Related stories come to us from Connecticut and California, where “anti-abortion” centers (in the parlance of the Hartford Courant) are getting some pushback.

From the Courant, 11/10/17:

The city is looking to crack down on faith-driven crisis pregnancy centers, which critics say sometimes pose as clinics to lure women and hand out misleading information about abortions.

Under a measure headed for the city council, the so-called anti-abortion centers in Hartford would be required to disclose whether staff members have medical licenses, and would be banned from engaging in false or deceptive advertising practices.

When abortion advocates like NARAL start talking about “deliberate misinformation and lies,” I’m a bit skeptical. Why the sudden concern? Aha: the Hartford Women’s Center, where abortions are neither provided nor promoted, opened up in May just behind an abortion facility. The facility’s supporters find the proximity irksome.

Not content to mutter darn pro-lifers, stay outta my yard, Hartford-area abortion promoters are trying to get themselves an ordinance. But there’s this thing about ordinances: they come with public hearings. Ten days after the Courant article was published, the hearing on the proposed ordinance drew a packed house.  CBS Connecticut reported that pro-life advocates outnumbered NARAL’s allies.

Outcome is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, out on the left coast, a California law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post information (in large font in a “conspicuous place”) about state-funded abortions is headed to the Supreme Court. 

Apparently, business is so lousy at California abortion facilities that the state must compel other facilities to help provide advertising for abortion services.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the California law, which is no surprise, since…well, Ninth Circuit. Similar laws in Maryland and New York have been struck down in other Circuits. With divided conclusions and a First Amendment issue before it, the Supreme Court agreed this month to take the California case.

I have no doubt that abortion facility operators in every state are watching Hartford’s proposed ordinance and California’s law to see what happens.

In my state’s largest city, a pro-life pregnancy help center opened a couple of years ago just around the corner from a Planned Parenthood office. It’s hard to believe that the $23 million PP affiliate might ever feel threatened by the storefront operation that serves pregnant and parenting women with clothing, equipment, and referrals.

Then again, I find it hard to believe that any state actually passed a law like California’s or that any city contemplated an ordinance like the one proposed in Hartford. Eternal vigilance is the price of service, when the service is providing and promoting alternatives to abortion.

 

Subject line: “Tomorrow is a big deal but President Trump doesn’t want you to know about it.” Well, that’s one way to stand out in my email inbox. The sender is my state’s senior U.S. Senator, Jeanne Shaheen, and the message is from her Senate account, not a campaign address.

“…November 1st, through December 15th, you have the opportunity to sign up for a new health insurance plan or change your existing plan through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Despite the many attempts by President Trump and Republican leadership to repeal Obamacare, it remains the law of the land. As you consider your healthcare options, it’s important to note that there have been many changes to available plans. Instead of just signing up for the same plan for 2018, I encourage you to shop around …”

Stop. Just stop. But no, there’s more:

“The Trump administration has been trying to keep Granite Staters in the dark about this important signup period by slashing open enrollment advertising by 90 percent, cutting the open enrollment period in half and defunding support staff that assist with signing up. So, friends, it’s up to each of us to get the word out to family members and friends that the enrollment period is about to get underway.” 

Consider yourself informed. You’re welcome.

As I have expressed at possibly tiresome length since last year’s campaign, I hold no brief for President Trump. Of all the things for me to hold against him, though, trying to keep me in the dark about the administrative details of Obamacare isn’t one of them.

There are things about Obamacare that bother me a lot more than open enrollment advertising being “slashed” by 90 percent – its effect on conscience rights, for one thing; its cost, for another.

I won’t be signing up for insurance on the “Affordable” Care Act’s exchange today, or tomorrow, or anytime before December 15. It isn’t affordable. Instead, I’ll be checking with my healthshare plan, Solidarity HealthShare, to see if there’s going to be any adjustment in my monthly fee, which I can afford.

I’m supposed to be upset about how Trump’s handling Obamacare?

My state’s senior Senator is right about this much: Obamacare is still the law of the land. It will remain so, I fear, until federal legislators like her are forced to go on their home states’ insurance exchanges to find health care coverage. I can visualize my senator getting a breezy campaign-style email assuring her “you have the opportunity to sign up!”

She might even be as enthusiastic as I am.

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist living in New Hampshire. She blogs at ellenkolb.com and Leaven for the Loaf. 

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A 17-year old with no visible means of financial support got an abortion this morning.

