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

In the wake of the U.S. Senate’s non-vote on repealing Obamacare, one of the better memes now circulating features a gallery of chattering Senators, adorned with the legend (I’m paraphrasing) “Stuff like this is why Trump won.”

Yup. That, and the fact that he’s not Hillary Clinton.

Was his election a one-term holding action, or was it a political watershed? Will he leave behind anything but memories of his tweets? Six months after the election, I still can’t tell. At least he’s not Clinton – but that’s a low bar to clear.

There have been pluses. President Trump has seen at least one project through from beginning to end: the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who may yet prove to be a worthy successor to the late Justice Scalia.  Trump has acknowledged Obamacare’s attacks on religious liberty, publicly announcing that the Little Sisters of the Poor could stop worrying about the government trying to coerce them into getting involved in the contraception business. (He stopped short of blocking enforcement of the odious contraceptive mandate altogether.) In a recent speech in Warsaw, he unambiguously affirmed NATO’s Article Five to an audience that wasn’t quite sure he’d do that.

Those are encouraging moves, as far as they go.

What I haven’t seen in the past six months – to pick just one item – is progress on the Obamacare mess.  The Senate, with its non-vote on Obamacare repeal, has just handed Trump a golden opportunity to set his mark on substantive policy. If he settles for the we’re-just-going-to-let-it-fail line, he’ll squander his chance.

If Donald Trump wants to repeal Obamacare as badly as Barack Obama wanted to impose it, he’ll go back to the voters, face to face, to make the case for repeal.

Not tweets. Not press conferences. Not surrogates. The situation calls for Trump himself, barnstorming, addressing voters in person, encouraging focused action. He demonstrated last year as a candidate that he knows the drill.

He – and we – have nothing to lose from such an effort, given the unbelievable failure of the GOP legislative majority to act.

About the first six months of Trump presidential tweets: where some see pugnacity in the more abrasive posts, I see contempt. (Tomato, tomahto.) I also see fodder for a hundred Democratic Congressional campaign ads. And I see zero chance that the President will moderate his tone. He would probably remind me that he wasn’t elected to be moderate.

I’m inspired by the Independence Day posts from Juliette & Christopher of DTG’s Magnificent crew. Each celebrated a beauty not to be found in the political world I often choose to inhabit.

In the same vein, I offer an unapologetic plug for a friend’s project, inviting all New Hampshire-area DTG readers to attend something special.

Come to hear Massenet’s oratorio “Marie-Magdaleine” on July 22. One performance will be at 2 p.m. at Northeast Catholic College in Warner, and the other will be at Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge at 7 p.m. The performance at the College is donations-accepted, while the one at Cathedral of the Pines has (I think) a $10 admission fee. Call 603-781-5695 for more information.

I’ll be going out of my way to hear one of these performances. Why?

Sheer beauty. With the first note, I know workaday concerns will fall away for awhile. The next deadline, the next gosh-forsaken tweet, the next bill to pay: all will be in abeyance for an hour or two as I undergo the attitude adjustment that’s one of music’s little gifts.

Hope. For my husband and me, Northeast Catholic College is a favorite place, dedicated to education in faith and reason. It’s a place of encouragement and challenge and laughter. The world’s a better place because it exists. Likewise with Cathedral of the Pines, which was established by grieving parents in memory of their son, who died in the service of our country during World War II. It was a true act of hope for those parents to experience such terrible loss and then go on to create a place of peace and tranquillity.

Encouragement. I think you’ll find encouragement simply by being in the same room with the producer of these performances. I’m acquainted with her. She’s a pro-life warrior, a conservative woman, an opera singer, and a patron and leader of nonprofit agencies that enrich the community. Oh, and she was formerly a volunteer legislator (which is how we roll in the Granite State). When things look discouraging – and as a legislator and a volunteer activist, she has some experience with bad days – she responds dynamically and positively. No whining.

You go, girl.

If you’re inclined to attend the performance in Warner, be aware that the College is offering Mass (11:30) and a light lunch (12:30) before the 2 p.m. show, with RSVPs requested. (More about that here.)

Let it be known that this is not a paid promotion. I just want to share good news.

The State House and the White House and my work as a writer will all still be there after the show. When I turn back to them, I’ll be refreshed and ready for whatever comes along. Beautiful music, whatever the source, has that effect on me. Maybe on you, too.

