“Because Defendants have failed to demonstrate an actual problem in need of solving, it is unnecessary to reach the narrow tailoring prong of the strict scrutiny test.”1
Those are the words footnoted on the last page of last Friday’s opinion by Judge Deborah Chasanow in the case Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County, et al., Case 8:10-cv-01259 (D. Maryland 3/7/2014).
Imagine that… Montgomery County was unable to demonstrate to the Court that pregnancy help centers pose a problem in need of solving. What’s just as telling is what the Court also stated in the body of the opinion:
Quite simply, the County has put no evidence into the record to demonstrate that [limited service pregnancy resource centers’] failure clearly to state that no doctors are on premises has led to any negative health outcomes. Id., at 52.
The County, in the words of the pregnancy help centers, was searching for a problem to fit their Resolution (Id., at 42). The problem with the County’s problem, however, is that in the end, Montgomery County’s pregnancy centers don’t actually pose a problem to the County’s residents.
The case before the Court was a Resolution attempting to force Montgomery County’s pregnancy help centers, including Heartbeat affiliate Centro Tepeyac, to make specific disclosures stating what services they did—and did not offer.
The Resolution, Number 16-1252, originally passed Feb. 2, 2010, and required Montgomery County pregnancy help centers to post notices in specific languages and in specific locations on-site. The notices were to state that licensed medical professionals were not on the premises and that the County recommended pregnant women see a physician for a medical diagnosis of pregnancy.
Represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, Centro Tepeyac challenged the Resolution on the grounds that it violated the freedoms guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Now several years into the process, Judge Chasanow, a District of Maryland justice, clearly and cogently determined that the Resolution imposed an unconstitutional burden on the rights guaranteed to centers.
The opinion, issued Friday, March 7, 2014, was actually the District Court’s revisit to the Resolution, which was most recently reviewed July 2013 in a decision by the 4th Circuit.
Throughout its long and convoluted procedural journey, the Resolution has been analyzed and reanalyzed. The flow of the County’s argument was as follows:
In Friday’s ruling, Judge Chasanow found that the County did indeed demonstrate a compelling interest in protecting the health of women (point 1 above). The Court also assumed, for the sake of argument, that the pregnancy help centers did not make any of the statements required to be made (points 2).
However, the flaw in the County’s argument, the Court reasoned, was between points 2 and 3, where the County failed to demonstrate the connection between the pregnancy help centers’ actions (or assumed inactions) and any evidence-based harm to pregnant women.
Commenting on the County’s evidence, the Court stated:
The County attempts to elide this distinction by providing no evidence for the effect, only the alleged cause. The Waxman and NARAL reports focus on the misinformation problem. So too do all of the comments made to the County Council in support of the Resolution. These commenters – who were universally volunteers from a pro-choice organization sent to investigate LSPRCs’ practices – discussed the alleged misinformation they were provided and that that the LSPRCs were not forthcoming with the fact that they are not a medical center and that they do not provide referrals for abortions. But even assuming all that is true - that LSPRC are presenting themselves as medical providers and thus pregnant women are accepting their misinformation as sound medical advice, the County must still demonstrate the next supposition on the logical chain: that these practices are having the effect of harming the health of pregnant women. The County has failed this task.
With the County’s failure to connect the link at the earlier points, the Court never had to consider the analysis of whether the County’s Resolution passed the strict scrutiny least restrictive means test typically employed by the United States Supreme Court in such cases.
This case is a clear victory for pregnancy help centers, not only in Maryland, but across the nation.
The Court attacks the very heart of the evidence, its legitimacy and its sources. Further, the Court logically and reasonably requires the County to demonstrate in court what it should have considered at the legislative level: Does the (mis)information justify the legislation?
Though the case is likely to be appealed by the County, the strength and logic of the decision should serve as a guide for other judges considering such legislation.
Stay tuned, but in the meantime, congratulations to the Montgomery County pregnancy help centers, Alliance Defending Freedom, and the other attorneys representing and standing for life.
by Ellen Foell, Legal Counsel
1. Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County, et al.Case 8:10-cv-01259 (D. Maryland 3/7/2014)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (9/19/08) – The President’s Volunteer Service Award was conferred on 32 Heartbeat International affiliated pregnancy resource centers and 55 volunteers who serve Heartbeat affiliated centers on September 19, 2008. Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Joxel Garcia, M.D., M.B.A., bestowed the honors on Heartbeat’s affiliates and volunteers for the significant contributions they have made to their communities.
