Twenty-three years into pastoral ministry, Mike Spencer resigned.
But, a year after stepping away from the pulpit, Mike says it wasn’t the usual reasons that initiated his change of direction. What caused the change was a bit of unfinished business.
“When I resigned my position, it was a very difficult thing to do,” Mike says, “I wasn’t pushed out, bummed out, or burned out. I really loved my church and serving in the role God had called me to there.
“The reason I stepped away is I really think there’s a large portion of the church who have given up on the plight of the unborn. That’s why I do what I do today.”
Today, Mike serves as an educator with Life Training Institute, a pro-life organization started by Christian apologist Scott Klusendorf that focuses on training Christians and other pro-life advocates to save lives by presenting and defending the sanctity in the public square.
Mike, who will be leading a pre-conference in-depth day, “Making the Case for Life,” at the 2016 Heartbeat International Annual Conference, became an advocate for life in 1984. Having become a Christian just one year prior, Mike still held pro-choice views, until a viewing of The Silent Scream—hosted by his church—changed everything.
Thirty years of serving in the church—including 23 as a pastor—and active involvement in the pro-life movement throughout that time have convinced Mike of the need for more Christians to become equipped with strong arguments on behalf of the unborn, so he couldn’t resist the chance to say, “Yes” when he was given the opportunity to jump onboard with Life Training Institute.
“The value in learning the proper role of apologetics can’t be overstated,” Mike says. “One of the things I’ve experienced is when someone gains a certain amount of knowledge and can speak winsomely, the result is both confidence and engagement.
“The more engagement we can have—whether in a formal setting with a pro-choice advocate, or with your brother-in-law at a family get-together—the more natural we’re going to feel, and the more effect that will have in the long run.”
Book by Kirk Walden
Review by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President
It’s all too easy to get so close to the trees that you miss the forest.
In our world, we can be so focused on the “trees”—day-to-day tasks needed to accomplish our mission—we miss the “forest” that our movement represents.
Kirk Walden, in his freshly printed book, The Wall: Building a Culture of Life in American and Ending Abortion as We Know It, shows us the big picture of how far we’ve come in the pregnancy help movement over our first 40-plus years. Kirk pictures pro-life Americans—specifically those in the pregnancy help movement—as the figurative wall of Nehemiah built to half its height (Nehemiah 4:6).
Moreover, Kirk challenges us all to remember there is half the wall—more of us doing what we do—yet to build!
The Wall is a short, but invigorating read. Kirk, a seasoned advocate for pregnancy help work, deftly weaves the biblical narrative together with a vision for victory!
Click here to read more.
Related: Saving Lives Now with a Winning Strategy, by Jeanneane Maxon
Related: Fight to Win: An Argument for a State Human Life Amendment
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
There are perhaps, no better known or rehearsed words in American history than these, which are embedded in the foundational document of the United States.
In the Declaration of Independence, the framers articulated two self-evident truths:
Those are possibly some of the most profound and meaningful words ever penned.
However, we also know that on the face of this profound and meaningful document itself, the words, and presumably the inalienable rights, applied only to certain men. One of those inalienable rights—the right to vote, to sway the system of government—belonged only to men.
If owning property or just about anything else is an inalienable right, then women were denied that right as well.
In a letter to her husband, John Adams, in 1776, Abigail Adams wrote, "in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies." His answer: "As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh… We know better than to repeal our masculine systems."
Appealing to her husband’s sense of fairness and desire for liberty for all, Abigail Adams wrote again, “I can not say that I think you very generous to the Ladies, for whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to Men, Emancipating all Nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over Wives."
This appeal fell on apparently deaf ears.
And so it was that women could not vote or be elected as presidents, senators, or anything else until 1920 by virtue of the 19th Amendment. From 1776 to 1920, it was clearly not self-evident that women had inalienable rights.
[Related: Saving Lives Now with a Winning Strategy, by Jeanneane Maxon]
Racial inequality: All men are created equal…
We further know that at the time those words were penned, non-landowners, African Americans, and those deemed too young (under 18) were specifically excluded not only from voting, but from other inalienable rights as well. In fact, some colonies, in 1776, prohibited any of these classes of people not only from owning land, but in some cases, from owning a gun, joining the militia, or owning real property.
