by Mike Spencer, Life Training Institute
Heartbeat is glad to welcome back Mike Spencer from the Life Training Institute to teach his popular Making the Case for Life In-Depth Day at the 2017 Heartbeat International Annual Conference, April 18, 2017 in Chicago. Here's a taste of the sort of approach he takes to sharing both the gospel and the pro-life message in every day life.
On a flight home from a recent speaking engagement, I spoke with Reagan, a man in his late 20’s who sat across the aisle from me. I made conversation by asking a few friendly questions and discovered Reagan married two years ago, did software work for the Air Force, and was heading home from a business trip. He was extremely personable and we small-talked for about 10 minutes before we both opened books and read for the next hour of our flight.
However, 20 minutes before the plane landed Reagan closed his book, so I seized the opportunity to engage him in more conversation by asking another question or two. Eventually, he asked me a question; “What kind of work do you do?” After explaining what I did, Reagan responded, “I lean toward the pro-choice view. Tell me why I should be pro-life.”
What a golden opportunity! I answered, “Well, actually, you shouldn’t be pro-life if the science of embryology is wrong.” This allowed me to focus our discussion around the central question, “What are the preborn?”, and launched us into a meaningful dialogue.
Before long, we had an audience as passengers in the two seats in front of us unashamedly repositioned themselves in their seats in order to listen in. Reagan’s comfort with our exchange, expressed by his many questions, provided ample opportunity for me to make the case for life. As the plane landed, most of the passengers crammed themselves into the aisle to exit and I ended the conversation by thanking Reagan for the enjoyable dialogue.
As we waited, and with our audience still present, Reagan surprised me with yet another direct question: “Thirty years of marriage, eh? What’s your secret?”
I marveled over the gift this conversation was and wondered if those listening in suspected Reagan and me of collusion. I responded, “Reagan, there’s no secret. My wife and I are convinced Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be: God who took on flesh to pay the penalty for our sins. We’ve built our lives on this truth and on His teachings and this has made all the difference in our marriage.”
Reagan kindly thanked me and that ended our discussion. Along with the other passengers, we began to file out of the plane. I felt great emotion and thanked God under my breath for this encounter. I have no idea what lasting impact, if any, my words had on Reagan or our extended audience. But God knows and I trust Him to use them for His purposes.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom of many Christians, pro-life ministry and sharing the Gospel are not competing interests, as my experience with Reagan proved. In fact, doing the first often leads to doing the second. I still have much to learn as an ambassador for Christ, but speaking compassionately and persuasively to the pressing moral issues of our time naturally opens the door to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
We are not forced to choose between speaking up for the forgotten little ones scheduled to die by abortion and pointing others to the Gospel. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can do both. Responding to legalized abortion is a Gospel issue that often presents us with a Gospel opportunity.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” – Colossians 4:5
Reprinted with permission from prolifemike.com. Originally published April 17, 2015.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - With over 40 years’ experience in the pro-life movement, Heartbeat International president Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., has been selected to chair a plenary panel on the sanctity of life at World Congress of Families IX, meeting Oct. 27-30 in Salt Lake City.
The plenary panel is comprised of five major voices in the pro-life movement, each representing a distinct sphere of influence. An addition to from Hartshorn’s expertise in the pregnancy help community, panelists include LifeSiteNews’ co-founder and editor John-Henry Westen, Americans United for Life president and CEO Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D., Life Action founder Lila Rose, and Dr. Alveda King, Priests for Life’s director of African American outreach and niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“This panel represents some of the very best of the life-affirming pro-life movement,” Hartshorn said. “It really is a pleasure to serve alongside such excellent leaders, especially when I reflect on how far our movement has come. We have a solid foundation to continue building upon, and it’s clear our future is bright.”
The upcoming meeting at the World Congress of Families marks the third for Hartshorn, who has spoken at past events in Russia and Malta. Heartbeat International is a sponsor of the meeting, which features thousands of pro-family participants from over 80 countries.
Later in the week, Hartshorn will join a panel chaired by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary assistant professor of ethics Evan Lenow, addressing the topic, “How the Culture Undermines Life and Family.”
A past recipient of President’s Volunteer Service Award under President George H.W. Bush, the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award, the Defender of Life Award from Students for Life and the Cardinal John J. O’Connor pro-life award from Legatus International, Hartshorn and her husband, Mike, began housing pregnant women in 1975 and launched Columbus, Ohio-based Pregnancy Decision Health Centers in 1981.
Hartshorn, the first paid executive of Heartbeat International, took over the organization when it had only 250 affiliates back in 1993, and has since grown the network to nearly 2,000 pregnancy help centers, medical clinics, maternity homes and nonprofit adoption agencies.
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.
"Real women are being silenced and gagged in the process."