Not news, you say? Look again.

“Jane Doe” is an immigrant, an unaccompanied 17-year-old, living in the U.S. without benefit of documentation. When Jane Doe learned she was pregnant, she sought an abortion in Texas, where she is living. Disputes broke out, state and federal courts weighed in, and somewhere along the way Jane Doe was assigned a guardian to protect her interests.

The guardian enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, which jubilantly reported today that the abortion has been committed. “Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe,” went the ACLU tweet, one among many celebrating the death of a child’s child. #JusticeforJane, says the hashtag.

I suspect Jane Doe’s anonymity will dissolve when she turns 18, if not earlier, as she becomes a poster child for abortion advocates. Killing her child was worth a legal battle, to some people – more so than trying to regularize her residency status, apparently.

That’s a hellish way to become a celebrity. Whatever her immigration status, she deserves better than that.

Our country deserves better than to be thought of as an abortion haven, too.

I assume that as an immigrant without documentation, whose home is a U.S. detention center, she didn’t have money. Who paid to have her child killed? Was it you and me?

Human dignity lost today – the mother’s, the dead child’s, the abortionist’s, the abortion apologists’.

There’s surely a great deal about this 17-year-old that I don’t know. Why did she leave her homeland? Was she sent by her family, or did she decide on her own to cross the border? Was she pregnant when she got here? Did she become pregnant due to assault, and if so, is there as intense an effort to apprehend the perpetrator as there was to abort her child?

Whatever the answers, great things may yet lie ahead for her; better days, better choices.

Today isn’t a good day for her, no matter what her enablers are saying. Her child is dead, and abortion apologists are dancing on the remains. God have mercy on us all.

Alexandra DeSanctis said it better than I. “This is perhaps the most despicable thing about this entire ordeal — that justice in our modern world demands the blood of an innocent child. We have reached the point in the abortion debate where it is not only socially acceptable to crusade for the intentional killing of one specific unborn child, but where we are expected to applaud when that execution is carried out. How utterly shameful.”

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist living in New Hampshire. She blogs at ellenkolb.com and Leaven for the Loaf, and she welcomes reader support.

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The just-concluded Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C. was punctuated by standing ovations. Among them: a few for the President, who spoke decisively but without pugnacity; for Bannon and Gorka, the red-meat guys; for Alveda King, bringing the crowd to its feet to join her in song.

And then there was the one for Steve Scalise.

Months after a gunman’s savage and politically-motivated attack left him near death, Congressman Scalise made his way to the Values Voter podium last Friday to the sound of appreciative cheers. He moved with the aid of crutches, the only visible sign of his injuries. Once at the podium, he spoke in the strong and steady voice of a man eager to get to work.

As House Majority Whip, he has the unenviable task of herding the GOP cats when it’s time for votes on the House floor. HIs position is probably what earned him an invitation to speak at Values Voter. He understands first things first, though. Before he spoke about policy, he spoke about gratitude.

After he was shot, while he was in the hospital, he and his family received countless prayers and good wishes, including messages from people who are not in political harmony with him. That touched him deeply. He understood that the messages were not merely routine.

“You knew that this was an attack on the values of our country….I cannot thank you enough for those prayers and that love.” This from a man who spent three and a half months in a hospital.

He was candid in his speech about the tough times past and to come, as he and his family face long-term challenges arising from his injuries. His candor made his enthusiastic demeanor all the more meaningful. “We have a great and mighty God,” he declared, “and I am a living example of the miracles he can produce.”

Then, and only then, he addressed specific policy initiatives. He said, “I came back with an even sharper focus” on family, friends and America.

He Considers the Pain-Capable Act a victory. That’s the measure to restrict abortions after 20 weeks, the point in pregnancy when science indicates that unborn children can feel pain. Passage of the measure was a near thing. “As Majority Whip, I had to put that coalition together. But we did.” Now, the bill is in the Senate, its prospects uncertain in view of the particular batch of Republicans now serving. “Tell your Senators to pass it,” Scales urged. The President “wants to sign this bill into law.”

The bill includes cutting federal funding to the nations’s largest abortion provider. That gives me pause, as voter who questioned (and still questions) the depth of the President’s roots on the life issues. Scalise has no doubts. “He wants to sign this.”

He’s determined to support the President’s tax reform proposals. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone give a snappier summary and smile while doing it: reduce personal rates; reduce business rates to encourage families to bring jobs back to this country; repeal the death tax, double the child tax credit (now there’s a pro-life initiative).