I’ll tag this one “culture victories,” not “culture wars.”

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

“It’s important to build community in a culture that wants to silence pro-life women and their beliefs.” — Melissa Ohden.

Challenge accepted.

In a time of handmaids who don’t want to see Planned Parenthood privatized and states that want to gag pro-life documentarians, there’s more pro-life work going on than will ever be documented by trending hashtags. Good to know, when encouragement can seem hard to come by.

I just returned from Orlando and the second annual Pro-Life Women’s Conference. The conference is the brainchild of Abby Johnson, a woman who puts the “active” in activist: former Planned Parenthood manager, now pro-life, and founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry to abortion workers who want to leave the industry.

She and her team gathered a unique array of speakers, sponsors and exhibitors to inform and challenge the women who came from all over the country to attend the conference. People whose work doesn’t get much coverage in conventional media told their stories. Women whose choices aren’t celebrated by today’s “progressives” (sic) were there to encourage other women who may yet face something like an adverse prenatal diagnosis.

This wasn’t a political event, yet it was unmistakably a boost to anyone like me who’s an advocate for pro-life public policy. The atmosphere was dynamic, not defensive. The women I met there were positive without being saccharine. The things they’re doing, quietly and under the radar, are making people’s lives better. St. John Paul II would call it building a culture of life.

And there was some attitude in the room. Call it joyful and defiant determination. Heady stuff.

Here are a few observations and links from the conference, when you’re ready to turn away from everyday headlines for awhile. There’s good news out there.

  • The women who took the stage first had all heard the same thing from doctors during their pregnancies: something’s wrong with your pregnancy; it’s OK to abort. Some of the diagnoses proved to be accurate, others not. These mothers talked about where they found support, and where they didn’t. Some brought their children with them, so we could see what an “adverse diagnosis” looks like: a person, not a concept or a sentence. Lacey Buchanan: “I get the privilege of raising an exception.”
  • And speaking of exceptions and the right to life, I love Rebecca Kiessling. I’d heard her speak before, but she’s absolutely worth hearing again. Hear her, and you’ll never look at rape-and-incest exceptions the same way again. She’s one of those exceptions.
  • Exhibitors included Democrats for Life (yes!), Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians, and Secular Pro-Life. You never know when someone will share your commitment to defending human dignity. Secular Pro-Life can take credit for one of the best stickers in sight: Call Me an Extremist, But I Think Dismemberment is Wrong.
  • Are there pro-life doctors, who won’t do abortions, or refer for them? Yes, and I saw three of them in one place at the conference. Asked if she worked in a hostile environment, one of the physicians answered, “Not since moving to a pro-life practice.” May their number increase. Check out the American Association of Pro-Life OB/GYNs site, just because it’s good to know they’re out there.

I could go on, and I probably will, on other sites. You get the idea, though: dynamic and committed women, without a handmaid in sight. That’s life beyond the hashtags.

Hulu got some free publicity last week when several costumed “handmaids” showed up in the New Hampshire House gallery to protest a fetal homicide bill, which would allow prosecution for acts of violence causing the death of a preborn child.

“Handmaids” in the N.H. House gallery. Photo by Beth Scaer; used with permission, all rights reserved.

The bonneted “handmaids” were inspired by the Hulu original series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel. The story is about “handmaids” used by men for sex and surrogate childbearing in a society where fertility is at a premium. In the story, women are used, sex is coerced, and the government is fine with that: bad situations all around.

So what does The Handmaid’s Tale have to do with a fetal homicide bill?

Following the lead of the ACLU, abortion lobbyists, and perhaps UltraViolet, the bonneted protesters in the House gallery apparently believed that a bill recognizing unborn victims of violence was somehow an attack on women’s rights. New Hampshire’s bill specifies that it would not apply to any decision made by a pregnant woman, including abortion; the protesters nonetheless objected to the bill. The “handmaids” were silent right up to the point when the House passed the bill anyway. That was enough to provoke a handmaid or two to call out “shame!”