COLUMBUS, OH – An article first posted Dec. 5 on Vocativ.com before it was picked up at Slate.com and The Daily Mail, among others, calls into question both the demand and medical research behind a treatment designed to reverse the effects of Mifepristone, developed by Dr. George Delgado, M.D., F.A.A.F.P.
Dr. Delgado, who sits on Heartbeat International's Medical Advisory Board, is medical director of Culture of Life Family Health Care and founder of AbortionPillReversal.com, which has built a network of 226 pro-life OB-GYNs who are prepared to provide an early dose of supplemental progesterone to block the effects of Mifepristone—the first of two pills administered in the RU-486 regimen.
"We are grateful for Dr. Delgado's work," Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., said. "It is a shame to see his good work besmirched by agenda-driven writers, determined to grow the business of abortion.
"The tragic thing is that real women who have either been helped by this treatment or wish that they had been, are being silenced and gagged in the process," Hartshorn said. "Pregnancy help organizations like Dr. Delgado's offer each and every woman the true compassion, support, and choice she deserves."
The articles—released over two years after Heartbeat International reported the site's launch and first distributed a webinar on the procedure through Heartbeat Academy—cite the small sample size of women included in an initial peer-reviewed 2012 report published by Dr. Delgado.
Dr. Delgado's team is currently reviewing its cases from the time of the initial report—which included 28 contacts and four births following ingestion of Mifepristone from May to December 2012.
Neither Dr. Delgado nor his team have been contacted by reporters linked to the recent articles.
by Lynn Smith RN, National Association of Pro-Life Nurses Member, and Marianne Linane RN, MS, MA, National Association of Pro-Life Nurses Executive Director
In 1995, during the U.S. Senate debate on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D. California) read into the record a letter from Geri Marrullo, then-executive director of the American Nurses Association, in opposition to the proposed ban on Partial-Birth Abortion.
The ANA claimed to be "the only full-time professional organization representing the nation's 2.2 million registered nurses."
While investigating the ANA's exclusive claim to represent the nation's RNs to the U.S. Senate, it was discovered that though there were 2.2 million RNs at the time, and the ANA is exclusively RNs, only 190,000 nurses were actually members; only 9% of U.S. nurses.
In 2011, there were 3.1 million nurses, and only 180,000 nurses were members, or about 6%.
RN Magazine, the mainstream nursing journal, did a survey in 1999, showing that nearly 2/3 of nurses surveyed thought that partial-birth abortion should be prohibited by law. [Marissa Ventura RN, Aug. 16, 2002, "Ethics on the Job: Where Nurses Stand on Abortion."]
In response to the ANA's position against a ban, a unique and separate professional nurses organization, the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses stepped forward and, in 2000, submitted a Friend of the Court brief in Stenberg v. Carhart, supporting a ban on partial birth abortion. In 2003, NAPN nurses gathered nurses' signatures on a national petition, which was submitted to the U.S. Congress, also to ban the procedure.
All nurses can appreciate the gains that the ANA has accomplished in making nursing more professional and patient care more effective. This is what we want and expect from a full-time professional association.
If the ANA was only neutral on bioethical issues, we would have cause for concern, but the clearly aggressive anti-life political lobbying by the ANA, is a disservice to nurses of conscience, and a misrepresentation to the public, to our courts, to our elected officials, and even to other nurses.
The National Association of Pro-Life Nurses offers nurses of conscience a choice for affiliation with a professional organization that is a voice affirming the gift of life.
Chartered since 1978, The National Association of Pro-Life Nurses is a not-for-profit organization uniting nurses who are "dedicated to promoting respect for every human life from conception to natural death, and to affirming that the destruction of that life, for whatever reason and by whatever means, does not constitute good nursing practice."
It's a community of like-minded nurses who can offer advice and encouragement on problems that nurses encounter.
As a professional organization, NAPN works to:
The NAPN legal defense fund also provides the resources needed to submit Friend of the Court briefs in cases such as those heard by the United States Supreme Court. Several of these briefs have been filed, some which are on the opposite side of the argument from the American Nurses Association's briefs, such as Stenberg v. Carhart and the more recent decision, Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.
NAPN provides education for those facing difficult choices involving life-taking decisions and promotion of positive alternative choices.
Members are kept informed on current issues through Pulse Line, the quarterly newsletter, and links to relevant medical journal articles at the website: NursesForLife.org.
A $1,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a nursing student whose application best meets the criteria established. It is decided by the scholarship committee.
Continuing education is provided at its general meetings, in conjunction with the annual National Right to Life Committee Convention and speakers are provided for local nursing events on life topics.
NAPN has a strong position statement supporting informed consent for human research subjects.