“Heartbeat International is an effective network of more than 1,000 faith-based community organizations aided by more than 25,000 volunteers. We are thrilled to see our volunteers honored by the Administration,” said Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D. “We are very proud to carry on the American tradition of volunteerism and community service especially in a way that helps women and strengthens families.”
In concert with the White House USA Freedom Corps, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Public Health and Science honored 150 “exemplary volunteers” who serve pregnancy centers around the country along with 56 pregnancy resource centers at a White House ceremony on September 19, 2008. Pregnancy center representatives and volunteers participated in the White House awards ceremony from 10 am-noon in the Indian Treaty room of the Old Executive Office Building connected to the White House.
“Uplifting the lives of women and families around the world is Heartbeat’s mission. We are compassionate people and passionate for life. If you feel called to give back to your community and want to volunteer you can visit http://www.pregnancycenters.org/" data-mce-href="http://heartbeatinternational.org/eNewsletter/2008/enews_Annual_Review-4-08-full.htm">PregnancyCenters.org and use the center locator system to find your local pregnancy center,” said Hartshorn. “Pregnancy center volunteers include doctors, lawyers, nurses, concerned parents, social workers, educators, and many others. They provide healthy alternatives to abortion for girls and women faced with an untimely pregnancy. Many of our volunteers have had personal experience with an unplanned pregnancy, adoption, and abortion.”
“These volunteers have spent countless hours serving the most vulnerable among us. Their efforts deserve recognition and our deepest appreciation,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Joxel Garcia, M.D., M.P.H.. “Their services provide these women and their babies the opportunity for a healthier beginning.”
“Today, we recognize the service of these volunteers who are lifting lives and impacting their communities and our country for good,” said Alison Young, acting director of USA Freedom Corps, an initiative to help Americans connect with volunteer opportunities at home and abroad. “As they serve women in need, they spread the very best of the compassionate volunteer spirit that keeps America strong.”
For more information about the President’s Service Award, visit http://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/" data-mce-href="http://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov/">PresidentialServiceAwards.gov.
Click here for interview with Dr. Ann Moell, Medical Director of Elizabeth’s New Life Center, Heartbeat affiliate in Dayton, Ohio. Ann was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Our Lady’s Inn, in St. Louis, Missouri, continues to plant the seeds of sexual wholeness as a core part of the center’s ministry.
Says Gloria Lee, Executive Director of Our Lady’s Inn, “Our nurse, Helen, does Heartbeat’s Sexual Integrity™ program with all of our women. One of them had been taught that you don’t have sex with someone unless you are going to get something in exchange, such as rent money, food, diapers, etc. This client came to the realization that what she was doing was basically prostitution in viewing sex in this way. She felt terrible about it but kept saying to herself, ‘This is what I was taught.’”
The client vowed, “I am not going to use birth control because I don’t want to be tempted to just have sex for the wrong reasons,” when she returned home from the hospital following the recent birth of her baby.
Gloria asks that we pray for Our Lady’s Inn’s ministry, “That we can continue to plant seeds that will come to fruition in the lives of all the women who come to Our Lady’s Inn.”
By Jor-El Godsey
Remember when calling a center “Crisis Pregnancy Center” represented a widely accepted “best practice”?
Best practices, as defined at BusinessDictionary.com, are “methods and techniques that have consistently shown results superior than those achieved with other means, and which are used as benchmarks to strive for.” PRC’s have adopted varied practices over the years. Some flowed from moral or ethical considerations, others were informed by results or intuition. Hopefully, positive results followed all these practices. But have all these practices been subjected to rigorous comparison to “other means”? That is a critical step to specifically defining a best practice.
Any packaged “best practice” should be evaluated in light of the overall mission. This should include understanding the client who is the mission’s target, as well as the vision of the organization and its own definition of success. Variations between organizations, even programs within organizations, suggest that some, perhaps, many practices can’t be applied in the same way from organization to organization with the same effectiveness.
Best practice is more often a high-sounding buzzword for promotional material than an objective, empirical reality. It’s vital to analyze the foundation of any claim involving a best practice. For example in focus testing of the name “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” our target clients’ responses were weak. As a result, the term “crisis” has largely been eliminated from elements of client marketing in favor of new language with broader appeal.
