As many of you are aware, cyber attacks have been, and will continue to be, waged against the pregnancy help community.
One method Heartbeat has observed is flooding center schedulers with fake appointment requests so that legitimate requests can't be entered. Another is flooding review sites (such as Yelp or Google) with negative reviews.
While we've talked before about inviting positive reviews from your actual clients and reporting reviews that are clearly by people who have never visited your organization, the experts at Next Level want to make sure you know about the best way to challenge tactics that target schedulers.
Next Level has implemented a Captcha function for their self-service Center Scheduler feature to mitigate this threat.The goal of Captcha is to ensure all appointment requesters come from humans, not bots or scripts spamming a system. In other words, visitors to a center's website that uses Next Level must answer a Captcha challenge correctly in order to request an appointment (like many websites require to comment, create an account, or schedule an appointment). (See the image below for an example.)
If you've found this tactic preventing your clients from being able to schedule appointments, or just want to be proactive about preventing it, reach out to your online scheduling provider and ask about adding Captcha. If you find yourself wanting a CMS made specifically for pregnancy help organizations, check out NextLevelCMS.com to find out what Heartbeat has to offer!
Jor-El Godsey: "We are more committed to this than ever." from Heartbeat International on Vimeo.
The May 1st report of the leak of the Alito opinion has stirred up abortion supporters. Even more it has frightened and infuriated some radicals among the group to take action.
Sinister threats have been made against Justice Alito, the other justices expected to vote to overturn Roe, and the Supreme Court itself.
The rage has also ignited actions against pregnancy help centers. We’ve received multiple reports of protests at local PHCs and even vandalism, including destruction of property. While we may be the target of their anger, we are not the true reason.
“Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.” John 15:20-21 NLT
After all, we have been helping women overcome the obstacles that force them into the profiteering practice of abortion for the nearly fifty years that Roe has been in place. Our motivation has never been the politics but the practical need every woman has to be loved and supported in her pregnancy. Our joy is helping her, and our reward is fulfilling the call to love her through her valley of decision.
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” Matthew 5:11 NLT
Persecution is no fun, but it does bring “great reward” ahead! In the midst of it, we can also realize the reward of being a partner with Christ.
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 NLT
Along with the proper spiritual perspective of protests and persecutions we can take practical steps to protect ourselves and our centers in preparing for increased protest activities.
Security systems are highly recommended. Especially those that use cameras to capture activity in and around your building (if you have your own building). Having cameras may not fully dissuade negative activity but they can help in showing criminal activity to law enforcement.
Policy and protocols are helpful to protect our personnel as much as they help protect the ministry. Consider adopting some practices, at least for this heightened season, like having at least two people in the pregnancy center.
Should protestors assemble it might be helpful to contact local law enforcement and advise them of the situation. If peaceful you might just use the “non-emergency” number and explain the situation as you see it. Of course, if protesters begin to harass or threaten anyone or anything (verbally or physically) report this immediately to the authorities. In addition, threats of violence or vandalism of a PHO can be reported to your local FBI Field Office and/or submitted through the FBI Tip Line at FBI.gov. Sometimes this prompts a faster response than a local Police Department can or would provide. The FBI is taking this very seriously and has an open investigation on Jane's Revenge. Click here for an FBI resource booklet.
Have your property insurance information handy. Should vandalism occur, right after reporting the incident to law enforcement you might want to be ready to reach out to your insurance provider to discuss filing a claim.
This is last on this list, but it is the greatest. Prayer is our partnership with God in fulfilling His Will for our lives, this ministry, and the life-affirming outcomes He desires. Prayer is power for the spiritual warfare that is part and parcel of the landscape in which we serve. We are called to pray even for our “enemies” (Mt 5:44). Fortunately, we know that we are on God’s side and can fully trust in Him to walk with us and work through us.
The Lord will also be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble; And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, Lord, have not abandoned those who seek You. Psalm 9:9-10 NASB
by Danielle White, Esq.General Counsel, Heartbeat International
In light of the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion reversing Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson, we have witnessed the intensifying extremism of pro-abortion advocates. Heartbeat has received multiple reports of vandalism and death threats against pregnancy centers and personnel since the draft opinion was leaked. One would think that those claiming to care about pregnant women would not direct their violence at the very locations that support pregnant women. But unfortunately, we are not talking about reasonable people.
On Sunday, May 8, 2022, pro-life group Wisconsin Family Action was attacked with Molotov cocktails and the building set fire. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Shortly thereafter, an organization calling itself “Jane’s Revenge” claimed responsibility for the attack. While Wisconsin Family Action is not a pregnancy center, “Jane’s Revenge” called the attack “only a warning” and demanded the “disbanding of all anti-choice establishments, fake clinics [an extremist term for pregnancy centers offering help and hope to women] and violent anti-choice groups within the next thirty days.” The group claims to be “not one group, but many. We are in your city. We are in every city.” Since then, Jane's Revenge has been threatening and committing vandalism against pro-life organizations of many kinds, including pregnancy help organizations. The FBI is taking this very seriously and has an open investigation on Jane's Revenge.
