Excerpted from The Power of Pregnancy Help, a book telling the story of the first 50 years of Heartbeat International and the pregnancy help movement. The Power of Pregnancy Help is available wherever books are sold.
Each of our three co-founders, Dr. John Hillabrand, Lore Maier, and Sister Paula Vandegaer, brought special gifts to the establishment of AAI, and they incorporated into our work the values, purposes, and principles that characterized not only AAI’s first twenty years, but also have become the foundation for the growth and development of Heartbeat International over the last thirty years. In the previous three chapters we have tried to capture some of their special gifts and the life experiences and expertise that have left clear marks on the pregnancy help movement both then and now.
The name founders carries with it the concept that these first leaders laid down the foundations for the organization they started, Alternative to Abortion International. And today, that organization, now Heartbeat International, is indeed built on those foundations. However, our founders believed, and Heartbeat believes today, that they were building for the entire pregnancy help movement, then and now – not just for those that became or would become official affiliates. Anyone who provided life-affirming pregnancy help was and is welcome, all learn and contribute, all work together to advance the mission of saving and changing lives. So, the foundations were built and are maintained now for the entire pregnancy help movement.
. . .
Always More Than Saving Babies
All three of our co-founders had a view of our work that encompassed more than saving babies. Those who describe the mission of pregnancy help centers as “saving babies” are only describing a part of our founders’ vision and mission and part of the movement’s vision today.
Our founders focused on both mother and baby, and, in fact, on the family and the entire culture. They saw that we were involved in this work to serve women in need and help them so they could save their babies, but also (especially in the work of Sister Paula) that we were in a position to help women understand their true womanhood. Dr. John and Lore’s writings and talks also show that they viewed an attack on the sanctity of human life in the womb as an attack on society as a whole and on all humanity that would have profound ramifications. Lore tried to warn of the effect of abortion not only on women themselves and the family, but also on the perpetrators (the abortionists), and even on those who merely stood by and observed (the general public).
The first logo that was chosen for AAI, used in the very first communications in early 1972, was called “Hearts of Gold.” It is not a baby, nor is it a mother and child. The logo features two larger gold hearts (with some lines and markings, the result of life’s scars, experience, maturity, and wisdom) surrounding a tiny, unmarked, pure golden heart that represents the innocent human child. The logo shows that we need to protect, shelter, and nurture that child, born and unborn. The hearts of gold represent the family as God intended it. With the family relationships disrupted and in need of healing, the larger, sheltering hearts could be those of us in this movement protecting the child. Heartbeat’s logo has changed to the “Heart of the Future,” but Heartbeat International still features our “Hearts of Gold” on our premier Legacy Award since God’s plan for the family is still at the heart of our mission. One of the amazing things about the early AAI Academies (Conferences) was the diversity of expertise represented in the “Faculty” or conference presenters. To help the emerging centers with program development were marriage and family experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, doctors and nurses (with expertise on pregnancy and maternity care, fetal development, labor and delivery, nursing, sexually transmitted diseases, infertility and more), early childhood education experts, researchers, social workers, mothers, fathers, and more.
Programs developing then within the first centers (despite the early term EPS or Emergency Pregnancy Services) and first maternity homes were focused not just on the crisis intervention need for women coming in for a pregnancy test, but on parenting and family unification. For the “negative test client,” programs were developing to help her understand the risks of sexual intimacy outside of marriage. Centers were developing referral networks in their own community and finding like-minded potential partners who could amplify these messages – for example, in schools and in the culture at large.
Today, if you attend a Heartbeat International Conference or any other gathering of pregnancy help organizations around the world, you will find the same. We are about much more than saving babies. Our foundation stones are motherhood, fatherhood, healthy families, and a pro-family culture.
January is Sanctity of Human Life Month, and this year Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is celebrated on either January 16th or 23rd, which is a time we set aside every year to focus on the value of each and every human life. It is celebrated every year on the Sundays closest to the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
We want to make sure that you are equipped with the resources you need when connecting with your local churches to build relationships and raise awareness for the incredible work you are doing to reach women in your community.
Click any of the images below to download and share them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter using the hashtag #SOHL
Anne Pierson is a memorable soul – A pioneer. A founder. An author. A mentor. A mother & friend. Surrounded by housing peers, this noteworthy woman was awarded a Lifetime Legacy award on October 28 from the National Maternity Housing Coalition. “Anne has always been one of my role models since the moment I met her,” Peggy Hartshorn, Board President of Heartbeat International described, “I admire her both as an individual and as an example of ministry as a couple.”
