COLUMBUS, Ohio – In a televised segment that has gained widespread media attention and approval since first airing Sunday night, HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver took aim at the 2,752 locally funded pro-life pregnancy help centers and ultrasound-equipped medical clinics serving women with free help in unexpected pregnancies.
Oliver spent over 20 minutes of his show slandering pregnancy centers that offer alternatives to abortions. Among his profanity-laced tirade, Oliver accused pregnancy centers of operating deceptively by choosing locations near abortion businesses and by choosing names insufficently descriptive to meet Oliver's standards.
Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey responded with the following comment:
It is unfortunate, though unsurprising, when abortion extremists slander the good work of pro-life pregnancy help centers. These vital, community-funded centers exist only to empower a woman to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in an unexpected pregnancy. To some, the only legitimate action in an unexpected pregnancy is to end the child’s life through abortion, but women deserve better than abortion.
Women deserve true choice. No mother should ever feel so alone or pressured that she feels she has no choice other than abortion.
Rather than attacking Christian pro-life individuals and groups who offer women alternatives to abortion, perhaps abortion backers would do better to police their own industry, which profits from a woman’s despair by ending her child’s life through abortion.
Oliver becomes the latest comedian to devote a significant amount of airtime to lash out against pregnancy centers. In 2015, Patton Oswalt appeared on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, where the duo depicted pregnancy centers as "the ultimate hustle." That segment ended with one mother, a noted abortion activist named Cherrise Scott, saying she wished she had aborted her now 15-year-old son who she chose to carry to term after visiting a pregnancy center.
Starting last summer, Lizz Winstead -- a co-creator of Comedy Central's The Daily Show -- launched an anti-pregnancy center crusade where she and a small group of abortion advocates harass local pregnancy centers online and in person.
With as many as 99 percent of pregnancy center clients reporting a positive experience, none of the campaigns have gained traction, particularly among pregnancy center clients, who primarily hear about centers through word of mouth.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new effort to undermine and oppose pro-life pregnancy centers offering women a chance to choose life over abortion is now underway, and this time, it’s a former Planned Parenthood vice president calling the shots.
Launched in the beginning of January, “Equity Forward” identifies itself on its online “About Us” page as, a project aiming, “to ensure transparency and accountability among anti-reproductive health groups and individuals who are actively working to deny women access to services.”
Later in its “About Us” page, the group says it “exists to create a window into what opponents of reproductive health care are doing, operationally and tactically, in order to expose malfeasance, fraud, unethical practices, and false information to hold them accountable.”
Led by Mary Alice Carter, a former interim VP for communications at Planned Parenthood, Equity Forward was approvingly profiled by TheHill.com Friday. The group has already kicked off its initial investigation meant to smear the nation’s 2,700 locally funded pregnancy centers that offer peer counseling, ultrasounds, material aid and post-abortive help offered at no cost.
"Rather than going on a wild goose chase against pro-life pregnancy help, abortion activists would do far better to investigate their own industry,” Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International—which serves over 2,400 pregnancy help organizations around the world—said. “Pregnancy centers are good for women and their children. It is abortion businesses—not pregnancy centers—that routinely physically harm their patients, profit off a woman’s desperation and break the law to maximize their bottom line.
“No woman has ever died or been harmed in a pregnancy center, and sadly, we can’t say the same about abortion businesses.”
Chasing the Wild Goose
Monday evening, a licensed private investigator named Jane Ebert called and left a message on the personal cell phone of a former pregnancy center employee who now works full-time with a national pro-life group.
In her message, obtained by Pregnancy Help News, Ebert said she was working on an investigation on behalf of Equity Forward.
The message caught the former pregnancy center staffer off-guard, so she did a little digging into Equity Forward. She also reached out to her former colleagues at the pregnancy center and confirmed that Ebert hadn’t contacted any of them.
Ebert also contacted a former pregnancy center employee in another state the same day, Heartbeat International's Pregnancy Help News learned Friday afternoon.
As of Friday, Ebert had not returned a call or email from Pregnancy Help News.