Two outstanding pro-life nurses who have been members are Brenda Pratt Shafer, the nurse who exposed the practices at Martin Haskell's abortion clinic, because she was an eyewitness to partial-birth abortions, and Jill Stanek, who exposed the practice of abandoning babies surviving late-term abortions, left to die, alone and uncomforted, in the dirty utility room of the hospital where she worked.
Both Brenda and Jill have testified before the U.S. Congress and both were instrumental in having those practices outlawed, to the extent that Congress could act.
For more information visit NursesForLife.org Consider becoming a member of the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses, and joining your voice with the professional organization that can best represent your life affirming values to other nurses, to the public, to our courts and to our elected representatives.
By Jennifer Minor, Editor/Writer
For the last 42 years, October has been recognized as Respect Life Month, focusing on issues of life and the dignity of the human person, with a special emphasis each year. It's also time set aside to spread stories about the good that comes from adoption and the healing that can follow an abortion.
For us, every month is the month we witness, experience, and encounter these stories, so why even bother with Respect Life Month?
It's all about seasons. The seasons set aside in church life to celebrate such events as Easter and Christmas help fuel our appreciation and awareness about truths that should always be on our hearts and minds. We recognize the truth of Jesus rising from the dead every day, but that doesn't keep us from celebrating Easter. In the same way, we celebrate Respect Life Month to remind ourselves and others of the beauty and wonder of life from conception to natural death.
Reflect on this year's theme for a moment. "Each of us is a masterpiece of God's creation." When you go to an art museum and see a painting or sculpture worked by a master artist, what do you do?
Personally, I'm stopped in my tracks, breathlessly gazing on the beauty and wonder of the masterpiece. Between van Gogh's Starry Night, da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Rodin's The Thinker, and Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son - only a few of the recognized masterpieces of Western art - I could spend days in reflection and admiration.
And yet, these master artists are mere shadows and reflections of the Master Artist, whose masterpieces we so easily pass by without a second glance. God gives each of His masterpieces unique gifts of life, personality, and will. God's art is not stagnant or unthinking. Every person - each of us - is one of God's masterpieces.
When we take the time to gaze at His masterpieces, we can't help but notice the beauty and wonder of each man and woman, adult and child, pregnant mother and unborn baby.
This is the month to remind ourselves, our staff, our volunteers, our clients and our communities that each of us is a masterpiece. It's a time to remember that every life is worth celebrating, honoring, and cherishing as a precious and irreplaceable creation by the Designer and Maker of the universe.
Whether you have celebrated October as Respect Life Month with fundraising, awareness campaigns, or nothing at all, it's not too late to remind someone that they are a masterpiece. Those we serve certainly need this reminder, but so do our staff, volunteers, and everyone we see day by day.
Speaking of reminders, here is one for you: You are a masterpiece created by God, the Master Artist. Even if no one else does, He gazes on you with wonder, both in this season and in every season.
We all know we should be voting, but is it really that important? After all, we’re not even picking the president this year.
The United States has a surprisingly low turnout of voters, hovering between 55 and 60 percent in any given election. Why can’t we find it in ourselves to get out there and vote our values? Could it be that we believe one or more of these myths?
There’s a lot of hype for presidential elections, but for some reason, midterm elections don’t seem to matter as much. Nothing could be further from the truth. As powerful as the Presidential office is, he can—ideally—do almost nothing without the support of the Senate and the House. (We saw a government shut down just last year due to House and Senate disagreements on the federal budget.) Do you know who is running for the Senate or House positions open in your state and district? What about the Gubernatorial or Mayoral races? These matter!
With all 435 voting seats in the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 Senate seats up for a vote, no one can deny the importance of this year’s races. In addition, 36 of the 50 states are electing governors, and many U.S. cities are electing mayors. Do you know who’s running in your district? These are the people who make the decisions that keep our local, state, and national governments running. We need to make sure they are the people who are going to truly care for the people—both in the womb and out of the womb.
We’ve heard this one before. Every vote matters. Every single vote matters. Every life changes the world in an unrepeatable and irreplaceable way. And so does every vote. If we stay home on Election Day, our prolife candidates will have to stay home too! What we do and don’t do makes a difference, so let’s make it a positive one.
Untrue! While certain regulations may apply to what your pregnancy help organization can do, you are well within your rights as an individual citizen to encourage those within your sphere of influence to head to the polls. There is everything to gain, and nothing to lose when we encourage our staff, volunteers, partner churches and community supporters to vote their values.
Don’t believe these myths this season—vote your values instead. Generations yet to be born are counting on us!
by Jennifer Minor, Editor/Writer
As spring turned to summer, it was time for the annual Pan-African Conference, hosted by Association for Life of Africa (AFLA). This year's event was held in Livingstone, Zambia—a fitting place for trail-blazing missionaries to meet.
Heartbeat International was on site, standing alongside our brothers and sisters for life in every corner of the globe.