Anne loves singing, puzzles, and striking up conversations wherever she goes. Her love takes the form of being able to focus deeply on the individual in front of her and speak to their heart. She gives “words” as a spiritual ministry to encourage and direct. She has lived a rich life of relationship, having touched many lives with her expertise and genuine love.
As an only child, Anne longed for the large extended families she saw in her childhood neighborhood. Her husband Jimmy had a deep yearning to be a father even as a youth. Both of these desires were realized in the unique extended family they created together. They wed when Anne was 18 years old and together, they had two daughters, Holly and Shelly. As youth ministers early in their marriage, Anne and Jimmy encountered a young woman who was pregnant due to rape. This encounter began a lifetime journey of service to women and children.
Anne and Jimmy welcomed over 200 pregnant women into the context of their personal home, opening their doors to women in need of support. The family life that was shared together is the source of many of Anne’s great stories and insights and Anne has stayed in touch with many of these families for years and years. Their personal efforts became formalized in the founding of a nonprofit, House of His Creation, in 1972. Following many years of direct service, the Pierson’s were publicly recognized in a speech made by President Reagan. This prompted other individuals and ministries needing help to reach out and eventually, led to the development of a new ministry.
Anne began writing materials and in 1984, founded Loving & Caring, an international ministry to provide resources, materials, and practical tools for those in the pregnancy help movement. The My Baby and Me workbook series remains a valuable tool in the pro-life movement, especially in supporting the exploration of adoption. Anne played a key role in the establishment of the National Christian Housing Conference.
As a speaker, she has brought the pro-life message to a variety of settings including conferences, churches, and retreats. A natural storyteller, Anne brings a spark of humor and light-heartedness, illustrating her teachings with tales from her life. She is passionate about the impact of fatherlessness, the beauty of adoption, and the model of family.
“Anne’s years and years of service have shaped the maternity housing community in profound ways,” Mary Peterson, facilitator of the National Maternity Housing Coalition, noted. “She introduced and gave shape to a new model of ministry which inspired many to take up the work. Her work continues in the leaders she has formed who continue to serve with great conviction and passion.”
Over the course of their service, Jim and Anne received Heartbeat’s inaugural Servant Leader Award in 1996. Years later, they also received a 2011 Legacy Award, part of a very small community of those who have been honored with both. Following Jim’s passing in 2012, Heartbeat established a scholarship in his name to support a housing organization in attending the conference.
In recent months, Pierson has announced that the next season of her ministry will be closer to home. A resident of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Anne is involved with ministries and churches in that community. She has a rich family life including 3 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Speaking with conviction, Hartshorn summed up Anne’s legacy in this way, “Anne is an incredibly wise woman – versed in human nature, able to see what women really need, and willing to pour herself out with genuine love.”
As the Lifetime Legacy award noted, Anne Pierson has indeed “fought the good fight and finished the race.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
. . . . .
Ashley Bratcher - You are the real heroes
David Bereit - I appreciate you
Kristan Hawkins - I want to truly thank you for being on the frontlines
Jeanne Mancini - We are praying for you
Special Message from Anne Pierson
Jay Hobbs - Every day, you are doing the work that God has called you to do
Like these? Check out videos from past Pregnancy Help Appreciation Weeks. You are loved. And the work you do, admired.
And don't forget to check out the deals of the day and share the love on social media!
CHICAGO – Headlining with syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, the 2017 Heartbeat International Annual Conference kicks off Wednesday and runs through Friday, and is expected to draw over 1,200 guests from 15 countries to Chicago’s Hyatt Regency near O’Hare Airport.
The conference is the 46th in Heartbeat International’s history, this year taking place in a state where pro-life medical professionals—including many who work and volunteer at nonprofit pregnancy clinics—are fighting a recent change to state law signed into effect by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Gov. Rauner signed a legislative change to Illinois’ Healthcare Right of Conscience Act midway through 2016 that would force doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to refer their patients for abortions against the deeply held religious conviction of those professionals. The law, which also applies to nonprofits that expressly exist to offer alternatives to abortion and receive no government funding, is being fought in state and federal courts, with one judge granting a temporary injunction against the law in late 2016.
The location of the conference—which varies each year—comes at the perfect time, says Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey, who has called upon affiliates in the state to defy the law.
“We plan these conferences several years ahead of time, so we feel particularly energized and encouraged to see all the pieces fall into place for Chicago in 2017,” Godsey said. “We’re looking forward to seeing great things happen with our speakers, ministry partners and special guests all week.”
