40 Days for Life Spring 2017 Comes to an End

The Equality Center is dark and unoccupied in the late evening, with only a few signs standing sentinel outside: Civility, Compassion, Love. Stop Sidewalk Bullying. Legal Abortion IS Pro-life.  There’s no competition for parking spaces. Traffic is minimal – a startling thing, for someone who knows the city only from the hours when the legislature is in session a few blocks up the road.

In that tranquil midnight setting, with no fanfare and no confrontation, the city’s Spring 2017 40 Days for Life campaign drew to a close.

Students, Knights of Columbus, an Anglican priest, and a few of us with no particular affiliation were among the people joining campaign leader Beth Gaby for an hour of quiet prayer for everyone who goes in and out of the abortion facility, whether clients, workers, or contractors.

Beth brought 40DFL back to a city that had gone without a campaign for awhile. She had some challenges. One local Equality Center abortion supporter took to Facebook regarding 40DFL: “Victory is….intimidating clinic protestors [sic] to the point they get in their car and leave.”

Beth must have known from the vigil schedule which 40DFL participants were the targets of the angry woman. Beth’s response was to join those participants during their next scheduled hour.  One of those participants later brought two more people with her to pray. The moral support was contagious.


A few hours before the Concord vigil, the Greenland, New Hampshire 40DFL team gathered for a closing rally, followed by prayer in front of the Lovering Center. The 40DFL volunteers took advantage of a splendid 70-degree spring day. Campaign leader Jackie McCoy sent an email afterward to supporters, including those who had been unable to attend.

“Thank you to all of you who have prayed, fasted and witnessed to life, from your homes and on the sidewalk. I got to speak with some of you at today’s closing rally, and I am always so impressed, and blessed by your steadfast support of 40 Days for Life, and the compassion you have for the unborn, their mothers, and also for those who oppose you.”

Jackie mentioned encouraging things from the campaign, including friendliness from a Center worker and increased news coverage in local media.

I’ve been a guest speaker at Greenland 40DFL in the past, and I am always touched by the warmth of the local team. Every rally wraps up with a “tailgate party” of sorts, with coffee and snacks, followed by a delivery of treats to the New Generation home across the street.

Until Next Time

The next 40 Days for Life campaign will begin September 27. There’s plenty of time to discern whether it’s your turn to step up to lead a campaign in Manchester, Concord, or Greenland.

In the meantime,  Cathy from the Pray for Life Center in Manchester invites pro-life witnesses to prayer vigils outside Planned Parenthood’s Manchester office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is not a 40 Days for Life campaign, but rather a year-round effort. See the Pray for Life Center’s Facebook page for more information.

See also this list of agencies providing direct, no-cost services to pregnant and parenting women in need of resources. Your support and your presence keep them going.

From the Pray for Life Center: “It’s not nice to litter”

Here’s a little story about cognitive dissonance in the big city.

Cathy of the Pray for Life Center in Manchester, New Hampshire sends out a weekly email about what goes on during her vigils outside the Planned Parenthood office on Thursdays, which are reportedly when surgical abortions are performed on site. (Cathy‘s been at this for awhile, as I noted back in 2013.) In case you’re not a subscriber, I want to share her latest. It caught me off guard.

“The Thursday vigil participants watched as the family of five (six with the unborn baby) went into Planned Parenthood. Before long, the father and three little boys said good-bye to their mother and drove off while she had the abortion. As they left, one of the boys threw an empty soda can onto the street and his father stopped to retrieve it – explaining it’s not nice to litter.”

Not all personal choices are created equal, I guess.

Here’s the link to the full email. Cathy’s message includes an announcement about a September 19 training session for sidewalk counselors. See her email for details.

Potluck Dinner for Manchester’s Pray for Life Center 11/15

Photo from prayforlifecenter.org
Photo from prayforlifecenter.org
[Update August 2015: the Pray for Life Center has closed.]

