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.”
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 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, if you are in Wisconsin, you should mention the Jane’s Revenge threat to law enforcement if your pregnancy center contacts them for help with protesters or vandalism. Even if you are not in Wisconsin, explaining the current climate with the Dobbs decision and the vandalism in Wisconsin may be beneficial in keeping local law enforcement apprised should a need arise in the future.
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:
If your center offers medical services, 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 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.
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.”
The reality that the Roe v. Wade decision may be overturned, pushing the abortion discussion back to the individual states, has mixed emotions nationwide. The rage has also ignited actions against pregnancy help centers. We’ve received multiple reports of protests at local PHCs and even vandalism, including the 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
After all, we have been helping women overcome the obstacles that force them into the profiteering practice of abortion for the nearly fifty years 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 in 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.
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 Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International President
God pulled off some pretty cool judo. Did you catch it?
Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS for short, handed down a 5-4 victory in the NIFLA v. Becerra case. If you’re not familiar, the case was a challenge to the government over-reach of a California State Assembly law (AB775) in favor of free speech by local, non-profit, pregnancy help centers. The law had a carefully twisted criteria that singled out these pro-lifers to compel them, among other things, to advocate abortion access provided by the State of California.
The decision itself was an answer to prayer – and there had been lots of prayer about the law and in particular as it was being heard and decided at the Supreme Court. Certainly God was in that, as it affirmed His value for championing His Gift of Life. The judo comes in when we step back and look at the whole story from the beginning of the journey to the victorious ruling at the highest court in our land (SCOTUS).
The original draft of the bill, AB 775, that would become the law that would be challenged, did not arise just from a concerned California elected official. The original draft came from none other than Big Abortion itself. NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and their ilk leveraged their political muscle by planting the framework for this bill with one of their elected lackeys. The party of abortion that dominates the California political landscape voted favorably with their Governor Brown making it official. Finally, in their minds, the pregnancy help centers would have to fall in line with their abortion agenda through the might of their government power.
Fortunately, the California pregnancy centers didn’t buckle to this raw abuse of government power. The majority refused to comply pending the outcome of the NIFLA lawsuit. A few were bullied into compliance by the zealous Los Angeles County attorney who, seemingly, has little better to do than threaten pro-lifers trying to help women make the healthiest choice for their baby.
A fundamental principle of judo is to defend against attacks by using the strength and momentum of the attacker. The insistence of Big Abortion to use government to do its bidding was the very strength and momentum that God used to defeat them. Instead of codifying their allegations against pregnancy centers and compelling each to convey their pro-abortion message, the result of their efforts is to have the free speech and right of conscience confirmed by the highest court in the land! Other states (Hawaii, Connecticut, and Illinois, for example) that folowed California's lead can expect to watch similar laws fall like dominoes after the decision this week. In fact, we've already seen progress in the City of Hartford, Connecticut where Hartford Women's Center is breathing a sigh of relief.
This echoes from what Joseph understood (Genesis 50:20), “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” There’s the judo! God turned the narrow (California) legislative attack to a national (all of the U.S.A.) affirmation of pregnancy help centers.
But that’s not all. Through NIFLA v. Becerra, more and more people are hearing about the good work of pregnancy help centers. Lawyers will cite this case for their own free speech battles. Young attorneys-in-training will learn about this case in law school. Multiple media outlets – secular and religious – have been highlighting the conflict between free speech and conscience and the State of California’s overreach. In the process, they’ve conveyed the life-affirming work of PHCs to hundreds of thousands, maybe over time millions, who would never have heard otherwise.
Thank you, God, for the masterful judo lesson. (Understanding that judo was only invented in the 1800s and you’ve exercised the principle philosophy for a lot longer than that.)
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
In Illinois, Senate Bill 1564 is raising more than a little concern for pregnancy help organizations. Americans United for Life, in its press release opposing the bill, points out that under SB1564, PHOs would be forced to "participate in potentially conscience-violating services by requiring the provider to refer or transfer a patient or provide information to the patient regarding other healthcare providers who the provider reasonably believes offer the objected-to healthcare service."
Further, Americans United for Life reminds us the bill would force pregnancy help organizations to inform patients of "legal treatment options" and of the "benefits of legal treatment options."