A member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors, as well as a Fox News contributor, Cal Thomas is a past recipient of the William F. Buckley, Jr., Award for Media Excellence. He will be speaking Wednesday afternoon ahead of Ryan Bomberger, an Emmy® Award-winning creative professional who is an outspoken leader within the pro-life movement after having been conceived in rape and going onto become an adoptive father.
The keynote lineup also includes David and Jason Benham, former professional baseball players and successful realtors whose HGTV show was canceled in 2014 because of their candid Christian beliefs. Jill Stanek—a former RN in Oak Lawn, Ill., who resigned her position when hospital administrators would do nothing to stop infants born alive during abortions from being left to die—will also speak at the event, along with Dr. William Lile, an ob-gyn who bought out an abortion facility in South Florida and has spent the last two decades educating audiences on abortion procedures.
In addition to the keynotes, the conference includes 90 workshops and 15 full-day courses, including over 20 learning opportunities approved for nursing contact hours by the California Board of Registered Nursing.
“Pregnancy help centers and medical clinics are good for America,” Godsey said. “This is a primary opportunity for those of us within this vital community to link arms and better equip ourselves to save lives in a life-changing way.”
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.
Pregnancy Help Appreciation Week was designed by Heartbeat International to honor those working within the pregnancy help movement. Through their work, women and men receive the compassionate support they need when facing a life-changing decision. They walk alongside families throughout the pregnancy and beyond, blessing them with pregnancy tests, emotional support, ultrasounds, parenting classes, and so much more at no cost. In this, our 50th year serving the pregnancy help movement, we'd love to keep up the celebration with you! (Learn more about our 50 year celebration by clicking here.)
From volunteers to executive directors, nurses to receptionists, each person working in a pregnancy help organization has been gifted with the passion to advance the culture of LIFE! And for that, we thank you!
This year's Pregnancy Help Appreciation Week is November 8-12, 2021.
If you haven't heard of Pregnancy Help Appreciation Week before, you should expect special deals, thank-you messages, and extra prayers this week.
Plus! We'll be holding a drawing at the end of the week where one lucky winner will get a fun gift basket from us at Heartbeat!
Download any of the images below to share on Facebook, Instagram or tweet and show your love for the pregnancy help movement using the hashtag #ThankAPregnancyCenter
Today, we've added the 2021 Conference Keynote by Nicole C. Mullen as a free source of inspiration. We're also highlighting Raising the Standard, our training on the Commitment of Care and Confidence. If you missed any deals from earlier in the week, make sure you take a second look because they're all available again through the end of the weekend!
by Mary Peterson, Housing Specialist
Early in the three-day meeting, the question was posed: "Has the maternity housing movement, as a whole, strayed from its core mission?" Gulp. Big question.
All present were quick to defend the good work that currently happens in the approximately 400 maternity homes across the United States. There is no doubt of the important role that maternity homes play within the pregnancy help movement. But the question lingered.
Historically, maternity homes developed to support women through an adoption plan, first as large institutional programs often staffed by Catholic religious orders. Trying to protect the confidentiality of the women coming to the program, these early homes were often shrouded in secrecy and silence. Many of the reforms in adoption began from the heartache of women who experienced adoption not as an empowering choice, but rather as a decision they felt was forced upon them without sensitive acknowledgment of the pain involved.
From these roots, as movement toward open adoptions began, the host or shepherding home model developed as families began welcoming a pregnant woman into their homes. And, in recent history, as the needs and challenging circumstances of the pregnant women in need of housing support have increased, a variety of models have developed that allow for increased expertise in supporting women in situations related to addiction, violence, abuse, and trauma. As this progression has happened, the number of adoptions in maternity homes has dramatically decreased.
The 10 housing leaders who serve as the Leadership Council for the National Maternity Housing Coalition (NMHC), a joint-affiliate of Heartbeat International, gathered to think deeply about why this has happened and how maternity homes might restore their heritage as a safe refuge for women considering adoption. It is not as if maternity homes are not supportive of adoption.
Homes, generally, are delighted to walk with a women pursuing an adoption plan. And, several homes, especially those with over 30 years of experience, have deep organizational ties to adoption agencies. Even so, the NMHC Leadership Council collectively wondered, "Can we be doing more? Why do we continue to see declining numbers? Is there something that we, as maternity homes, can do better?"