The Pray for Life Center across the street from Planned Parenthood’s Manchester office is not just a rented space. It’s a non-profit organization, and it relies on community support to stay open. The Center is hosting a potluck dinner on Saturday, November 15 at 5 p.m., with donations accepted for the Center’s ongoing work. Contact Cathy Kelly for more information: prayforlifecenter@gmail.com.

From the Center’s web site:

“The Pray for Life Center, located at 27 Pennacook Street, #1, Manchester, diagonally across from Planned Parenthood, is an IRS approved non-profit 501(c)(3) organization formed in direct response to the witnessing of lost innocent human life by abortion in Manchester. It is organized and operated to promote the sanctity of human life in the public square through prayer, education, and Christian charity to all, in the hope that through God’s endless mercy, hearts will turn toward life and the lives of the unborn will be spared…. PFLC is open all day on Thursdays (the day in which 20-30 lives are lost by surgical abortion at Planned Parenthood). For those who cannot walk in vigil outside Planned Parenthood, you are welcome to pray for the unborn, their parents, and the Planned Parenthood staff in our prayer room chapel.”

Learn more about the Pray for Life Center and the nearby Pennacook Pregnancy Center at www.prayforlifecenter.org.


Books for kids

Our Place is a program for pregnant and parenting teens, serving families in Nashua, Manchester and Rochester. While baby care items and clothing are always welcomed, they’ve put out a special request this month for books suitable for preschoolers. Board books and picture books, new or gently used, may be delivered to the Catholic Charities administration office at 215 Myrtle Street in Manchester.

Leaven for the Loaf readers who want to participate but can’t get to the Catholic Charities office can leave me a message on Leaven’s Facebook page. I can collect books within a limited area and then deliver them to Manchester.


Meet Manchester’s 40DFL coordinator for Fall ’14

A year ago when I attended a 40 Days for Life kickoff in Manchester, New Hampshire, it was standing-room-only at the Pray for Life Center. Already, the leader for the campaign beginning in a few weeks has lined up more spacious accommodations. She knows what to expect.

Jennifer Robidoux (Facebook photo)
Jennifer Robidoux (Facebook photo)

Meet Jen Robidoux, a 40DFL veteran, who’s stepping up to coordinate Manchester’s Fall 2014 campaign.She’s been part of the support crew before, but this is her first time as a team leader. “Only for one campaign, I’ll try it out. If it’s too much, I’ll step back and maybe somebody else can pick it up. I have a team of four other people. One of them has been with me for the last two campaigns, so she knows what to do. The two of us have been making sure everything’s getting all set.” — set, that is, for a kickoff on September 22 followed by the campaign itself running from September 24 to November 2.

Jen is not only a 40DFL coordinator now. She’s also a plaintiff in Reddy v. Foster, challenging New Hampshire’s buffer zone law. Nevertheless, she says, “I’m really a very introverted, shy person. I got roped into [40DFL] by a friend.” From there, she read Abby Johnson’s Unplanned and David Bereit’s 40 Days for Lifeand from them, “I see what a peaceful witness can be like.” All 40 Days for Life campaigns are resolutely peaceful in all three components: prayer and fasting, community outreach, and the most visible element, prayerful vigil outside abortion facilities.

She’s been praying at the Manchester Planned Parenthood facility on Penacook Street for several campaigns now. Jen knows It’s the epicenter of the buffer zone battle. “I wanted to do it there. That’s one of the reasons they wanted to put the buffer zone in – because of 40 Days and the Pray for Life Center. We’ve got to keep up the pressure there.

Jennifer at a recent pro-life event in Concord (E. Kolb photo)
Jennifer at a recent pro-life event in Concord (E. Kolb photo)

“If we are to bring an end to abortion we must be peaceful on the sidewalk. In my estimation, peaceful means people smiling, praying, being respectful to anyone who walks by or goes in or out of that clinic. In order to reach them, we must be loving to them. That means showing the same respect for them that we want them to show us.”