Practices can certainly be good, effective, productive, healthy and even excellent. In time, these may even prove to be best! Until that time, some practices are really just common sense, conventional wisdom, and even basic standards.
By Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat Vice-President, Ministry Services
From Take Heart | Vol. 2, Issue 6
The water cooler is long gone. Paper plates, plastic-ware, coffee and creamer are strictly by contribution only. Even the birthday cakes for Heartbeat staff have been reduced to a simple card and a group sing. (Seriously, picture a dozen people standing near your desk belting out the familiar tune!) Expenses for office supplies have been cut dramatically. Many such ideas came from staff brain-storming sessions during some very lean months.
Cost-cutting measures for Heartbeat turned really serious beginning with the summer of 2008. The pregnancy help movement felt the economic downturn earlier than most non-profits. As you well know, cost cutting is hard to do when you’re a non-profit and already operating on somewhat of a shoestring. We took even more stringent measures. We trimmed budgeted expenses, reduced benefits, and the whole staff even took two sacrificial, week-long furloughs.
While cutting expenses dramatically, we also put the word out that we needed help. The first and (fortunately) only emergency plea for funds went out to donors and affiliates alike. In addition, special, one-on-one asks to major donors helped us close the gap between income and outflow. As we began to understand the extent of the crisis we took an additional step...
Two years of fasting and praying. . . Boy are we hungry!
Yep, you read that right. Fasting for two years! Well okay, it wasn’t every single day for two years. Actually, it wasn’t even every week. But one day each month since July of 2008, the Heartbeat staff has set aside a day of fasting with specific times throughout that day to gather in prayer for the needs of Heartbeat. Okay, that’s not nearly as impressive sounding as fasting for two years, but still that’s how long we’ve been practicing the discipline as a staff. (Fasting is optional, but almost everyone fasts on our special day. Even board members, intercessors and other close friends join us.)
Prayer is hardly foreign to us at Heartbeat. We gather each and every day around 9:15 a.m. to pray for our affiliates, staff needs, upcoming events, faithful and generous donors, our partners and the mission and pregnancy help movement. So, if you’re calling our office between 9:15 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., you might not reach us directly because we’ve gathered to pray. It’s not mandatory but everyone’s usually there if they can be.
Setting a specific time to fast and pray clearly has been vital in getting us through some tough times. Focusing on God in the midst of our crisis and working diligently to do what we could saw us through a very difficult time. In the waning hours of 2008, we watched the Lord work a miracle where the year-end giving closed the year’s expense gap! In gratitude, we rejoiced! We partied! And then we went to work implementing our newer, leaner budget for 2009.
I’m glad to report that in 2009 we finished in the black. In 2010, things are challenging but not at crisis level. God is faithful. And we’ve continued to fast and pray one day each month. And yes, we’re hungry. Hungry for God as He leads and provides for the mission and vision that He’s firmly planted in our hearts.
Prayer helped us in many ways cope with the crisis we experienced. Prayer served to calm our fears and to put our trust in the best source – God. Prayer helped us unite as a staff even as we faced significant threats to our work and vocation. Prayer helped us not to get “mean” even as we were getting lean.
So take heart in your situation. Set aside time to pray. Consider a time of fasting. Always remember to look upward as well as inward in any time of crisis.
Back to Take Heart | Vol. 2, Issue 6
You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.
But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is,
Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ's followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ (Ephesians 4:4-13 The Message).
It is awe inspiring to think about how this scripture points out how much we have in common and how we are so much better together. We are not to be a threat to each other. But what a threat we can be to the Father of Lies when we are united in heart and purpose!
Each of us has but one Master who has given us many gifts and callings. What a blessing and an honor to grant each other the freedom to be who God made us to be, to develop our talents in ministry, and to recognize the calling on each other’s lives.
Today you have a choice. You can look around and feel threatened or insecure about your position or future in ministry or you can bless and acknowledge those around you who have the same heart, who serve the same God, who are part of the same body, who desire, like you, to be fully alive in Christ. We are better together because this is God’s idea and He desires unity for us and with us.
by Peggy Hartshorn, Heartbeat International, President(from Take Heart Volume 2, Issue 2)
I’m excited to share with you our encouraging news “fresh from Washington, D.C.”! I spent almost a week in our nation’s capital for meetings with national pro-life leaders, for the annual March for Life, and for our Babies Go To Congress™ (BGTC) event. What a magnificent week! Click here for a quick picture album of our March for Life team.