Bad news, right? Of course. Once again, PHOs face a battle of conscience, ethics and government intrusion into our work.
Yet there is good news.
Looking at the larger picture, let's ask, "Why the attack?"
Tweet this! Looking at the larger picture, let's ask, "Why the attack?" @KirkWalden @PHC_News
The abortion industry may have an agenda that is diametrically opposed to life, but those in the industry are not stupid. They know a threat when they see it. We are that threat, because we shine the light of truth on abortion; on what abortion entails and on the miracle of every human life.
When those who come in our doors see that truth, they choose life far more often than not.
This is the "why" behind this bill. The abortion industry is nervous; their cash cow is being challenged. While we will never see the financial spreadsheets of the industry, all we need to see is what they do. And the industry's tactics tell us all is not right for Big Abortion.
Tweet this! The abortion industry is nervous; their cash cow is being challenged. @KirkWalden @PHC_News
So, they attack. In this case, the attack appears in the deep recesses of a bill being moving through an Illinois Senate committee.
While this bill presents another challenge for all of us, it is also a cause for renewed determination. Through love, through truth and through hope, we are advancing a culture of life. We must be taking ground, or those who oppose us would not be fighting so hard to stop us.
Today then, take heart. When one of us (or in this case, an entire state of PHOs) is attacked, it is yet another reminder that we are moving forward. Life is winning again. If we don't believe it, let's take a look at those who oppose us. Their actions tell us all we need to know.
Tweet This: "We exist to empower a woman with true choice. That's why @naral attacks us." @PeggyHartshorn
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Responding to a report released Monday by abortion advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America, Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., pointed to what she calls the fundamental difference between “true” and “false” reproductive health.
NARAL’s report, “Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie: The Insidious Threat To Reproductive Freedom,” represents several years of opposition to the 2,500 pregnancy help organizations operating independently in the United States, most of whom are fully funded by local and private donors.
In its 24 pages, NARAL’s report features 107 citations. However, 92 of those (86 percent total) come from its state and local chapters, and eight more are from Planned Parenthood’s research arm, The Guttmacher Institute.
“The sole purpose of every pregnancy help organization is to provide the love and support every woman deserves in an unexpected pregnancy,” Hartshorn said. “We exist to empower a woman to make the healthiest choice for all involved. That is why NARAL attacks us with these false and flimsy allegations.”
Hartshorn, who attended the Diocesan Family and Life Congress in Manilla over the past weekend and trained Heartbeat International joint affiliation partners serving throughout the Philippines, pointed to the good work of pregnancy help organizations, both in the U.S. and all over the world.
She is author of Heartbeat International’s top-selling volunteer training resource, The LOVE Approach—first published in 1994—which teaches a truly woman-centered approach.
“No woman should ever feel so alone, coerced, or hopeless that she ends her child’s life through abortion,” Hartshorn said. “That’s why, in every corner of the globe, Heartbeat International affiliates and others provide all the facts about pregnancy—including the baby’s development and the many serious physical and psychological dangers of abortion.”
“This report is an attack on the truth and true reproductive freedom. Only a fully informed choice can be a true choice.”
Tweet This: "This report is an attack on true reproductive freedom." @PeggyHartshorn
by Susan Dammann, RN, LAS, Medical Specialist
As we examine the symptoms exposed in the recent report unveiling the state chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice America colluding with Maryland government officials, a diagnosis becomes quite clear. This legal effort to shut down a local pro-life pregnancy care center, along with a seven-part plan developed by NARAL to shut down pregnancy help organizations across the country, reveal an infection with the intention to spread.
Miriam Webster defines diagnosis as"the act of identifying a disease, illness, or problem by examining someone or something."
First, there is definitely a primary source of infection, still seemingly localized, and the infection's focal point is limited to a small segment of the population. In 2010 when "Montgomery County passed an ordinance requiring Centro Tepeyac Silver Spring Women's Center and other pro-life pregnancy care clinics to post signs stating that they did not have doctors on staff," the outbreak was cured by three court decisions against the ordinance.
"Judge Deborah Chasanow, a Clinton appointee, noted that the people who accused the centers of spreading 'misinformation' were 'universally volunteers from a pro-choice organization sent to investigate practices' at the centers."
[Read Heartbeat President Peggy Hartshorn’s Op-Ed at LifeSiteNews.com here.]