Read more (here) at Heartbeat International's Pregnancy Help News.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEMonday | Jan. 15
A Republican from Iowa, Sen. Ernst spoke at the 2016 and 2017 March for Life and is a key sponsor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act—which ends most abortions at 20 weeks and beyond and is expected to go before the Senate the week of this year’s March for Life, Jan. 19.
Each of the four mothers participating in Babies Go to Congress overcame significant challenges to choose life in the midst of an unexpected pregnancy, thanks to the help of a locally funded and operated pregnancy center affiliated with Heartbeat International.
“We are honored to welcome Sen. Ernst to this year’s Babies Go to Congress,” Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International president, said. “Like pregnancy help leaders and volunteers at the local level, Sen. Ernst puts her pro-life beliefs into compassionate action. Every woman deserves the compassionate help and hope she needs to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in an unexpected pregnancy.”
Tweet This: @joniernst to headline event #PlannedParenthood could never pull off. #prolife #whywemarch @HeartbeatIntl
An event abortion industry leader Planned Parenthood would never dream of pulling off, Babies Go to Congress has brought 155 mothers and their children into congressional offices since Heartbeat International took its initial group to the nation’s Capitol in 2009. Overall, mothers with their children in tow have visited 315 congressional offices representing 25 states.
This year’s group is made up of mothers and children from North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri and Florida. One of the mothers, Kelsey Hedges from Missouri, refused abortion when the father of her twin girls pressured her to end their lives in the womb.
Thursday, Jan. 18, Hedges and her 15-month-old daughters will tell their story to the Senate offices of Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Claire McCaskill, as well as the House offices of Republicans Blaine Luetkemeyer and Jason Smith.
“I was in love from the moment I laid eyes on both of them,” Hedges writes. “They are such a blessing to my life, and bring so much joy to myself and the rest of my family. I thank God often for my girls and for Pregnancy Resource Center of Rolla who saved me and my pregnancy.”
Click here to learn more about the 2018 Babies Go to Congress participants and follow their journey to Capitol Hill.
CHICAGO – Headlining with syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, the 2017 Heartbeat International Annual Conference kicks off Wednesday and runs through Friday, and is expected to draw over 1,200 guests from 15 countries to Chicago’s Hyatt Regency near O’Hare Airport.
The conference is the 46th in Heartbeat International’s history, this year taking place in a state where pro-life medical professionals—including many who work and volunteer at nonprofit pregnancy clinics—are fighting a recent change to state law signed into effect by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Gov. Rauner signed a legislative change to Illinois’ Healthcare Right of Conscience Act midway through 2016 that would force doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to refer their patients for abortions against the deeply held religious conviction of those professionals. The law, which also applies to nonprofits that expressly exist to offer alternatives to abortion and receive no government funding, is being fought in state and federal courts, with one judge granting a temporary injunction against the law in late 2016.
The location of the conference—which varies each year—comes at the perfect time, says Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey, who has called upon affiliates in the state to defy the law.
“We plan these conferences several years ahead of time, so we feel particularly energized and encouraged to see all the pieces fall into place for Chicago in 2017,” Godsey said. “We’re looking forward to seeing great things happen with our speakers, ministry partners and special guests all week.”
A member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors, as well as a Fox News contributor, Cal Thomas is a past recipient of the William F. Buckley, Jr., Award for Media Excellence. He will be speaking Wednesday afternoon ahead of Ryan Bomberger, an Emmy® Award-winning creative professional who is an outspoken leader within the pro-life movement after having been conceived in rape and going onto become an adoptive father.
The keynote lineup also includes David and Jason Benham, former professional baseball players and successful realtors whose HGTV show was canceled in 2014 because of their candid Christian beliefs. Jill Stanek—a former RN in Oak Lawn, Ill., who resigned her position when hospital administrators would do nothing to stop infants born alive during abortions from being left to die—will also speak at the event, along with Dr. William Lile, an ob-gyn who bought out an abortion facility in South Florida and has spent the last two decades educating audiences on abortion procedures.
In addition to the keynotes, the conference includes 90 workshops and 15 full-day courses, including over 20 learning opportunities approved for nursing contact hours by the California Board of Registered Nursing.