Shawn Stevenson, the Executive Director of Life Services in Spokane, Wash., raised the question of an organization's "null curriculum". Based on his training in the education field, Shawn asked, "It makes me wonder about our programs. Specifically, What are we teaching by what we are not teaching?"
He continued, "Is there something in the way that we handle adoption that inadvertently communicates a bias we don't intend?" The statement raised a great conversation about the strategies used by homes to introduce adoption.
Through discussion, five major strategies surfaced. All are currently being used by homes to incorporate an adoption message:
While these strategies are a solid starting point, the challenge was raised on how to re-think and re-craft the strategies used to present the beauty of adoption in new and creative ways within the home environment.
Summing up the conversation, Jeannine Floores, a birth mom and adoptive mom who leads Breath of Life in Austin, Texas spoke of the need to create an adoption-positive culture throughout the organization.
"Moms need to know that you aren't focused on WHAT decision she makes," she said, "only that she makes an informed, prayerful, thought-out decision."
The National Maternity Housing Coalition took this message to heart and renewed its commitment to pregnancy decision making as the place of excellence for maternity housing programs.
"It is this decision-making process that makes maternity homes different than any other housing programs for women," Callie Neff of House of His Creation asserted, "In addition to all the other ways that maternity homes support women, we must support her in thinking about her options around how her child will be parented."
A re-examination of our past as a maternity housing movement allowed us to remember our role in championing the adoption message. As such, the NMHC is inviting homes to re-engage the adoption message in a new way this year and keep decision-making during pregnancy at the heart of their mission. You can anticipate dynamic trainings and conversations on how to achieve that goal within the upcoming year.
Tweet This: Father of #prolife movement created legacy of life, family, true reproductive healthcare
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Responding to news of the death of Dr. John C. Willke, a key pioneer in the pro-life movement, Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., has issued the following statement:
“We are all saddened to hear of the loss of Dr. Jack Willke, who many call the father of the pro-life movement,” Hartshorn said. “When I became president of Heartbeat International in 1993, we became colleagues as leaders of national and international organizations, but before that, he was a dear friend and a mentor to me.”
[Click here to see video of Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn's comments on Dr. Willke's passing.]
Willke, 89, died Friday, Feb. 21, at his home, according to a press release from Life Issues Institute, an organization he and his late wife, Barbara, founded in 1991.
The Willke family’s work in the pro-life arena began in the 1960s, when the couple started producing and distributing slides and brochures detailing the facts about fetal development and abortion procedures. Dr. Willke served two terms (1980-83, 1984-91) as president of the National Right to Life Committee.
His 1985 book, “Abortion Questions & Answers: Love Them Both,” helped shape the national pro-life movement’s dialogue to what Heartbeat International has called a “woman-centered approach.” Heartbeat International honored Dr. Willke with its “Servant Leader Award” in 2003.
“We owe so much to those early medical leaders, who knew that true healthcare for women involved respect not only for the woman, but her unborn child. What a tremendous example they have been—and are—as we continue to carry on their legacy.”
Hartshorn, whose career in the pro-life field began as president of the Columbus, Ohio, chapter of Right to Life, worked closely with Dr. and Mrs. Willke when both were involved with the organization. It was Willke’s brochure and slides, “Life or Death” that served as Hartshorn’s initial introduction into pro-life work.
Hartshorn appeared in “Dr. Willke, A Pro-Life Legacy to Last a Lifetime,” a documentary on Dr. Willke’s life and legacy produced by Life Issues Institutes in Jan., 2015.
“I remember so many things about Dr. Willke, and one of those things is the example of family that he embodied. He and his late wife, Barbara, were together in this movement, and I believe that is such an important thing as we commit ourselves long-term to stand for life and a culture of life. We need the help and support of families in this movement.”
About Heartbeat International Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and now the largest and most expansive network in the world. With nearly 2,000 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.
Heartbeat International welcomes Carrie Beliles as our new part-time International Program Specialist. Carrie will now be the primary liaison and consultant for Heartbeat'sInternational Program outreach.
Originally from the U.S.A., Carrie's travels and interests have taken her far and wide. From running a pregnancy help center in Rammstein, Germany to advocating against sex-trafficking in Asia, Carrie's passion for life-affirming ministry is evident. She has 5 kids (all under the age of 8) and now makes her home in Virginia with her husband, Ben.
Carrie joins the Ministry Services Team and takes over the role from Molly Hoepfner, who will now be more focused as Heartbeat's Event Planner, especially our Annual Conference.
We are so excited to have Carrie on the team that we decided to do a quick interview so you could get to know her too.
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