I wonder how that “shame” sounded to the man sitting nearby in the gallery whose pregnant daughter had been injured in an auto collision and whose injuries had led to the death of her preborn child, a boy named Griffin. The child was delivered in the aftermath of the crash, but died shortly thereafter. Because his injuries had been sustained in utero, his death could not be considered a homicide under law, regardless of any culpability that the driver may have had for the mother’s injuries. Since then, Griffin’s grandfather has fought for fetal homicide legislation.

In the 2009 Lamy decision, the New Hampshire Supreme Court had to overturn a drunk driver’s homicide conviction. That driver had slammed into a taxi at 100 miles per hour. The taxi driver’s son was delivered by emergency c-section but died two weeks later from injuries sustained in utero as a result of the crash. That was no homicide, ruled the Court, with obvious regret.

The unanimous Lamy decision included this nudge to legislators: “Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.” Now, in 2017, that nudge just might yield a fetal homicide law. Might. Abortion advocates are fiercely lobbying the Governor to veto the bill, in spite of the Governor’s previously-announced support for the measure. They successfully beat back another fetal homicide bill five years ago when a previous Governor cast a veto.

The women whose losses I’ve described sustained serious physical injuries themselves, and prosecutors had the option (which in the Lamy case was exercised) of filing criminal charges against the party responsible for those injuries. The deaths of their children, though, were not crimes under current New Hampshire law. The women’s childbearing choices were thwarted. Their reproductive rights were compromised in deadly ways, and the law could not recognize that.

Apparently, women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term aren’t exercising the kind of reproductive rights the costumed “handmaids” wanted to promote. Go figure.

The main impact of the bonneted protesters was to bring Hulu’s program to the attention of many people in the State House who hadn’t been aware of it. I hope Hulu appreciated the free promotion.

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

My local Sunday paper had an above-the-fold headline the other day: “Obamacare rate could see big spike in NH next year.” This refers only to my state, where an unidentified government official leaked to the press a document projecting an average Obamacare-exchange premium rate increase of 44%.

The headline could easily have said “another spike.” Obamacare-linked price hikes are old news. Still, I’m glad this wound up on the front page. That indicates that at least one assignment editor doesn’t take big increases for granted.

The story said that the document was stamped Confidential and Draft Only and Not for Distribution. I wish I knew who leaked it so I could deliver my personal thanks. I don’t like being surprised during enrollment season. The principal factor in the projected increase, according to the news report (I haven’t read the actual document), is Medicaid expansion. Without that, the projected increase is closer to 17%.

I don’t want my neighbors covered by Medicaid expansion to get sicker or forgo mental health care or substance abuse treatment. What irks me is that anyone in government or media could be surprised or distressed that expansion actually leads to cost increases and distortions in how health care is provided.

I hope no one’s surprised when the resulting premium increases for my non-Medicaid neighbors leads to changes in their behavior, such as dropping insurance altogether.

Last year’s price spike finally pushed me over the edge and out of the market. In the government’s view, I am uninsured, having opted for a healthshare program that Obamacare benignly tolerates. My husband has retained a conventional policy, and we’re keeping records to see how our costs compare over time.

Ideal? No. My costs are pretty much under my control, right up to the time I’m badly injured or develop a serious medical condition. I would then be at the mercy of my fellow sharers and of the bean-counters in my healthcare providers’ offices. Further, I am waiting uneasily for the Obamacare fans to amend the law so that healthshare programs are no longer penalty-free. Frankly, I think that kind of amendment is likely to come much sooner than any Republican health-insurance reform.

Medicaid is permanently expanded. I believe that. So will there be any health insurance “fixes” this year that would head off a 44% average increase in premiums on my state’s exchange next year? I don’t see how, no matter who’s in the White House. I’m pessimistic about the financial aspect of government health insurance because I’ve seen over the past five years that elected officials can’t even get the little things right.

By “little,” I don’t mean unimportant. I’m thinking of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. That’s the government policy that treats being a woman as a pre-existing condition by calling women’s contraceptives “preventive” care. Business owners who offer health insurance to employees, and who have moral objections to coerced involvement in their employees’ birth control decisions, have had to go to court to escape the mandate.

President Trump’s recent religious-liberty order was tightly limited and it did not undo the mandate. The Little Sisters of the Poor will benefit from his order, because he’s taken a personal interest in their case. Dozens of other mandate challengers are still making their way through the courts, with only these words from the President’s order to comfort them along the way: [cabinet departments] “shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.”

