races.

NHRTL-PAC’s guide also offers quotes from candidates for federal offices, without making endorsements. The PAC is not registered for federal races.

Cornerstone Action, another state-level organization, offers a legislative scorecard and other information about the election at https://www.nhcornerstone.org/election2022/.