He did not dwell on the unhappy fate thus far of efforts to repeal Obamacare, beyond saying “let’s not give up fights. President Trump wants these on his desk.”

All this was said in a tone that most other speakers at Values Voters didn’t approach. He was passionate and determined without breathing fire. He didn’t sound as though we were all under siege; in fact he radiated hope, both political and personal.

HIs final words to the crowd, coming after all he has experienced these past months, rang with truth that brought the audience to its feet yet again: “It’s great to be alive.”

Ellen is a New Hampshire writer and pro-life activist. Read more by and about her at ellenkolb.com.

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The grind-it-out side of public policy occupied me this morning, as I went to the State House to listen to a subcommittee patiently work out the language of a bill. That done, I walked outside to see what was up on the State House plaza.

And my day was made.

A collection was underway for the Red Cross, with an eye to the disaster in Puerto Rico. Pallet upon pallet of water awaited loading onto trucks. Other types of donations were being sorted, labeled, and packaged. One large “check” was on display, indicating a substantial cash donation by one of the state’s larger utilities. Kids coming off school buses for their State House tour carried armloads of things to donate to the effort.

State employees, elected officials, just plain folks, those wonderful fourth-graders: everyone on the plaza was on the same page. This was a relief effort in every sense.

The Governor was on the scene, delighting the schoolkids with a photo op, and someone said to him, “Will any of this actually get where it’s supposed to go?” He said reassuring things. I hope he’s right. Distribution: that’s the sticking point. How will this get to Puerto Rico? How will the Red Cross allocate things among the multiple disasters it’s addressing these days? I wish I knew the answers.

The people on the plaza weren’t being paralyzed by discouragement or uncertainty over what comes next. They were doing their best with what they had. They left me inspired, refreshed, challenged. That was a fine midday course correction.

Ellen is a New Hampshire pro-life activist and writer who blogs at ellenkolb.com

It’s “Banned Books Week.” Pardon my groan. I rant about this every year. No end in sight, alas.

The folks behind Banned Books Week – a coalition of the American Library Association and allied groups – lost all credibility with me years ago when they conflated “banned” and “challenged,” especially when the challenge is to the use of a book in a curriculum. Get a clue: the challengers aren’t “banning” a book any more than the people who chose the book for the curriculum in the first place were “banning” alternatives.

In this country, you know what to do when a book is “challenged” and removed in school, and you think that’s a bad idea? READ IT YOURSELF. Read it to your kids. Write a review. Milk social media for all it’s worth. Give away copies on the steps of your local school. 

Quit complaining that other people are making choices for you. Make your own choices.

Yes, kids have a right to read. They also have a right to know that questioning authority – specifically the authority to choose curriculum resources – does not amount to “censorship.”

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist living in New Hampshire. Read more from her at ellenkolb.com/blog and leavenfortheloaf.com.

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Y’know what’s worse than being in the path of a hurricane? Having loved ones in the path, when you’re far away and can’t do a whole lot to help. I’m with Fausta, in that my mind is elsewhere right now.

Of course, it’s altogether possible that Irma will come up the coast and visit my neighborhood after she’s done with Florida. It’s a sign of the times that the thought of being assailed by Irma is easier to grasp than the thought of an ineffectual GOP majority in Washington.

So, hurricane thoughts:

Be prepared, just like they taught us in Scouts. If it’s not a hurricane now, it’ll be an ice storm in December or a blizzard next March. Don’t be That Person going after the last water, bread and milk at the grocery store. (Because I am likely to be That Person, and I hate competition.)

Storm-chasers are a special breed, and I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a good thing. Neighbors of mine are indulging themselves by heading south to observe Irma, up close and personal. Part of me is looking forward to their reports, which are sure to be fascinating – and part of me is thinking “y’all are plumb crazy.”

If you haven’t seen this one, join me in a toast to the Delta crew that flew a 737 to San Juan as Irma bore down – and then out, the last plane to leave before air traffic control closed up shop for the duration.

Finally, let’s spare a thought for everyone caught up in the western fires. That part of the USA could use the rain that those of us to the east and south are enduring. I’m off to Washington state shortly, and I’ve been warned to expect ash on everything the way we New Englanders get springtime pollen.

May you and yours be safe in the face of storms of all kinds.

Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist living in New Hampshire. Read more of her work at EllenKolb.com/blog.