When we learn of such outbreaks it is common to wonder if this will erupt into an epidemic or pandemic. Then we wonder how we can immunize ourselves from being attacked by the same germs.
The very best way to inoculate ourselves is to do just as they have already given us credit for doing!
The County responded to NARAL with the following statement: "I doubt my colleagues or the County Attorney will be interested in pursuing a truth-in-advertising statute...[these centers] are clearly very artful at devising strategies to avoid violating the law." Strategies to avoid violating the law simply put, means we obey the law and they recognize it. Your best immunization plan is to keep up your mission and the excellence with which you always work. You can always take your organization's vital signs by checking up on our Commitment of Care and Competence.
It would be a misdiagnosis if we thought we could treat these germs by pregnancy help organizations hiring doctors and nurses, putting in state of the art equipment and following all the best practices so that they will approve of us and stop the attacks. We have done just that and they are still manipulating women with lies and misleading information.
True choice and excellent healthcare for women are not their goal. The accurate diagnosis is that the abortion industry has a goal of permanently eliminating pregnancy centers because we are undermining their bottom line of profit.
Keep in mind that we do not live in a sterile environment and that germs abound. We can expect that by making inroads to bring health and wholeness into our world, there may be attacks. This is to be expected, but not feared. God even tells us in His Word that we may suffer for the sake of righteousness, but we are blessed.
"But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled." 1 Peter 3:14 NASB
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President
You are hated. Get used to it. Jesus knew it would be so when He said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." John 15:18 (NIV)
What NARAL really thinks about you – okay, well maybe not you, individually, but what you do and what you are about, confirms something we've long suspected. They are hell-bent to do whatever they can to diminish your effectiveness, even when you're operating under "best practices."
In the words of the NARAL attorney "...It does not matter if [crisis pregnancy centers] hire doctors or house state-of-the-art equipment: they are still manipulating women with lies and misleading information." This supports our long held understanding that no amount of "medicalization" will steer them from their attack. NARAL defiantly admit that medical services "conveys a seal of approval that we never want to be complicit in allowing [crisis pregnancy centers] to claim." (Emphasis added.)
So, in effect, they will never admit that the good medical practices you deploy will be enough. Ever. At all. Because they simply can't allow that kind of "seal of approval" for what you do.
After a focused effort utilizing taxpayer funds, even the County (meaning the government guy) divulges , "I doubt my colleagues or the County Attorney will be interested in pursuing a truth-in-advertising statute...[these centers] are clearly very artful at devising strategies to avoid violating the law."
What was that? Oh, that's political speak for "they are following the law."
But wait there's more. Don't miss it.
NARAL goes on to encourage the County to drop their current legal attack in favor of a list of other ways they intend to attack PHOs.
[Read about NARAL and Montgomery County's planned attack on pregnancy help organizations here.]
Let's be clear. While in the midst of an orchestrated attack that is failing, they point to other attacks that they feel might work.
Tweet this! We need to understand that NARAL's new attack list is not fool-proof.
We need to understand that NARAL's new attack list is not fool-proof. The NARAL-inspired local ordinance attack waged on several fronts - Montgomery County, City of Baltimore, State of Maryland, NYC, Austin, etc. - have not survived legal scrutiny.
Certainly, NARAL's attack strategies reminds us to sharpen our policy and procedure, retrain on key practices and remain vigilant about upholding our Commitment of Care and Competence. But let us be careful not to over-react to them or over-state the threat to PHOs. Just like Jesus forging ahead in His mission despite the world hating him, we need to have confidence in our mission and our Master.
In addition, this whole episode reminds us not to be afraid of lawsuits. As is often the case in God's economy, He turned the attack against the attacker of God's people. Their own lawsuit to denigrate the work of PHOs resulted in revealing the failing of their strategy and the wonderful news that we know how "to avoid violating the law" (meaning we are doing things lawfully).
For more about why NARAL hates PHOs, read Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn's article on LifeSiteNews.com.
The recent news out of Maryland—and the Centro Tepeyac Silver Spring Women's Center—sends us a strong message: Pregnancy Help Organizations are becoming much more effective, and those who wish to protect abortion-on-demand at all costs are getting frantic.