“Pregnancy help centers and medical clinics are good for America,” Godsey said. “This is a primary opportunity for those of us within this vital community to link arms and better equip ourselves to save lives in a life-changing way.”
About Heartbeat International
Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and the largest network in the world. With 2,100 affiliated pregnancy help locations—including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies—Heartbeat serves on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion.
COLUMBUS, OHIO – In what it hails as the most powerful pro-life event on Capitol Hill, Heartbeat International is bringing seven mothers—and their children—to Washington, D.C. this January to tell elected officials how they chose life with the help of a community-funded pregnancy center.
The event, “Babies Go to Congress,” takes place Jan. 26, the morning prior to the annual March for Life, and is Heartbeat International’s 15th such visit to the nation’s capitol since 2009. In the previous trips, 113 mothers and their children have visited a total of 265 offices—including those of both Democrats and Republicans.
In each visit, a mother who has rejected abortion with the help of a pregnancy help organization has the opportunity to tell her story, alongside both her child and the staff from the center that helped her choose life.
“This is one event Planned Parenthood could never dream of pulling off,” Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey said. “Pregnancy help centers empower women to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in an unexpected pregnancy. This is a powerful platform for us to both show and tell the truth that pregnancy help centers are good for America.”
The group this year is made up of two mothers from Ohio, as well as one each from North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, Texas and Wyoming. Though six of the mothers are bringing with them children 4 years old and younger, one mother—Nikki Pinkley from Branson, Mo.—is bringing her 14-year-old daughter to the event.
Together, Nikki and her daughter, Alexis, illustrate the positive life-long impact of that nation’s 2,600 pregnancy help centers.
Nikki was raised in the church and had recently graduated high school when she found out she was pregnant. Finding help at Options Pregnancy Clinic in Branson, she not only chose life for Alexis, but the staff at Options encouraged her to keep pursuing her education and career goals.
Today, Nikki is a closing in on a decade as a licensed professional counselor and is working on her doctoral degree in psychology.
“My hope is that every young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy will find the help she needs to face the challenges of being a single mom,” Nikki, who later married, said. “It’s not easy, but I am living proof that the future is what you make of it. Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you. I found the help I needed, plus a lot of inspiration at Options Pregnancy Clinic.”
About Heartbeat International
Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and the largest network in the world. With 2,100 affiliated pregnancy help locations—including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies—Heartbeat serves on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion. For more information, see www.HeartbeatInternational.org.
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Local pro-life pregnancy help organizations have a new way to grow the support of their community, with the launch of YouSaveBabies.com, a web platform that connects donors with the life-saving work of pregnancy centers, pregnancy medical clinics, maternity homes and nonprofit adoption agencies.
Launched by Heartbeat International, the world’s largest network of pregnancy help, YouSaveBabies enables groups and individuals to promote and raise funds for the life-saving outreach of their choice.
Ideas for starting a fundraiser—which can be promoted via social media channels—include races and other personal goals, birthdays, in memory of loved ones, or as a way to coalesce the support of local church groups around a local pregnancy center. Starting a fundraiser is as simple as selecting an organization and filling out a brief fundraising form. All donations—less credit card transaction fees—go directly to the organization of choice.
“We’re confident YouSaveBabies will play a vital role in what Heartbeat International is most committed to doing—advancing life-affirming pregnancy help at the local level,” Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey said. “Pregnancy help organizations are rescuing lives and helping to build strong families every single day. Donors and other supporters are invigorated to see that, and YouSaveBabies is a great way for them to connect.”
The giving platform utilizes FundEasy, web software by Ministry Sync that has helped faith-based nonprofits raise over $35 million since its rollout in 2010. Individual pregnancy help organizations can choose to embed a YouSaveBabies giving badge on their donor websites to raise awareness for newly unveiled platform.
Heartbeat International affiliates in the U.S. and those available through Heartbeat International’s 24-7 contact center Option Line (1-800-712-HELP, OptionLine.org) are automatically listed in the YouSaveBabies network, which includes over 2,000 pregnancy help locations.
“This is a great step forward for our friends on the local level, and it’s another way we can work together to build a culture where no woman ever feels so alone or coerced that she feels abortion is her only choice,” Godsey said. “Pregnancy help provides compassionate support and real choice, and these life-saving organizations have a new friend in YouSaveBabies.”