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I heard anecdotes about a man with a pro-life sign being assailed during the recent Boston demonstration/counterdemonstration, and then found that an Esquire writer tweeted a short video of the incident.    (Language alert.)

The guy was carrying a poster with photos of preborn human beings on the upper half of the poster, visible in the video. (I should add that these were not bloody-baby pictures. If there were any photos of aborted remains on the lower part of the poster, I didn’t see them due to the camera angle.) He was pursued – or as the Esquire writer put it, “made to part ways with his sign” – by masked assailants, who tore the photos off the poster one by one. Among the screaming voices was a woman’s, saying something that sounded like “I chose to have my baby but I’m glad I had a choice!”

At least that particular woman had the integrity to speak her mind without hiding behind a mask and without vandalizing anything.

In Pete’s coverage of the recent Boston demonstration/counterdemonstration,   he noted that the unifying factor among the disparate “counter” groups was anti-Trump sentiment to a greater or lesser degree. I don’t dispute that. I think that sentiment was accompanied by more than a dash of abortion advocacy, of a kind that was around long before Trump and will sadly be around long after he moves on.

I have no idea who the man with the poster supported for President; perhaps like me he’s at risk of being hashtagged #NeverTrump. Those masked hooligans who vandalized his sign didn’t care. The evidently harbored antipathy to the right to life and to anyone promoting it. Trump didn’t even need to be a factor for them.

That was one incident, involving relatively few people, in a place where tens of thousands of people had congregated for various purposes. Maybe the masked vandals who tore up photos of the preborn humans weren’t representative of the larger crowd. Then again, maybe they were.

Mayor and President alike tweeted approval of the day’s peaceful demonstrators speaking out against hate. It was a day for broad strokes, not fine details, so maybe incidents like the one I’ve described escaped the politicians’ notice.

But is it something other than hate when masked people carrying sticks menace a man holding a poster? Is it peaceful to rip up a sign someone’s holding, as long as no one sustains physical injury?  I’m pretty sure that if I, as a pro-lifer, were to tear up a sign held by someone, I’d be charged with simple assault under the laws of my state. (Rightly so, I might add.) Maybe the Boston police had to pick their battles, so to speak, and sign-ripping wasn’t a law enforcement priority the day of a mass rally. Understandable, from a tactical point of view. But I believe the Boston sign vandals got a pass that wouldn’t have been afforded to anyone tearing up a pro-abortion sign.

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Ellen Kolb is a writer and pro-life activist living in New Hampshire. Read more of her work at EllenKolb.com/blog.

I’m rambling a bit here, but all these disjointed thoughts about some life issues seem to be drifting together.

There’s nothing new under the sun, says the book of Ecclesiastes. What’s strange to me is old news to someone in a different place or situation.

I’m thinking in particular of two women from Canada whom I recently met, and of the parents of Charlie Gard, whose story you may already know (see Pete’s reflection on Charlie’s death).

Charlie Gard is at rest now, and his parents in their grief are at least spared further attention from the European Commission on Human Rights, which denied them custody of their critically-ill son. When they started seeking treatment for their baby – AND raising money for it, so the National Health Service in their country (Britain) couldn’t plead lack of resources – I’m sure they were shocked to find out that a hospital could deny them custody. The “experts” knew better. The “experts” were going to ration care, since the parents wouldn’t ration it themselves.

It can’t happen here, I thought. We don’t have a single-payer system for health care (at least not yet). I ventured to say as much to a few people. Two of them gave me a where-have-you-been look and reminded me about Justina Pelletier. Shame on me for needing to be reminded.

Nothing new.

The Canadian women I mentioned were attending a pro-life conference with me, and we chatted over coffee as we waited for the day’s work to begin. They told me about their province where a “bubble zone” law is in effect and where doctors who don’t do abortions are obliged to refer abortion-minded patients to more accommodating providers.

I was surprised at what they said, until I reflected that my own state has a buffer zone law, although no abortion provider will use it for fear of litigation which will result in the law being thrown out. (Our law is modeled on the one the Supreme Court threw out in the McCullen case from Massachusetts.) Likewise, conscience protections for health care providers have been defeated again and again in my state legislature, although so far no statute requires abortion referrals.

Nothing new. The details are different between my state and their province, but the issues are the same.

My Canadian companions weren’t complaining, though. They spoke in matter-of-fact tones, without hand-wringing. They go out to witness near abortion facilities anyway. They support physicians and other providers whose conscience rights are at risk. They refuse to shrug and go home, thinking “game over.”

