The movement is broad: meet secularprolife.org

In the course of writing about the life issues, I’ve communicated with a lot of people I’ve never met in person. Some of us are online pen pals, basically. I just got a little present from one of them.

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bumper stickers from secularprolife.org

How’s that for a gesture of good will? I love it.

I believe in God. My correspondent doesn’t. We have in common the knowledge that a preborn human being is nothing less than … well, human.

If you’d like more information about Secular Pro-life, go to www.secularprolife.org. Look for their banner at the national March for Life, too.

Report from Maine: Portland City Council votes to “zone out” prolifers

According to the Twitter feed of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (@ppnne), the Portland City Council voted unanimously this evening to impose what PP calls a “patient safety zone” outside abortion facilities.

Also known as buffer zones, such ordinances typically impose a perimeter around abortion facilities to keep peaceful pro-life prayer witnesses at a distance.

The sketchy report provided by the tweets indicates that abortion advocates were well-represented at the meeting, which included public testimony. The Council meeting was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.; testimony reportedly ended shortly after 10; the Council vote was concluded by 10:25.

The Councilors added an “emergency” provision that makes the ordinance effective immediately.

The United States Supreme Court will rule within the next few months on the constitutionality of Massachusetts’s buffer zone law. The Concord, New Hampshire city council recently took a wait-and-see attitude to a petition for a zone around “reproductive health facilities” in that city.

Respect for life goes without saying – or does it? Red State 2013, day 2

After spending two days amid Republicans and conservative independents at Red State Gathering in 2013 in New Orleans, I can report on my reality check. Either everyone there was so pro-life that it didn’t bear mentioning, or else everyone there was so taken with urgent matters like Obamacare and IRS overreach that the right to life is out at the edge of the political radar screen. Take that for what it’s worth. This was not a life-themed event, and one reason I came was to hear what candidates said when they weren’t prompted to make a generic me-too pro-life statement.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas (photo by Ellen Kolb)

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas (photo by Ellen Kolb)

Halfway through Day 2 at Red State, Texas Governor Rick Perry got his half-hour at the mic. He only took about 15 minutes for his statement, leaving the rest for Q&A. He crammed a lot into those fifteen minutes: a pitch for businesses to come to Texas, a review of the state’s economic growth on his watch, a verbal shot at “an Administration that’s aimless abroad and arrogant at home,” and – oh, happy day – a defense of the right to life. Calling the unborn “our most vulnerable citizens,” he said “We protect life in the state of Texas.” He’s proud of the new law restricting post-20-week abortions and requiring higher safety standards for abortion facilities.

About time, I thought. Once Friday’s opening prayer was out of the way, neither abortion-minded women nor their children made it into the speeches until Governor Perry got up to the podium.

A few candidates from around the country who spoke after Gov. Perry also mentioned the right to life. Watch these names as you browse the news during election season next year: Art Halvorson, candidate for Congress from Pennsylvania; Rob Maness, candidate for Senate from Louisiana (now there’s a red-meat conservative); Greg Brannon, candidate for Senate from North Carolina. They’re all Republicans. Red State means to keep Republicans honest. That’s apparently enough of a job without trying to convert Democrats on the life issues or anything else.

What got the most attention from speakers and attendees alike? The problems with Obamacare, which certainly have pro-life implications … the IRS scandal, not a phony one whatever Jay Carney may be telling me, that leaves me wondering how little I have to do to attract inappropriate attention from a taxing authority … government spending and the next debt ceiling vote … immigration and border security.

All those matters are urgent, to be sure. I worry, though, about how many important matters will be crowded out of political debate because they lack that urgency. Roe has been with us for forty years. Abortion is more or less legal in all 50 states, and every regulation that passes, no matter how minor, brings forth screams from abortion advocates. Even Gosnell’s horrors have already faded from the front pages, replaced by profiles of the woman in pink sneakers who put her abortion advocacy right out there when she tried to filibuster to death Texas’s 20-week bill. Where legal and unrestricted abortion is part of the fabric of the contemporary Democratic party, the issue of abortion is more like white noise within today’s Republican party. Those who want to ignore it, do so.