In five years, regardless of the party in power, Congress has failed to repeal the mandate. A Republican president has managed only to tell his people to “consider issuing amended regulations.” The Supreme Court has had the chance to throw out the mandate as a religious liberty violation, and it has not done so.

I can’t trust them to fix even one small but critical aspect of health care policy. I sure can’t trust them to fix the whole thing. Bring on the spikes.

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

Four years ago today, a jury was deliberating the fate of Kermit Gosnell. That trial ended with Gosnell serving life in prison for murder and manslaughter.

Today, a GOP-majority Congress, with a GOP president looking on, can’t agree on when or how to prevent taxpayer funds from going to abortion providers.

What does the spine-snipping abortionist have to do with abortion funding? Only this: a member of Congress who remembers Gosnell’s crimes with disgust is unlikely to support sending tax dollars to an abortion industry that fights regulation.  Conversely, a member of Congress who supports tax funding of abortion providers, or who is indifferent to that funding, is someone who has forgotten or ignored the crimes of Kermit Gosnell and his many enablers.

While the Gosnell trial was going on in Pennsylvania, abortion-related legislation was being considered in my own state. I remember a representative of NARAL dismissing Gosnell as an “outlier.” There was no need to tighten up  abortion regulation, said the lobbyist, since there were no Gosnells in our fair state (she said). Representatives of local abortion providers echoed the “outlier” line.

To this day, my state has no limit on when abortions may be performed or who may perform them. There’s no law requiring treatment of infants who survive attempted abortion. There’s no requirement for abortion facilities to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical facilities. There’s no collection of abortion statistics, including statistics on maternal morbidity and mortality, and therefore no way to spot an abortion provider who injures women the way Gosnell did.

Every attempt to pass laws to prevent future Gosnells has been resisted by lobbyists for the abortion industry. And still, there are elected officials belonging to a nominally pro-life party who can’t quite figure out how to keep that industry from picking my pocket. I don’t let state officials off the hook, either; they’re the ones who award state contracts to abortion providers.

I hear the nervous whispers from officeholders who buy the 3% lie: but these agencies do so much good…

Spare me. An agency that lobbies against laws to protect women’s health and safeguard children who survive attempted abortion is not “doing good.”

I understand the nature of budgets and the need for consensus and prudence. This anniversary, though, this reminder of Gosnell, renders me impatient to see an end to public funding of abortion providers.

(While I’m mentioning Gosnell, allow me to recommend the recent book Gosnell: the Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer by Ann McElhinney & Phelim McAleer. It’s not just about Kermit Gosnell. The authors make sure that the people who helped bring him to justice get their due.)

Ellen Kolb writes at EllenKolb.com and blogs about life issues in New Hampshire at Leaven for the Loaf.
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For the most part, I endorse Thomas Carlyle’s description of economics as the dismal science. I have to add the “most part” qualifier after meeting and working with an economist who with her husband – also an economist – has developed the Family Prosperity Index. Measures like gross domestic product have value, but fail in themselves to measure prosperity in all its dimensions. FPI brings together data on fiscal and social well-being.

What is authentic prosperity, in terms of families? Where’s the objective data to evaluate prosperity? How do public policies help or hurt families? Explore the Index for yourself, and see how Dr. Wendy Warcholik and J. Scott Moody demonstrate how economic and social policy affect each other and in turn affect families.

As Mr. Moody told me in a recent interview, “We need to take a longer perspective, not election to election, about problems [affecting families]. That’s something the Family Prosperity Index is trying to do: break that vicious cycle of jumping from election to election with policy, and instead put into place programs that are going to be there long term, that will actually make a difference.”

It was my good fortune to work for Dr. Warcholik a few years ago when she served as executive director of a New Hampshire nonprofit organization. Today, she and Mr. Moody are senior fellows at the American Conservative Union (ACU) Foundation, where they are working on their Family Prosperity Initiative. I met with them at CPAC 2017 to learn more about what they’re doing and to follow up on some recent research they’ve published about the opioid crisis in my home state of New Hampshire.