LifeSite News covered the story. In short, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland worked with the Montgomery County Council to create a 2010 law forcing Centro Tepeyac to post signs declaring when medical personnel were not on site. The law of course, was designed to slow down; even stop, Centro Tepeyac from reaching out to women.
The good news? After four years of fighting, Centro Tepeyac won. Big.
At different stages, three judges struck down the law, with the final ruling coming from a Bill Clinton-appointed judge who fined Montgomery County $375,000 for violating the rights of Centro Tepeyac.
NARAL's president in Maryland didn't give up however, and private emails show both she and the president of the Montgomery County council attempting to collude on other ways to shut down Centro Tepeyac.
What does this tell us? The abortion lobby and its clinics are afraid. They are losing business while pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics are gaining ground. (Check out Peggy Hartshorn's argument to that effect here.)
In essence, just like Nehemiah built a wall of hope for the people of Israel in the Old Testament, we are building a pro-life Wall of Hope today, and just like Nehemiah, opposition is everywhere, trying every tactic imaginable.
Our modern day Wall of Hope is composed of thousands of pregnancy help organizations and ministries, places where moms, dads and children can come for safety, away from the deception of the abortion industry.
Tweet this: The Maryland case leaves no doubt – our Wall is rising.
Nehemiah faced incredible opposition, just as we do. Men like Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were constant thorns of criticism, mocking, and scorn. They tried every avenue to shut down the work on a wall that would protect the Jewish people.
Nehemiah would have none of it. At one point Nehemiah was asked to come down off of the wall for a "meeting" with his enemies. Nehemiah knew the meeting was nothing but a plot to kill him, so he gave his detractors a terse response: "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?" (Neh 6:3)
We—all of us in the pregnancy help community—are involved in a great work. The detractors will continue with their lobbying, their public relations campaigns against us, and their collusion with politicians to enact laws to stop us.
But friends, we are building a Wall of Hope. We will not come down off of our wall until we are finished.
And if the news out of Maryland is any indication, we may be closer to completing our Wall of Hope than we can imagine.
Get Kirk's new book, The Wall at amazon.com today!
At a time when our social and political structure is aligned against the most innocent among us, The Wall brings tremendous hope and vision. Though we’ve experienced a generation of tragedy following the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, The Wall reminds us that it is often when hope seems lost that God orchestrates extraordinary victory through ordinary people. In addition, The Wall shows that surprisingly, today is the perfect time for creating a new culture of life in America. Get ready to be inspired; and be prepared to take your place building The Wall.
"This is one more evidence that pregnancy help organizations are winning the battle for life."
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Responding to a report from LifeSiteNews.com uncovering an ongoing plan between the Maryland chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the public officials in Montgomery County, Md., to impede or eliminate pregnancy help organizations, Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., pointed to the success of pregnancy centers in her companion article at LifeSiteNews.com.
Read LifeSiteNews.com Report Here: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/exclusive-e-mails-reveal-maryland-officials-collaborating-with-naral-to-shu Read Peggy Hartshorn’s Response Here: https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/why-do-abortionists-go-to-such-lengths-to-eliminate-us-because-we-threaten
“Heartbeat International and our worldwide network of life-affirming organizations believe no mother should feel so alone, so vulnerable, or so coerced that she ends her child’s life through abortion,” Hartshorn, who has served as Heartbeat International’s President since 1993, wrote. “These vital organizations enable a mother to make a true choice through a variety of services, including ultrasound, options counseling, maternity housing, and the ability to make an adoption plan.”
“And this is why we pose such a threat to NARAL and company. It’s not just that we are their competition. It’s that we are winning.”
Hartshorn’s comments come in the wake of the publication of an email string dating back as far as 2009, obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, which capture ongoing strategy between Maryland’s NARAL chapter president Jodi Finkelstein and current Montgomery County Council president George Leventhal.
The pair discussed the County’s ongoing strategy to compel government speech from Heartbeat International affiliate Centro Tepeyac Silver Spring Women’s Center. Montgomery County first passed a city ordinance Feb. 2, 2010 requiring, “limited service pregnancy resource centers” – any facility that does not perform abortions – to post a sign in English and Spanish in its waiting room saying that “the Center does not have a licensed medical professional on staff” and that “the Montgomery County Health Officer encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed health care provider.”