First, our BGTC was full of glory. We took several Heartbeat affiliates and their clients with babies – five Heartbeat teams totaling 27 people – to meet with to key Congressional representatives in 23 offices. We delivered the message that “pregnancy centers are good for America.” And our mothers were able to tell their stories as well and present to their elected officials a copy of the powerful report A Passion to Serve, A Vision for Life (researched by Family Research Council with the help of Heartbeat and other organizations in our movement). Walking the halls of Congress with our affiliates, mothers, and babies, was an honor and blessing for me personally.
Ripples, turning into currents, as a result of this trip will be many! Here are excerpts from a thank you letter to Heartbeat from just one of our mothers who came with her husband and baby:
“I wanted to thank you and Heartbeat International for the love and commitment to healthy babies and families you showed to me and every lady in attendance (and the thousands of others that benefit from all that Heartbeat does). I personally praise God for you!
Anthony and I experienced so much while in Washington, DC, I am still processing/taking all of it in… I am a counseling student and I will be obtaining my School Counselor Certification. After my professors heard of my pending trip and involvement in BGTC, they advised me to submit a proposal to present at this year's Illinois School Counselor Association Annual Conference… School Counselors in Chicago need to be able to "Connect the Dots" and know about community resources that their students may need.
I must share that before coming to Washington, DC I was not 100% committed to the pro-life movement. Although I do not believe in abortion and would never advise or financially back someone in their decision to get an abortion, I just was not comfortable in completely taking that right away from women either. However, I was challenged to really think about not only what I believe but WHO I believe in.”
I would estimate that about 350,000-400,000 people came to Washington for the March this year, probably the largest in recent history. Perhaps 50 percent of the Marchers were young people. A Washington Post columnist went to the March thinking he would see a “quaint” gathering with a hopeless cause. He admitted his surprise when he found otherwise! An excellent column by Cal Thomas (January 27), highlights the youth pro-life movement, and mentions TWICE the role of our pregnancy centers: “Thousands of pregnancy centers are winning a new generation to their views.”
I hope that each of you will experience in 2010 the personal “refreshment” I experienced during this intensely pro-pregnancy center week, feeling the Hand of God at work in the halls of Congress and at the March for Life. Clearly, our united labor, gifts, prayers, and strategic initiatives are winning our fellow Americans over to the truth and goodness of our Cause.
Learn more about BGTC at HeartbeatInternational.org.
Return to Take Heart Volume 2, Issue 2.
When Mike and Dinah Monahan left for a Mission trip to Ethiopia, little did they know that God was starting them on an unimaginable journey.
Mike, who runs the family pro-life business, Heritage House 76, and Dinah, who had recently retired from her role of founding and leading Living Hope Women’s Centers and Hope House Maternity Home in Arizona, were headed to Ethiopia to visit orphanages and street children’s homes run by YWAM (Youth With a Mission.) They even questioned why they were going. But God knew.
After a difficult 15 hour journey through the interior of Ethiopia, their hearts were moved by the precious orphans they met, but they were shaken by the stories they heard of unwed mothers, many of whom were working as domestic servants and were raped by a stranger or their employer. In that culture, if a girl has a baby outside of marriage most likely no man will ever marry her.
Regardless of whether they are victims of rape or incest, they are often cast out of their homes and livelihood to survive on their own. Young women rarely attend school since schooling is neither free nor mandatory,
“There is a razor thin line between survival and starvation in this country,” says Dinah.
Confronted with all this misery, Dinah and Mike were convinced that God was calling them to action. But what? How? Then God began to open unexpected doors. By walking through them, in faith, they eventually realized they were called to open a maternity home in Ethiopia. Through the YWAM staff, they were introduced to Meseret Seyoum, a college educated Ethiopian Christian woman with years of experience Non-Government Organizations.
Two years earlier, Meseret began feeling called by God to start helping the women and children in her country. And now He provided this connection to the Monahans. Other key connections followed, Ebise Berri as accountant and Muluwork Tefera as nurse. Barbara Mwansa, Heartbeat affiliate in Zambia (Silent Voices), provided the training needed to start the home.
Just eight months later, Living Hope Ministries in Adama, Ethiopia opened as the first maternity home in Ethiopia. It offers security, shelter, love, education, healthy food, and training in job skills that the twenty residents will need to survive. Each woman learns jewelry making, sewing, and other skills that make it possible for her to start a small business and provide for herself and her child.