Imagine pro-life Republicans being attacked, and maybe losing office, because of their stands on the “urgent” stuff. This will be in primaries, mind you. It’s going to happen in 2014 and 2016 without strong pushback from pro-life voters of all political persuasions.

So does being pro-life go without saying among Republicans? No. Do independents care? This one sure does.

Abby Johnson: “what do I deserve?”

Reblogging other people’s posts twice in a week is something I try to avoid. What Abby Johnson writes at the link below, however, dovetails nicely with Catherine Adair’s post that I reblogged a couple of days ago. Calls to compassion are worth repeating. So are first-person accounts by pro-life activists who used to work at abortion facilities. If you’re not familiar with Abby, this post is a good introduction.

http://www.abbyjohnson.org/tell-me-what-do-i-deserve/

NH Reps, what does Ohio know that we don’t?

This week’s news includes the story of three women and one child in Cleveland, Ohio, liberated from years of captivity and abuse at the hands of a kidnapper.  Among the charges likely to be filed against the kidnapping suspect, Ariel Castro, is “aggravated murder.” He allegedly raped the women, and one has told police that when she became pregnant, he beat and starved her until she miscarried. Unlawfully terminating a woman’s pregnancy against her will, “with prior calculation and design,” is aggravated murder in Ohio.

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/09/18145259-prosecutor-will-seek-murder-charges-for-terminated-pregnancies-in-kidnap-case

What would New Hampshire call that act? Assault on the mother, certainly, but prosecutors would have no tools for filing charges for the death of the preborn child. Eleven months ago, the House failed to override John Lynch’s veto of a fetal homicide bill.

In view of the news from Ohio, New Hampshire legislators ought to lay the groundwork for another try at fetal homicide legislation.

 

NH Pro-Roe Resolution Is Full of Contradictions

Eight New Hampshire state representatives will come before the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs committee next Thursday to make their case for HR 6, a resolution marking the 40th anniversary of Roe. v. Wade.  Are sponsors trying to commemorate the real Roe v. Wade or an imaginary one?

My advice to the courageous state representatives who will fight against this one: expose the contradictions. Your colleagues who are sponsoring this resolution have some explaining to do.

There’s what Roe says, and there’s what its partisans want it to say. Roe and the Supreme Court decisions based on it allow for informed consent laws, parental involvement for minors seeking abortion, regulation of late-term abortion, and a ban on partial-birth abortion. The sponsors of HR 6 have at one time or another come down against these measures, while claiming to support Roe.

Ironically, at nearly the same time as the hearing on HR 6, there will be a hearing down the hall on a bill for informed consent for women seeking abortion. Courts have ruled over and over again that carefully drafted informed consent statutes are constitutional. Yet the same reps who are sponsoring HR 6 will be scurrying down to the Judiciary committee a few minutes later to complain that informed consent is a thinly-veiled attempt to repeal Roe.

The resolution has three references to “safe and legal” abortion. New Hampshire requires no documentation that abortion is safe. The division of public health collects no reports of complications. I’ve heard a doctor tearfully testify in Concord to the horror of treating women years ago who were bleeding to death due to botched illegal abortions. He made no mention of botched legal ones. No one can say with certainty that those aren’t happening. As long as public health authorities decline to require meaningful data from abortion providers, lawmakers can pretend that women are safe. I don’t trust my health to that kind of wishful thinking.

Roe permits statistical collection, by the way. You won’t hear that from the sponsors of HR 6.

One of the resolution’s introductory statements is  “violence against health care providers and restrictions on access to abortion endanger the lives of women and families and have continued to erode access to abortion.” Wow. Equating violence against abortion workers with legal regulation of abortion, right in the same sentence. Will a majority of the NH House go along with that?

And then there’s this statement from the resolution: “The 2012 elections sent a powerful and unmistakable message to federal and state elected officials all around the country that women do not want politicians to interfere in their personal medical decisions.” That’s revisionist history at best. To be charitable, though, I’ll take that provision of the resolution at face value. Does this mean that the sponsors are equally indignant about a politician-imposed health care plan, the “Affordable Care Act,” that forces Americans to subsidize medications and medical procedures to which they have religious objections?