Q. How did FPI come to be connected with the American Conservative Union?

WW: We met the executive director, Dan Schneider, and that’s how the partnership came about. We’d been working on the idea for the Index for the last five years. We had known Dan for awhile before that. We knew he was very interested and passionate about building out the foundation side of American Conservative Union. He was the first person who really saw the big vision for the Index and its data-driven capability to capture and measure what is truly prosperity.

Q. You look at more data than the typical economic analysis.

WW: We do. We’ve spent most of our career looking at the fiscal side of things, the economic side of the equation for prosperity. Through our many years in the free-market arena, doing the research and looking at different measures of prosperity indices, we really felt it needed to be a broader measure that takes into consideration the entire person. We wanted to go with an economic index with variables that truly measured human choices, not statutory measures. We wanted actual socioeconomic data that show the choices people are making.

Q. Regarding my own state, you titled a 2016 report “New Hampshire’s Suicide and Drug Use/Overdose Crisis.” Why are those two things – suicide and drug use – in the same title?

SM: The strength of the Family Prosperity Index is that it’s grounded in the academic literature. We were going through the literature on drug overdoses, and there’s a growing body of evidence that our medical examiner system is deficient in its ability to discern a drug overdose from a suicide. It’s very important that we understand this linkage. You might be able to effectively tackle drug overdoses through law enforcement and drug treatment facilities. But if we’re talking about a public health situation like suicide, then that is a truly different problem altogether.

Obviously, there’s mental illness [as a factor in some suicides]. We know that treatment, whether it’s for substance abuse or mental health, pays huge dividends down the road, even though they can be very pricey upfront. We need to take a longer perspective, not election to election, about these problems.

Q. Your studies have found a strong linkage between drug use and religion. You point out in your New Hampshire report that we are the third-least religious state, as measured by weekly religious attendance. At the same time, we have a relatively high rate of illicit drug usage.

SM: We want to bring to light [via FPI] all of these linkages that exist within the data or the academic literature, so that policymakers can discuss them in a neutral setting. Data doesn’t take sides. The literature doesn’t take sides. We need to have this discussion to fundamentally solve the opioid drug overdose problem in New Hampshire.

When we held a heroin crisis leadership summit in New Hampshire [in 2016], we purposely included members not just of law enforcement, but of the religious community and other important segments of our state that are all going to play a role in fighting the opioid problem.

From an economic perspective, religion brings to a society or state a much longer-term level of thinking.  [Religious faith] extends your time horizon, and makes you other-people-centered.

WW: From the public policy perspective, there are no silver bullets for solving this issue. That’s part of the point we’re trying to make with the index: you have these complex relationships between these social variables that impact economic outcomes. We’re so focused on the economic side of the equation. Until our public policy leaders turn their heads to the other side of the equation, the policies that we put together aren’t as durable as they could be. 

Q: Are you working in particular states now?

WW: We’re working with Governor LePage in Maine. He’s six years into fighting the heroin and opioid crisis. He’s putting some practices into place with the drug court there. He’s been very active in some of the laws passed to be very hard on drug dealers, as well as laws to open up more beds [for inpatient treatment of substance abuse]. It’s a very slow process. He’s put more money into law enforcement, but he knows that’s not the full answer. We’re working with him to develop an educational campaign about those other factors that are causing people to abuse. We’ll be up there in Maine to do a forum in late April or May. We’re also doing a legislative forum where we’re going to be bringing the FPI to all the legislators and the governor.

###

Note: the complete 2017 Family Prosperity Index, with information from every state, is available for download

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

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President Trump’s State Department has told the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to get along without U.S. financial support. There are people who think this is a bad idea. I’m not one of them. Neither is Reggie Littlejohn.

I met Reggie very briefly a couple of years ago, when we were speakers at a pro-life convention in New Hampshire. My job was to talk about effective use of social media. Reggie’s job was to talk about China’s coercive abortion policy. She got better billing – and deserved it. Her stories were compelling and persuasive.

She became interested in Chinese policy when as an attorney she represented a Chinese woman seeking political asylum in the United States. It was Reggie’s first exposure to the wretched effects of the One-Child Policy: forced abortion, forced sterilization, and gender imbalance as boys are more valued culturally than girls. The revelations changed her life. She later established Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, an international coalition dedicated to fighting forced abortion in China.