Intimidation of pregnancy centers is not a new tactic, and, sadly, pro-abortion extremists have long hated pregnancy centers. However, given the news out of the Supreme Court and the realistic possibility that this is the year Roe v. Wade will be overturned, the temperature has reached new heights on the abortion issue. This is a time to review your safety and security policies and procedures, retrain your volunteers and staff as necessary, and be especially vigilant about your surroundings. Here are five more tips to better prepare and protect your pregnancy center now and in the days to come.
Invest in security systems and cameras both inside and outside your center. While this requires an investment of fiscal resources, a security system with cameras may deter criminal activity helps create a record that can be provided to law enforcement if, God-forbid, something does happen. Many companies that provide security systems and devices offer a free consultation and provide recommendations to protect your center. This would be a good ask for a certain level donor.
This is a great opportunity to build a relationship with local law enforcement! Most departments, particularly rural departments, would be happy to perform a walkthrough and security assessment of your center. Take this opportunity to share with them what the center does for women and to ask for their expertise about security. Ask them to identify vulnerabilities in your center’s security. Ask them to show you where they would allow protesters to congregate and to explain what the center should do if protesters trespass or engage in threatening behavior. Keep in mind that you could extend this invitation either to the City Police or the County Sheriff if they share jurisdiction. Building a relationship with a local law enforcement official might make it easier to call upon them if your center experiences threats.
You can also hire police on “special duty.” This involves an investment of funds and is usually available on a pre-scheduled basis, rather than in response to an ongoing situation. Your local law enforcement agency can advise you about the conditions for hiring a special duty officer. This option might be especially helpful if you become aware of a planned protest at your center or in your area. A special duty officer can assist with keeping people off the center’s property and act as a deterrent to property damage or violence.
Finally, you should mention the Jane’s Revenge threat to law enforcement if your pregnancy center contacts them for help with protesters or vandalism. Explaining the current climate with the Dobbs decision and the vandalism documented may be beneficial in keeping local law enforcement apprised should a need arise in the future. Threats of violence or vandalism of a PHO can be submitted to your local FBI Field Office or through the FBI Tip Line at FBI.gov and also through state and major urban area fusion centers. They are owned and operated by state and local entities, and are designated by the governor of their state. Sometimes, this prompts a faster response than a local Police Department can or would provide. The FBI is taking this very seriously and has an open investigation on Jane's Revenge. Click here for an FBI resource booklet.
Private property owners can set their own rules for speech and protest activities on their property. The center is not required to allow protesters on its private property. Therefore, it is important to know the location of the property lines where your center is located. Is your center’s parking lot private property? Once protesters are on private property, they are trespassing, and you could contact law enforcement to ask for their removal. Keep in mind that protesters may be entitled to protest on public sidewalks.
If applicable, you may also consider talking to your landlord to find out what the landlord expects from the center in the event of protesters. If you are in a plaza or office space shared with other tenants, your landlord may be especially interested in ensuring that protesters do not disrupt the other businesses as well, and your landlord may be an ally in interfacing with police or installing cameras or barriers to deter protestors.
Now is the time to revisit your Center’s policies and procedures relating to security and evaluate them given today’s climate and the intensifying extremism by the pro-choice movement. Here are a few policies and procedures we recommend you implement:
The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (“FACE Act”) likely applies to your center and could be a very powerful tool in dealing with protestors. The FACE Act prohibits violent, threatening, damaging and obstructive behavior towards anyone obtaining or providing reproductive health services. Violators of the FACE Act could be fined or even imprisoned. The Act also provides civil remedies to the victims, including compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief. The FACE Act provides for statutory damages, making it even easier to recover money from protesters who violate it. If protesters outside your clinic attempt to block or impede access to the clinic, to intimidate your clients, or cause property damage, please contact Heartbeat to discuss your options. We have been informed that from the FBI's perspective, pregnancy help organizations are covered under the FACE Act. Click here for an FBI resource booklet.
While we hope that you never need use of this information, it is always good to take the opportunity to review your security policies with staff and volunteers and ensure that you are ready, just in case.
Ezekiel 38:7“Be ready and keep ready, you and all your hosts that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them.”
On Wednesday June 15th, 2:30 EST, Heartbeat International hosted a free, affiliate-only webinar onWhat to Do if Your Center is Vandalized. It was presented by Heartbeat's President, Jor-El Godsey and General Counsel, Danielle White, Esq, and included a time of Q&A. You can access the recording here.
As the days tick down to the end of the Supreme Court’s term, the nation anxiously awaits the release of the final opinion in Dobbs – a case which could finally overturn the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. After an historic leak from the Supreme Court of a draft opinion overturning Roe, pro-abortion extremists have begun an intimidation campaign, attempting to sway the court and terrify those who offer life-affirming assistance to women and families.
While Live Action has chronicled the attacks on life-affirming organizations, suffice it to say that tensions are high. According to a recent survey, 1 in 6 PHOs have experienced targeted harassment ranging from fake online reviews to vandalism, including destruction of property. Until the Court issues its ruling, and probably for some time thereafter, the list of centers who have suffered threats, vandalism, and persecution is likely to grow.
Heartbeat has created a growing resource that goes over many practical steps that you can take to protect your center, its personnel, and its clients, which you can find here. But what if you arrive at your center to find it vandalized?
These are troubling times, and it is natural to feel intimidated or nervous. “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3. As you walk compassionately with women, offering them help and hope, “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6.
Heartbeat is here for you. We are inspired by you. We are fighting alongside you. And we are praying for you.
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