This year's conference, "Breaking New Grounds in the Kingdom of God," included missionaries for life from 12 countries and was keynoted by former Heartbeat International board member, Rev. John Tabor.
The represented countries were Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Ecuador, Brazil, and the U.S.
"It's an exciting time for AFLA as we continue to grow and adapt," AFLA President Barbra Nalavwe Mwanza said to open the five-day conference. "We must remain always adaptable, motivated, responsive, and client-focused."
Topics of focus for the conference included, "Where is the Church and the Theology of Life?", "Abortion in Africa," "Counseling Toolbox," "Healing the Wounds," "The Boardmanship," "How to Start a Centre," Natural Family Planning, Sexual Integrity, and Fundraising. But Africa, as Barbra pointed out to lead off the conference, could not hope to solve these problems without addressing the underlying life-and-death issue of the sanctity of human life.
Heartbeat International Director of Marketing and Communications Debora R. Myles brought her expertise to the conference, presenting a keynote entitled, "The ABCs of Marketing with Emphasis on Websites," and a workshop called "Fundraising Essentials."
In addition to Myles and Rev. Tabor, Lorraine Gariboldi, author and founding member of Heartbeat International affiliate Life Center of Long Island, spoke at the event, drawing from her leadership experience in a three-location setting.
Find out more about Heartbeat's International partners here.
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.
Brian Fisher, president of Online for Life, joined Real Choices Pregnancy Medical Clinic Executive Director Mia Green on the stage of the Real Choices Spring Gala, announcing his organization's acquisition of the Grapevine, Texas-based pregnancy help center.
This new chapter of Online for Life's efforts has been super-charged with a $3.4 million gift that has transitioned the small volunteer effort to a large office staff, including statisticians, developers, and marketing experts.
Identifying as more than merely online marketing specialists, Fisher's announcement included his goal to increase Real Choices' "effective rate" in encounters with abortion-minded clients. Fisher noted that the practices Online for Life will refine in the Dallas-Fort Worth area will then be taken to the "super centers" in other major metropolitan areas, likely as future acquisitions, franchises, or start-ups.
Online for Life's most recent acquisition signals another local entity with plans to go regional/national, as Real Choices joins Women's Care Center (South Bend, IN), BirthChoice (Orange County, CA), Thrive! (St. Louis, MO), and Stanton Medical Clinic (Boise, ID) in promoting a common-brand/franchise model.
For more than a decade, our friends at Care Net have encouraged affiliates to utilize their national brand, which today numbers just over 140 locations. Meanwhile, Women's Care Center has experienced great success at spreading a true brand/franchise model across multiple states, with 22 locations in seven states.
Each of these brands follows in the footsteps of a key innovator of pregnancy help outreach – Birthright International. Birthright has nearly 300 individual pregnancy support service locations across North America (and a few in Africa as well) bearing its brand. Birthright, originally founded in Toronto, was part of the inspiration for Heartbeat International (then known as Alternatives to Abortion International), which began in 1971 to serve and strengthen the pregnancy help effort.
Difference of approach, philosophy, and focus has led both organizations to grow and develop along separate paths in the past four and a half decades. For the same reasons, it remains to be seen if one brand/franchise will eventually dominate the pregnancy help movement much in the same way as Planned Parenthood, a name that dominates the abortion market with a one-third share in the United States.
Evaluating the Franchise Approach
There are many strategic questions about a national brand/franchise. Online for Life's new "laboratory" center, Real Choices, plans to contribute great insight into "effective rates" that may serve other communities. But will what works in Texas translate to New York City or vice versa? Can processes that work in the Bible Belt leave the same footprint in the Pacific Northwest?
Further, is a monolithic brand an easier target for the opposition? NARAL continues to refer to pregnancy help ministries as "crisis pregnancy centers," a common term from an era before the Internet, the late 1980's. The billion-dollar abortion industry, unrestrained by our "best practices," would likely relish the thought of marshaling their powerful political and media allies on an obviously connected, monochromatic brand.
Yet Planned Parenthood has made its brand work for the better part of the past century... Until recently, that is, in the wake of concentrated scrutiny by conservative state legislators and a small, gutsy group of undercover investigators from Live Action, led by Lila Rose. Alliance Defending Freedom is now leading a specific effort to topple Planned Parenthood's brand image, exposing it for what it really is. Such efforts on various pro-life fronts have damaged Planned Parenthood's single brand, especially in conservative states.
Moving Forward in Confidence
Whether or not a single brand is in your pregnancy help organization's future, what is most important is that we continue to be sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit. The Lord is constantly moving us as His people, toward the Promised Land. This calls us, each day, to learn to be more effective in who, where, and how we serve.
Brand us, hopeful that the Lord, in His wisdom and power, will guide each and every organization and leader.
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