Wherever she speaks, she points out the support China’s policies have received from UNFPA. She has called repeatedly for U.S. de-funding of the organization. She released a statement the other day when de-funding was finally announced.

“We are thrilled that the U.S. is no longer funding forced abortion and involuntary sterilization in China.  The blood of Chinese women and babies will no longer be on our hands. My very first press release, in 2009, was entitled ‘You Are Funding Forced Abortions in China.‘ I have consistently advocated for the defunding of UNFPA over the years…

“The UNFPA clearly supports China’s population control program, which they know is coercive. Under China’s One (now Two) Child Policy, women have been forcibly aborted up to the ninth month of pregnancy. Some of these forced abortions have been so violent that the women themselves have died, along with their full term babies. There have been brutal forced sterilizations as well, butchering women and leaving them disabled. Where was the outcry from the UNFPA? In my opinion, silence in the face of such atrocities is complicity.   Dr. Martin Luther King once said, ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ The UNFPA’s silence in the face of decades of forced abortion has been a sword in the wombs of millions of women and babies of China. I rejoice with them that the foot of the UNFPA is finally off of their necks.”

Well done, Mr. President.

I remember listening to Reggie speak around the time China shifted to a Two-Child Policy. She was unimpressed by the change. “What matters is they’re telling people how many kids to have and they’re enforcing it with forced abortions.” She elaborated on that in a 2015 press statement about the policy shift.

“Characterizing this latest modification as ‘abandoning’ the One-Child Policy is misleading. A two-child policy will not end any of the human rights abuses caused by the One Child Policy, including forced abortion, involuntary sterilization or the sex-selective abortion of baby girls….Noticeably absent from the Chinese Communist party’s announcement is any mention of human rights. The Chinese Communist Party has not suddenly developed a conscience or grown a heart. Even though it will now allow all couples to have a second child, China has not promised to end forced abortion, forced sterilization, or forced contraception.

“…In a world laden with compassion fatigue, people are relieved to cross China’s one-child policy off of their list of things to worry about. But we cannot do that. Let us not abandon the women of China, who continue to face forced abortion, and the baby girls of China, who continue to face sex-selective abortion and abandonment. The one-child policy does not need to be modified. It needs to be abolished.”

Let’s hear UNFPA speak up for Chinese women that way. Until then, the agency can get along without U.S. taxpayer support.

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

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The urgency of national news sometimes casts local politics into the shade. Watch out for that. I spent the last election season preaching “downballot” to anyone who would listen. I have no regrets, in view of some of the issues coming up in my area at the state and local levels that are sure to be reflected in federal policy a few years down the road. Furthermore, the candidates succeeding locally are apt to look to higher office sooner or later.

This came to mind as my Facebook feed kicked up a new ad, inviting me to “like” a Model Citizen’s new page. My internal alarms went off. This MC ran last cycle for mayor of the largest city in the state, and lost by a whisker. She’s back for another crack at it.

Ms. Model Citizen was endorsed last time around by EMILY’s List, which was established for exactly one reason: to elect pro-abortion women. Ms. MC downplayed that in her last campaign. The EMILY’s List material promoting her, knowing that the unrestricted-abortion line wouldn’t play well in the city, emphasized her aldermanic experience. I’m betting on the same game plan this time.

And when that happens, it’ll be last time all over again: ask any ten likely voters in that city if they’d support a pro-abortion candidate for mayor, and most would say no. Ask them if they’ve ever heard of EMILY’s List, and nine of them would go “huh?” But ask them if they’d support the alderman from ward X, and it’s a different story.

The last time the mayor of the largest city in the state ran for higher office, he wound up in Congress. Local experience and name recognition counted heavily.

It’s not just the prospect of upward mobility that gives me pause; it’s the more immediate effect on local policy. Who determines local school policies, as least as far the feds allow? Who lends credibility to certain groups by marching or volunteering with them? Who names volunteers to local committees? Who determines the priorities in municipal budgets?

Yup: the locals. While Sean Spicer is briefing reporters about developments in Washington, there’s plenty going on in your own town, without much publicity.

Watch those candidates, whenever your local elections may be. Watch those campaign finance reports. Shine a light on stealth efforts, like EMILY’s List mailings that fail to mention abortion advocacy. Care now, because you can be sure there are interest groups who would be happy for you to leave the caring to them.

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

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