About Heartbeat International Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and the largest network in the world. With 2,000 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.
COLUMBUS, OH - Less than two months into the calendar year, 2016 is shaping up to be a major marker in Heartbeat International’s history. The network is welcoming its 2,000th affiliated pregnancy help organization and celebrating the 13th anniversary of its 24-7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line.
Called into existence by local pregnancy centers in 1971 as the first-ever network of pregnancy help, Heartbeat International’s 2,000th affiliate is First Choice Pregnancy Center, a medical center offering free ultrasound scanning, STI testing, pregnancy testing and more in Weatherford, Oklahoma, home of Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
The center’s executive director, Kathy Gibson, whose journey to pro-life work began shortly after she experienced an abortion, attended Heartbeat International’s Pregnancy Help Institute in Dec. 2015, along with her executive assistant.
“In 20 years in this work, I have never experienced anything like it,” Gibson said of the Institute. “From there, joining Heartbeat International was a no-brainer. I feel like Heartbeat is in touch with who we are and where we are, and we love the personal touch that Heartbeat offers.”
Option Line (1-800-712-HELP; OptionLine.org) represents one of the central visions of Heartbeat International’s founding generation—comprised of pro-life ob-gyns and an unsung hero of the Holocaust—of a hotline connecting callers with help near them.
Since answering its first call in 2003, Option Line has responded to over 2.35 million contacts, including phone calls, live chats, texts and emails. The helpline answered over 243,000 contacts—650 every day—in 2015. Option Line also increased its web traffic in 2015 by launching a new iteration of OptionLine.org, and has expanded its capability of connecting contacts directly to local pregnancy help to over 500 locations.
Overall, Option Line refers to 2,250 pregnancy help organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“It’s incredible to think of the children who are becoming teenagers this year who may never have been if not for Option Line,” Bri Laycock, director of operations for Option Line, said. “We are convinced now more than ever that local pregnancy help is what makes the difference between life and abortion for so many mothers. That’s why our energies have always been—and will always remain—focused on connecting callers and website visitors to pregnancy help people near them.”
At 2,000 affiliate locations worldwide, including a presence on every inhabited continent, Heartbeat International continues to be the largest network of pregnancy help.
Hosting its 45th Annual Conference March 29-31 in Atlanta, Heartbeat International announced a leadership transition in early January, as Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., the organization’s president of 22 years, took on new responsibilities as Chairman of the Board, promoting longtime vice president Jor-El Godsey as only the second president in the 45-year history of the network.
COLUMBUS, OH - Cindi Boston, who helped start and has led successful pregnancy help center in Missouri as its CEO since 1999, has been named Heartbeat International’s Vice President, it was announced Tuesday.
The announcement comes just days after the organization named former President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., as Board Chair and promoted former Vice President Jor-El Godsey to President. Boston, whose involvement in the pregnancy help community dates back to 1989, had previously served on Heartbeat International’s Board of Directors starting in 2013.
“From the time we were started by pregnancy help people back in 1971, Heartbeat International has always believed in the strength and expertise of our network, and Cindi is a perfect example of this,” Godsey, who has been involved in life-affirming efforts since 1988, said. “We have admired Cindi’s strengths as a leader ever since we first met her, and it is truly amazing to think about what God has in store for Cindi and for Heartbeat International in coming years.”
Boston chaired the initial board of Springfield, Missouri’s Pregnancy Care Center in 1998, helping to turn $2,000 of seed money and a mailing list into an organization that has served more than 265,000 expectant moms, dads, and students over the past 15 years.
Boston has brought several of the parents who chose life—along with their children—to Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress annual event in Washington, D.C., and is leading one of the six teams preparing for the event Jan. 21.
A 2011 recipient of Heartbeat International’s Servant-Leader Award, Boston has developed relationships with local and state politicians as a member and Board Chair for Missouri’s Alliance for Life. Her efforts helped cultivate a positive environment in the state legislature that adopted its 2011 Resolution Honoring Pregnancy Care Centers and, more recently, increased its partnership with pregnancy help centers through its Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.