A lawsuit brought by Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of Centro Tepeyac resulted in three separate court victories, which finally resulted in the County dropping its unconstitutional ordinance and paying Centro Tepeyac $375,000 in legal fees.
“Pregnancy help organizations like Centro Tepeyac exist so that every mother can feel loved and supported during her pregnancy,” Hartshorn said. “The only opponents to this mission are those who, like NARAL, stand to gain financially and ideologically by the intentional killing of a child within the womb.”
Tweet This: Pregnancy help organizations exist so that every mother can feel loved and supported during pregnancy.
By Jeanneane Maxon, Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Counsel, Americans United for Life
Attacks against pregnancy centers across the country have been widespread, and many of you have personally experienced them. In recent years, over a dozen states and localities have considered legislation promoted by NARAL designed to drive clients away from pregnancy centers and the life-saving help you provide.
Such bills typically include ridiculous requirements, such as disclaimers like, "This center is not required to provide you factually accurate information." In many instances, centers would be required to include such inaccurate and burdensome disclaimers in all client advertising, sometimes in 24 point font, and in Washington State, in five languages including Laotian.
If this sounds absurd to you, you are not alone. Every court that has had to consider such legislation has found it to be not only absurd, but unconstitutional. In fact, just this year, a court found an anti-pregnancy center ordinance imposed by Montgomery County, Maryland to be so inappropriate that it ordered the county to pay $375,000 in attorney's fees, costs, and nominal damages to the plaintiff pregnancy center.
Although they have been successful, efforts to defend pregnancy centers have cost time, energy and critical focus away from the women you serve. As Christian ministries, pregnancy centers should be strategic and prepared to defend themselves in the most efficient ways possible. We are called to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16. Proactive efforts, therefore, should be bathed in prayer and approached with strategic steps to make victory come easier.
As one strategy to shield these attacks, Americans United for Life (AUL) drafted a Joint Resolution Honoring the Work of Pregnancy Resource Centers which provides state legislators, as well as county and city officials, an opportunity to praise pregnancy centers. In 2010, following the launch of state-based attacks in Oregon, AUL published this resolution and began working for its passage.
To date, 23 Pregnancy Center Resolutions have been passed in 17 states (some states passed the resolution in multiple years) including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska (by way of a "proclamation"), New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Currently a resolution is also under consideration in Ohio.
As a first benefit, the resolution gives PRCs the ability to publicly highlight the work they do for their community. When a resolution passes, pregnancy center directors and volunteers are often invited to the statehouse and photographed with the Governor and/or significant government leaders. Additionally, many states also provide copies of the resolution for the center suitable for framing and display. Such an endorsement adds credibility in the minds of donors, clients and other influencers.
Additionally, when pregnancy centers are praised by a state or representative body of the people, the attacks on pregnancy centers lose credibility. For example, in 2010, Virginia legislators were so appalled by harassment NARAL inflicted on pregnancy centers through hostile legislation attempts, that they not only refused to enact NARAL's legislation, but turned around and passed the resolution praising the centers two weeks later.
Likewise, West Virginia has been on the forefront supporting the work of their pregnancy centers by way of a resolution. This state has consistently honored pregnancy centers every year since 2011. In 2012, the resolution became particularly meaningful when a hostile state legislator inappropriately wrote a letter to all the pregnancy centers demanding they supply him with confidential center files for a make-shift unofficial "investigation."
The pregnancy centers were able to respond simply by reminding this official that both the West Virginia House of Representatives and Senate had passed the resolution praising pregnancy centers for their outstanding service to the State and their communities. Presumably in embarrassment, the legislator stopped his harassment campaign and nothing more has been heard from him.
The impact of these resolutions is so profound that Heartbeat International and AUL believe that every pregnancy center should have a resolution passed in their state.
We can assist pregnancy centers in doing so. Pregnancy Center Action kits (with tools and instruction on passing the resolution) will be available to pregnancy centers in February, and the resolution and its corresponding policy guide is currently available at http://www.aul.org/legislative-resources/order-model-legislation/ (select Joint Resolution Honoring Pregnancy Resource Centers), or by contacting AUL at 202-741-4901.
We are privileged to stand by pregnancy centers that are doing the frontline work of helping women choose Life for themselves and their unborn children. We pray that this work carries on, uninhibited, until all are welcomed in life and protected in law.
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