COLUMBUS, OHIO – In what it hails as the most powerful pro-life event on Capitol Hill, Heartbeat International is bringing seven mothers—and their children—to Washington, D.C. this January to tell elected officials how they chose life with the help of a community-funded pregnancy center.
The event, “Babies Go to Congress,” takes place Jan. 26, the morning prior to the annual March for Life, and is Heartbeat International’s 15th such visit to the nation’s capitol since 2009. In the previous trips, 113 mothers and their children have visited a total of 265 offices—including those of both Democrats and Republicans.
In each visit, a mother who has rejected abortion with the help of a pregnancy help organization has the opportunity to tell her story, alongside both her child and the staff from the center that helped her choose life.
“This is one event Planned Parenthood could never dream of pulling off,” Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey said. “Pregnancy help centers empower women to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in an unexpected pregnancy. This is a powerful platform for us to both show and tell the truth that pregnancy help centers are good for America.”
The group this year is made up of two mothers from Ohio, as well as one each from North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, Texas and Wyoming. Though six of the mothers are bringing with them children 4 years old and younger, one mother—Nikki Pinkley from Branson, Mo.—is bringing her 14-year-old daughter to the event.
Together, Nikki and her daughter, Alexis, illustrate the positive life-long impact of that nation’s 2,600 pregnancy help centers.
Nikki was raised in the church and had recently graduated high school when she found out she was pregnant. Finding help at Options Pregnancy Clinic in Branson, she not only chose life for Alexis, but the staff at Options encouraged her to keep pursuing her education and career goals.
Today, Nikki is a closing in on a decade as a licensed professional counselor and is working on her doctoral degree in psychology.
“My hope is that every young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy will find the help she needs to face the challenges of being a single mom,” Nikki, who later married, said. “It’s not easy, but I am living proof that the future is what you make of it. Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you. I found the help I needed, plus a lot of inspiration at Options Pregnancy Clinic.”
About Heartbeat International
Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and the largest network in the world. With 2,100 affiliated pregnancy help locations—including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies—Heartbeat serves on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion. For more information, see www.HeartbeatInternational.org.
by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President
It’s not every day Heartbeat International is considered among the likes of the Sierra Club, PETA, and the NAACP. While these groups focus on the rights of trees, animals, and a key minority people group, they rarely, if ever, find themselves publicly aligned with supporting the rights of the unborn.
So, how is Heartbeat like them at all?
Well, we are a “membership group” just like each of these, and the thousands of membership-based non-profit advocacy groups. Simple? Yes, but profoundly rooted in the fundamental principles of the United States.
And now, thanks to a recent subpoena from the Center for Reproductive Rights, we were reminded that our membership, which we refer to as “affiliates,” is founded in a Constitutional liberty—the Freedom of Association.
In the process of filing to quash the motion in response to the City of Baltimore’s ordinance infringing upon the First Amendment rights of the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, Inc., our friends from Alliance Defending Freedom rightly noted that the “…subpoenas seek information violating the Organizations’ freedom of expressive association and protected by the First Amendment privilege.”
The right to freely enter into or leave an association arises from the First Amendment, and therefore stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the vaunted Freedoms of Speech and Religion.
The God-Ordained Right to Association
A few millennia before this right was enshrined in the Constitution via the Bill of Rights, the concept of association for a greater good was proclaimed by the Preacher:
Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it's just too bad, because there is no one to help him. —Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (GNT)
When your organization takes the step to affiliate—or associate—with Heartbeat International, we agree to share a common purpose. Together, we agree to live out our vision before the watching world in the way we decide—the very right attacked by the Center for Reproductive Rights’ (note the irony) subpoena.
Our Passion for Association
So when you reach out to us at Heartbeat, we in turn reach out to you. Your missional challenges—in various ways—become ours. That is the heart of our affiliation association. It’s joining together for something greater.
While this powerful principle undergirds Heartbeat’s network and is critical for a free society, it is more important to note that association is the very center of the Gospel itself. When we associate with the Lord Jesus Christ, He in turn extends Himself to us!
We associate—in claiming ourselves Christians—with Christ and with one another!
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. —Ephesians 3:14-19 (NASB)
We are family in Christ and fellow laborers in this great work of the Gospel of Life. Heartbeat is honored and privileged to be counted with our missional friends in Baltimore as they undergo persecution on account of their passion to bring life-affirming help to those facing life-and-death decisions.
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