What a witness they were to me, in their quiet way.

For that matter, there was no “game over” for women at that pro-life conference who spoke about “adverse prenatal diagnosis.” Those moms we listened to were all told during pregnancy that they had defective babies. The language varied, but the message was the same. All were told they could abort. All said no (and I’m sure a few said “hell, no”).

The outcomes: some of the children died in infancy – but they died in the arms of their parents, not in the custody of the state. Other children were born and, lo and behold, had none of the maladies that had been diagnosed or predicted prenatally by the “experts.” Still others were born with complex conditions that proved manageable and treatable.

Among the lessons: doctors don’t know everything. Nothing new there.

That brings me back to the family of Charlie Gard. I’m sure that neither of his parents woke up one day and said, “Gee, I think I’ll be pro-life today!” They weren’t pursuing a cause. They were defending their son. They weren’t denying the reality of their son’s condition, but they defended their own right to be parents and Charlie’s rights as well, first to receive treatment and then to die in their loving arms.

One unexpected situation at a time, one appalling governmental policy at a time, all the people I’m thinking about refused to say game over. The family of Charlie Gard, the Canadian women who refused to be discouraged, the mothers who were told their kids were hopelessly imperfect: I have things to learn from each of them.

And that’s nothing new.

When does independence in a politician become inconsistency? Does it matter? An election held near my town this week says it does – and that inconsistency sometimes just doesn’t pay.

The race was for a state senate seat. The candidates were two experienced politicians – one an alderman in the state’s largest city, the other a former state senator trying to reclaim his old seat. The district sprawls over a Democrat-leaning large city and several GOP-leaning towns. In the previous two elections, the district alternated between Republican and Democratic winners. In short, the usual indicators showed no hard advantage for either of this week’s candidates.

The Democrat won, and it wasn’t close. “A stunning repudiation of the Trump-[state governor] agenda,” crowed the state Democratic director, in a statement that was probably drafted on election night 2016 and kept in a drawer for a day like yesterday.

Nice try at grabbing the credit, but neither the President nor the Governor had a thing to do with it. Consistency, and neighbors who respected it, made the difference.

The Democrat is a down-the-line party man. Local voters who agreed with him on issues had every reason to come out and vote.  Apparently, some voters who disagreed with him didn’t find a compelling alternative on the one-race ballot.

The Republican, a nice enough guy with a positive voting record in many respects, was nevertheless inconsistent. Sometimes he voted along party lines, sometimes he didn’t, and sometimes he see-sawed on a topic.

  • The state party is pro-right-to-work and anti-casino (the latter, mostly because of the effect a casino would have on local small businesses in the hospitality and lodging industries). This week’s candidate was the opposite.
  • The candidate supported Medicaid expansion when it came up for a vote a couple of years ago, despite uncertainty in how to fund it – effectively making a promise to indigent residents without having the resources to back it up.
  • The party, on paper anyway, is pro-life; the candidate had been on the prevailing side five years ago when the state senate rejected an informed-consent-for-abortion measure on a 12-11 vote. Even so, he had pro-life votes as well over the years, including a splendid series of votes against anti-First-Amendment zones outside abortion facilities.

Call it independence or call it inconsistency, but it didn’t work out for him this week, even though he may be a nice guy and an experienced public servant. In a special election, with nothing else on the ballot, too many people couldn’t get excited enough over his mixed record to get to the polls.

I overheard a conversation this morning between a state GOP official and a GOP state representative. The party official detailed the things the party had done in the state senate race: door knocking, phone calls, ads, poll standers, the whole routine. The state rep then gently broke the news to her: it wasn’t the party that lost the election. It was the candidate. “That Medicaid expansion vote killed him.” And that was a friend of the candidate talking.

Independence of mind and spirit and conscience – that’s one thing. Throwing on a party’s mantle and expecting it to cover a multitude of inconsistencies – that’s another. When there’s only one race on the ballot, a candidate’s record looms large.

Here I’ll quote Skip Murphy of Granite Grok, a friend of DTG, who has been known to preach this particular message with a revivalist’s fervor: consistency breeds trust yields votes. 

Inconsistency breeds special election result like yesterday’s.

Ellen Kolb blogs about New Hampshire life-issue policy at Leaven for the Loaf and looks farther afield in ellenkolb.com