The sidewalks are of course open to anyone (for now), including people not affiliated with 40DFL. How about that? “I am going to ask everybody [with 40DFL] to focus on why they’re there. They’re there to pray. The other people there are there to sidewalk counsel, protest, whatever. But we are there as a prayerful witness.” The Manchester 40DFL team is considering using a designated part of the sidewalk outside PP, but that is not finalized at this point.

As a Reddy v. Foster plaintiff, Jennifer knows that everyone on the sidewalk outside PP is under a microscope. “We need to be aware we’re going to be watched. I’ll want to ask if someone can be a videography and photography person at all of our events,” to provide documentation by pro-life witnesses. “I have Michael Tierney a phone call away” – Tierney being an attorney representing the Reddy plaintiffs. “I’ve already asked him to speak at the 40 Days kickoff.”

Jen welcomes new 40DFL participants. She says that she has often prayed alone during her 40DFL vigil hours.  “I have a set time, so I let people know when my time is. If anyone would like to join me, they’re more than welcome.” She intends to make sure Manchester police are aware of the campaign, and she says she’d welcome any police observation of the rallies and vigils.

Having at least one prayer witness outside Manchester PP from seven a.m. to seven p.m., seven days a week is an ambitious goal, but that’s what Jennifer is aiming for with this fall’s campaign. She says that as far as she knows, there will not be a Concord 40DFL this fall, so those who have participated in 40DFL outside the Feminist Health Center are welcome to join Manchester’s effort. She is taking news about 40DFL to faith communities in the area, too. “People [in Manchester] tend to associate 40 Days with the Catholic church, but it’s a non-denominational pro-life organization.”

40 Days logoShe’s occupied with the campaign’s administrative details, but she has a sharp eye on the purpose they serve: reaching abortion-minded women and abortion-industry workers, and standing up for the children at risk of being aborted. “Throughout the whole national movement, I‘ve heard that the national pro-choice movement is dropping the term pro-choice and trying to find other ways to encompass their views. I look at that and say OK, you can try to re-brand yourself. The pro-life movement has done that too. But you’re still doing what you’re doing.”

Getting involved:

Mark your calendars now: 40 Days for Life will run from September 24 to November 2. The opening rally will be a couple of days ahead of time, September 22 (a Monday) at Ste. Marie’s church in Manchester. There will be gatherings at the midpoint and end of the campaign as well; details are pending. New to 40DFL? Catch up on the project’s web site.

Jennifer reports that the 40 Days for Life web site has been revamped since the last campaign. Anyone signing up to participate, even 40DFL veterans, will create a new online account. The vigil calendar for the Fall 2014 campaign is not yet online but will be up shortly. Watch Leaven for the Loaf‘s Facebook page for updates.




Pick of the web 1/3/14: baby shower; good pics; religious liberty up 53-7

With the new year, the New Hampshire legislature re-convenes. The festivities begin next Wednesday, January 8. If you’re not already familiar with the state legislature’s web page, check it out here. You’ll find links to help you contact your representatives and look up hearing dates for bills, among many other things.

Supporters of the Pray for Life Center in Manchester are having a baby shower on January 12 for a young expectant mother named Cassie. Details are on the Pray for Life Center Facebook page.

You might have seen Matthew Lomanno’s black-and-white documentary photography featured in the Diocese of Manchester’s Parable magazine. The New Hampshire photographer has produced a photo essay about the national March for Life that does a great job of capturing the spirit of this annual event.

The Alliance Defense Fund keeps track of court cases filed against the federal Department of Health and Human Services over the HHS mandate (requiring that contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs be included in employer-provided health insurance policies under the president’s health care law). Kathryn Jean Lopez reports here on ADF’s finding that in 2013, 53 court rulings went in favor of the plaintiffs while only 7 went in favor of HHS. There have been no Supreme Court rulings on the mandate yet.

On the same topic, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor surprised a lot of people on New Year’s Eve when she issued a temporary injunction barring the administration from enforcing the birth control requirement against an order of Colorado nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and related groups.