Error knows no party, and this is a bipartisan resolution. With two Republicans and at least one Catholic among the sponsors, I have no doubt that Thursday’s hearing will feature claims that HR 6 reflects mainstream “moderate” thinking. Remember that such phony moderation has kept abortion providers in New Hampshire free from public-health scrutiny.

Remember as well, even though this will hardly prove persuasive to the sponsors, that such “moderation” rests on pitting pregnant women against their children. That is no way to develop constructive public policy.

This resolution is a celebration, not mere commemoration. One last piece of advice to representatives: make sure there’s a roll call.

 

Memo to the President: Mandate 2.0 is still a failure

Dear President Obama,

I see that your Administration has just issued new rules in an attempt to appease me and all the other Americans who have concerns about your mandatory-contraception coverage. The formal fact sheet describing these rules says that you are accepting feedback through April 5. Perhaps something new will come up within the next two months, but I already have plenty of “feedback” for your consideration.

Your HHS Mandate, so called because the Department of Health and Human Services is implementing your “Patient Protection and Affordable Care” Act, rested on your conclusion that it was a matter of public health for women to be rendered chemically or surgically sterile for most of their reproductive years. This was so important to you, in fact, that you approved calling such practices “preventive” and making them available with no co-pay.

You cited advisors at the “Institute of Medicine” who concluded that it is much cheaper for women to be chemically altered than to have babies. Sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs made it into the Mandate as well. No corresponding concern for the cost savings attendant upon male contraception and sterilization made it into your guidelines for “preventive” services.

So, here’s my first concern as I contemplate your new rules: Your contempt for my religion still permeates your health care plan. It is a matter of deep religious belief for me that fertility is a gift, to be regulated by means consistent with human dignity, and at no point considered to be a public health problem. And if you call contraception “preventive,” then you are calling fertility a problem.

Second concern: Women aren’t broken and they don’t need fixing. If only you hadn’t called contraception for women a “preventive” service, we wouldn’t need to have this conversation. How ironic that an Administration that has claimed “being a woman shouldn’t be a pre-existing condition” has codified precisely the opposite.

Since contraception is a direct violation of Catholic teaching, the Mandate hit home for all the Catholic bishops in the United States. They spoke out with one voice. This is no small matter, since many people depend on Catholic churches and schools for employment and insurance coverage. Soon after the bishops cast a glaring light on the religious-liberty violation inherent in the Mandate, representatives of other faiths spoke up with the same concerns.

It took you several months, but your Administration started carving out exemptions. At first, your Mandate restricted the definition of exempt religious institutions to those that primarily serve people of that particular faith. Hospitals and schools that didn’t screen users for religious conformity didn’t count. You were quite justly criticized for attempting to tell the American people what a “religious institution” looked like.

Today’s new regulations appear to address that, sorta kinda. Instead of one executive agency (HHS) deciding what’s religious, you are turning the matter over to another executive agency, the IRS, that has been making that determination for years. The new regs also exempt non-profit religious organizations that meet four criteria, or jump through four hoops, to the satisfaction of whatever agency is going to implement this whole policy. Seldom do the American people have cause to be glad the IRS is going to define religion, but at least by bringing the tax people into it, you are making an effort at consistency.

But what about individuals? What about groups that do not hold themselves out to be “religious” but are nonetheless animated by a respect for life that makes the Mandate abhorrent to them? What about a business owner – someone who owns a hobby store, as an example – who has religious objections to providing contraception and abortion-inducing drugs by way of employee health insurance?

Third concern: Individuals have religious liberty AND conscience protection under our Constitution, and those protections are not forfeited when individuals form groups or run businesses. 

Mr. President, maybe your own conscience dictates that contracepted women are good for public health, quite apart from what the Institute of Medicine tells you. Even so, your Mandate fails as valid public policy. Today’s rules might render moot some of the court challenges to the Mandate, but not all. It appears that your Administration will have to defend the proposition that in the name of public health, the First Amendment does not apply to individuals. That’s a tall order.

You could have avoided all this simply by declining to classify women’s induced infertility as a “preventive service.” You could have left alone the co-payments for contraception. Since you acted as you did, and since you are sticking to that, there is no way I can support the Mandate. I will do everything in my power to support legal efforts to overturn it.

With all due respect,

Ellen Kolb