Says Dinah, “I am in awe of what God is doing here. We couldn’t have kicked the doors down that God has so graciously opened. This isn’t what I expected from retirement…it’s way better!”
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President
I have personally stared into the crematorium at Auschwitz.
It’s a somber and sobering experience even to begin to try to digest the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis a little more than six decades ago. There are distinct connections and eerie similarities between the inhumanity of the Holocaust history and the ravages of abortion in our day. This is not an easy subject to share, but let me narrow it to three lessons that Auschwitz (and the other death camps like it) teaches us.
Ever heard of the Tiergarten 4 program? It was a 1930’s Nazi program to “deal with” the physically handicapped, disabled and mentally ill. Nazi leadership determined that the resources necessary to maintain such life could be better used elsewhere to the betterment of the overall society. Sound familiar? (Google Tiergarten 4 for more understanding.) The outcomes of this relatively small program were instrumental in the implementation of the “Final Solution.”
As Nazi Germany and imperialistic Japan gained power, champions in various disciplines also rose to oppose these regimes. Some stepped out willingly while others were thrust into leadership. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Corrie Ten Boom, Winston Churchill, and Douglas McArthur are but a few well-known names. But countless others – from the underground and resistance forces to those in the ranks of the liberation armies – joined with the efforts of homebound citizens of many nationalities to defeat this worldwide scourge.
“Divide and conquer,” attributed to the great Roman general Julius Caesar, is a well-known battle strategy. The enemy of God has been using this tactic since the temptation in the Garden. Unfortunately, he still uses this tactic every day and every way to divide God’s people. This is an unfortunate reality in the pro-life movement as well.
Pro-life champions, whether on the stage, in public demonstrations or “in the trenches,” must recognize the necessity of standing together. We must resist divisions of denomination or method. We must walk with respect for how others are called to address this single greatest evil of our time. “But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you" (1 Corinthians 12:24-25).
It’s also important to remember the Apostle Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” This man of God addressed paupers and princes, artists and academics, the weak and the wealthy, in his effort to advance the Gospel. Can we do any less in advancing the Gospel of Life?
As one of our champions, John Ensor says, “It’s our turn.” As other generations have arisen to combat the evil of their day, we do so against the evil of our generation – abortion. We, like Corrie Ten Boom in her day, are not alone. We have millions upon millions of like-minded, life-minded friends and partners worldwide dedicated to the advancing a culture of life. Most of all, we stand rightly on the side of the Giver of Life, also known as the Lord of Hosts! In this, we can draw comfort, strength and even peace. In this, we can truly take heart!
Another Planned Parenthood office closed its doors this week. Dozens have done so across the U.S. as the “defund Planned Parenthood” movement gains traction in states like Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Texas.
Actually the defunding provides cover for Planned Parenthood since it has been aggressively moving towards super-size service operations located, predominantly, in urban communities. Its own strategy has put its smaller, less profitable locations in jeopardy. Losing taxpayer monies has motivated it to speed up the consolidation process.
When Planned Parenthood (or any abortion provider) clinic closes its doors, it is a gift to the pro-life movement and to the pregnancy help centers (PHCs) in that community. One less location providing abortions means that abortion seekers will have more opportunity to find the life-affirming help we offer.
Planned Parenthood gives the gift of the ground they abandon. Several pregnancy help centers now occupy former abortion clinic locations. Along with incredible symbolism, there are enormous practical opportunities to minister to former abortion-clinic patients who return to that same location seeking help.
Planned Parenthood has even given from its own staff! Former staffers converting to the pro-life position has been a wonderful gift to our movement. Abby Johnson and others like her are powerful voices exposing how little choice is actually in the pro-choice argument and how much Planned Parenthood preys on women instead of serving them. As more such converts join us, we must welcome them as the gifts from God that they are.
Even the fallacious, Planned Parenthood-sponsored legislative attacks are turning into gifts for the pregnancy help movement. Such attacks have netted judicial rulings in favor of PHCs. These same attacks have helped mobilize many marginal pro-lifers.
Phineas T. Barnum, the 19th century American showman and circus owner, is credited with saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” With this in mind, Planned Parenthood has gifted the movement with enormous publicity in the past few years!
Take heart! Even our opposition is contributing to your great work. I wonder if we can consider those unwitting contributions as in-kind gifts?
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