With Boston on board as Vice President, Heartbeat International’s senior leadership team brings more than 60 years of direct involvement with local pregnancy centers between Boston, Godsey, and Senior Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell. All three hold designations as Life-Affirming Specialists through Heartbeat International's Academy.
COLUMBUS, OH - Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International’s President for the last 22 years, has been selected by the organization’s Board of Directors to serve as its new Board Chair. The change goes into effect Thursday, Jan. 7.
The first full-time president in the organization’s 45-year history, Hartshorn is now resuming a role she held from 1990 to 2004 at Heartbeat International. She was also a founding board member for Columbus-based Pregnancy Decision Health Centers, dating back to 1981, giving her over 36 years of experience steering an organization from a board level.
Along with her fellow board members, Hartshorn’s first action in her new position has been to appoint former Vice President Jor-El Godsey as Heartbeat International’s new President, a change that is also effective immediately. A long-time pregnancy center leader on the local level dating back to 1988, Godsey has served as part of Heartbeat International’s senior leadership since 2006.
“We are so pleased, as a Board of Directors, to extend this call to Jor-El Godsey as our organization’s new President,” Hartshorn said. “Jor-El has established himself as a great leader, both within our network of life-affirming pregnancy help and more broadly, among our peers in the international pro-life community. We have every confidence that he will continue to lead Heartbeat International into a new era of excellence as we strive together to make abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations.”
Shocked when the Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling on Roe v. Wade in 1973, Hartshorn and her husband, Mike, thrust themselves into the pro-life arena immediately. They opened their home to pregnant women beginning in 1974, then served together to open a pregnancy help center and pregnancy helpline in Central Ohio.
Hartshorn has written much of Heartbeat International’s core training materials for staff and volunteers at local pregnancy help organizations, including The L.O.V.E. Approach, which was first released in 1994 and is now in its third edition. She was also instrumental in founding Option Line, a pregnancy helpline serving the U.S. and Canada that has reached more than 2.4 million women with life-affirming pregnancy help since first answering the call in 2003.
As Board Chair, Hartshorn will now focus the majority of her time on crafting new training manuals and building upon her 2011 release, Foot Soldiers Armed with Love: Heartbeat International’s First Forty Years, with writing that connects the pregnancy help community into the larger pro-life community.
A leader and director at local pregnancy centers from 1988 to 2006, Godsey holds a Life-Affirming Specialist designation through Heartbeat International’s Academy, and, like Hartshorn, is a widely sought-after speaker among pregnancy help organizations throughout the U.S. and globally.
Major accomplishments under Peggy Hartshorn’s presidential tenure:
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.
Tweet This: @HeartbeatIntl's Danielle M. White brings experience from @AllianceDefends, @ThomasMoreSoc
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Joining a team that serves a network of nearly 2,000 affiliated pregnancy help organizations and over 8,500 pro-life pregnancy help individuals worldwide, Danielle M. White, J.D., has been named legal counsel for Heartbeat International.
White replaces her predecessor, Ellen Foell, who served in the capacity from 2012-15. A member of the Ohio State Bar Association, the Columbus Bar Association, and the Christian Legal Society, White also serves as an Allied Attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom.
A recipient of the prestigious Blackstone Fellowship while a law student at Ave Maria School of Law, White studied the bioethical issues surrounding a recently developed human cloning procedure in London. She also gained experience as a summer associate for the Thomas More Society, which defends the traditional family, religious liberty, and the right to life.
“We are very pleased to welcome Danielle to our team,” Vice President Jor-El Godsey said. “Her credentials speak for themselves, but what has impressed us more than anything is Danielle’s heart for pregnancy help. She is truly committed not only to the cause of life, but to serving the women and families our network works so tirelessly to reach.”
White first became involved in the pro-life movement when she began attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C., as a middle school student. She subsequently joined the pregnancy help community at centers and maternity homes in Ohio and Florida while an undergraduate at Franciscan University and a law student at Ave Maria School of Law.
White, who served as senior editor for the Ave Maria Law Review in law school, will oversee the content development for Heartbeat International e-publications On the LeaderBoard and Capitol Matters, which are targeted to affiliated individuals of Heartbeat International.
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