Follow-up in Dover

Yesterday’s post shared the news about a classic grassroots pro-life organizing effort in response to a pro-abortion exhibition at a Dover, NH arts venue. It seems that last night’s peaceful witness attracted even more participants than the first one a few days ago.

From a public post on Facebook from Phyllis Woods, who led the effort: “The experience of seeing nearly seventy prolife defenders come out on a Friday night to stand in witness to the truth that giving birth to a child is normal and abortion is anything but normal, was moving and heartwarming for me and I am both humbled and proud to be counted among them.”

Phyllis has been inspiring me for a long time. Looks like she’s not done yet.

Normalize Life: Peaceful Witness in Dover

Friday, October 18 at 5:30 p.m. – just a few hours from when this post is published – peaceful pro-life witness will be going on outside the Dover Art Center, 1 Washington Street, Dover NH. Read on for what it’s about and how you can participate.

Phyllis Woods of Dover, NH saw that the Art Center in Dover was planning an exhibition intended to – ready for this? – “normalize” abortion. She didn’t wring her hands or try to close the place down. Instead, she sent out the word to pro-life allies: will you come pray with me?

They came. The day the exhibit opened, the pro-life witnesses were on the public sidewalk outside the Art Center. They didn’t try to block anything. They were there to “normalize” life. They’ll be there again today, Friday, October 18, for the exhibit’s official reception. All who are committed to peaceful, non-confrontational pro-life witness are welcome.

By the way, Phyllis has caught some flak on her social media. Feel free to chime in with something edifying.

(Photos in this post are by Phyllis Woods and are used with permission.)

Roses and Resolve

It didn’t start with New York.

Video of New York legislators cheering after the January 22 passage of a pro-abortion law leaves an indelible impression. It certainly kicked up a fuss on my social media feed, as one person after another expressed shock that elected officials could celebrate abortion so publicly.

New Hampshire got there first, as a former state representative called to remind me.

Phyllis Woods
Phyllis Woods

Phyllis Woods of Dover was and is a woman who puts her belief in human dignity into practice every day. Being a state representative, as great an honor as that was, was just a waypoint on her journey of service. She told me recently about the day a bill to prevent partial-birth abortion came to a vote in 2000. Phyllis was chief sponsor, joined by nine co-sponsors.

Yes, 2000. That’s twelve years before New Hampshire legislators finally passed a partial-birth law banning the abortion practice of partially delivering children before killing them.

The docket for the bill in 2000 tells part of the story: the House defeated the bill on an “inexpedient to legislate” motion, 185-176. What the docket doesn’t mention, and what I never knew until Phyllis told me, is what happened right after the vote: one of her colleagues, an abortion advocate opposed to banning the killing of partially-delivered children, handed out roses to representatives who helped kill the bill.

That colleague, a Rochester Democrat, is still in office, serving her 16th term. She sits on the Judiciary Committee, where she recently voted to recommend killing an effort to repeal buffer zones that limit peaceful activity near abortion facilities.

In 2000, Phyllis was devastated to see fellow representatives celebrating like that. If they had spiked a football right there on the House floor they couldn’t have been more contemptuous not only of the bill but of its supporters.

That wasn’t the end of the story, of course. It was a bad day. But Phyllis is a woman of resolve and vision.

She was among the sponsors of a 2003 law calling for parental notification for minors seeking abortion. The law was challenged in court, and was eventually repealed. Later, after her time in the House, she encouraged parental notification supporters to try again. In 2011, another parental notification law passed, and it is still in place. Not even a veto by Gov. John Lynch could derail it.

She encouraged partial-birth legislation after she left the House, and she was around to celebrate when the legislature in 2012 overrode yet another Lynch veto and passed a partial-birth ban into law.

Phyllis continues to serve her community in many ways that have nothing to do with politics. She has a heart for her neighbors. I mention her political work only because it illustrates something easy to forget at the State House: opponents are gonna oppose. Sometimes they’ll be rude about it. Be of steadfast heart anyway.

Those roses on the New Hampshire House floor in 2000 were meant to silence and discourage everyone speaking out in defense of life. For Phyllis Woods, that indecorous in-your-face gesture strengthened her resolve.

A reminder of NH’s Safe Haven Law

Phyllis-Woods-1024x768
Phyllis Woods at State House event, Concord (Ellen Kolb photo)

The New Hampshire Knights of Columbus have launched a project to bring higher visibility to New Hampshire’s Safe Haven law, which permits the parent of a newborn child to surrender the child to anyone on duty at a “safe haven”: a hospital, police or fire station, or a church. Most states have some variation of this statute, differing mainly in the age limit for the child and the places that serve as havens.

New Hampshire’s law was passed in 2003. Ten co-sponsors led by then-Rep. Phyllis Woods of Dover shepherded the law through a 327-45 vote in the House followed by passage on a voice vote in the Senate.

As explained on the Baby Safe Haven web site, an online clearinghouse for information about these laws,

The purpose of Safe Haven is to protect unwanted babies from being hurt or killed because they were abandoned. You may have heard tragic stories of babies left in dumpsters or public toilets. The parents who committed these acts may have been under severe emotional distress. The mothers may have hidden their pregnancies, fearful of what would happen if their families found out. Because they were afraid and had nowhere to turn for help, they abandoned their babies. Abandoning a baby puts the child in extreme danger. Too often, it results in the child’s death. It is also illegal, with severe consequences. But with Safe Haven, this tragedy doesn’t ever have to happen again.

Woods spoke about the law at the recent Knights of Columbus Birth-Right dinner in Allenstown, and later posted to Facebook: “Thirteen years after we passed the Baby Safe Haven law in NH, the State Council of the K of C is taking up the mission of publicizing the law with a spokesperson, radio and TV appearances, and signs in Safe Haven locations. We are excited and deeply grateful for their efforts.”

News of the recent deaths of newborns in Virginia and California underscore the fact that even in states with Safe Haven laws, too many people are unaware of the safe-haven option. Thumbs up to the NH K of C for working to change that.

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