Evidently, when the framers wrote that it was a self-evident truth that all men are created equal, they were really referring only to white, land-holding men. It was evidently not so self-evident that God created all people—men and women, black and white, slave and free, rich and poor—with unalienable rights.
Black people, both slaves and free, also tried to get equal rights under the new Constitution. In 1777, Prince Hall and eight other black men wrote a petition to the courts of Massachusetts arguing the following:
[Y]our Petitioners apprehend that they have in Common with all other men a Natural and Unalienable Right to that freedom which the Grat Parent of the Universe that Bestowed equally on all menkind and which they have Never forfeited by any Compact or agreement whatever.
In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson named the following among the list of offenses committed by the British crown:
[He] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people [the Africans] who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.
But Jefferson’s above defense did not gain traction with the rest of the framers. Instead, when writing the Constitution, the Founding Fathers eventually agreed to the Three-Fifths Compromise, which counted each black man as three-fifths of a white man in censuses, yet did nothing to give freedom or rights to black individuals.
In fact, the truth that African Americans had unalienable rights took another 180 years, at least two Supreme Court decisions, marches, protests, arrests, and spilled blood before the government truly acknowledged that African Americans were endowed with unalienable rights, including the right to freely vote.
[Related: Fight to Win: An Argument for a State Human Life Amendment]
But the issue was not just that blacks did not have the right to vote, which would be wrong in and of itself. It was the logical underpinnings of that denial of suffrage that were truly objectionable. The right to vote does not exist in a vacuum. It is given to those society values and accepts within the ranks as having equal footing with all, worthy of the protection afforded to all.
For 180 years following the Revolutionary War, blacks were not treated as those to whom God had endowed with unalienable rights.
Likewise, Native Americans were not allowed to vote in the first 100-plus years of American life. The Constitution (Article I, section 2) states that "Indians not taxed" should not even be counted in the census at all. The men who wrote the Constitution held that Native Americans belonged to their own group, and were not part of the United States at all.
Native American men did not get the right to vote until 1889, and then only if they left their tribes and lived like white men. It wasn’t until 1924 that tribal Indians could vote. And before 1924, it is doubtless a scar upon America’s history that Native Americans were forcibly removed from their ancestral land.
A final inconsistency in voting rights was corrected in 1971 by the 26th Amendment, which granted 18-year-olds the right to vote. This amendment was passed in response to Vietnam War-era protests that the same young men who were drafted into war did not themselves possess a right to vote.
Taking all these classes of people together, only about a quarter of the adults in the United States could vote immediately following the Revolutionary War. All men created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights? Self-evident Not really.
These truths did not become self-evident for many classes of people until much later, and only then after several hard-fought battles.
The truth is that what was said to be self-evident in 1776 only became truly evident over time, as a result of sustained effort by the people. No one would argue today that blacks, women, those who do not own property, 18-year–olds, or Native Americans should be denied equal status as humans with inalienable rights.
But in 1776, that was evidently not self-evident.
Personhood Amendments seek to make it self-evident that life begins at fertilization—the embryo is a human being. And while embryos are not given the right to vote, or own property, he or she certainly has the inalienable right of protection.
There are currently several states in which personhood amendments are either pending or proposed. A Personhood Amendment seeks to define personhood in a state Constitution. In short, Personhood Amendments seek to define life as starting at fertilization and thereby worthy of legal protection.
In Georgia, a Personhood Amendment passed by a super majority in July, 2012. In North Dakota, the Personhood Amendment states in part, “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and defended.”
In Mississippi, the failed Personhood Amendment (2011) stated the following:
As used in this Article III of the state constitution, the term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.
These amendments are controversial, both among Christians and non-Christians, as well as pro-life and pro-abortion camps. Is such an amendment necessary? Is such an amendment wise? Is pursuing such an amendment helpful or harmful to the pro life movement?
In this issue of Capitol Matters, Heartbeat presents two strongly pro-life attorneys—Rob Muise, American Freedom Law Center and Jeanneane Maxon, Americans United for Life—who debate the two sides of the issue.
We present them primarily to demonstrate two differing opinions within the pro-life movement. We also present their arguments to provoke thinking and discussion, and hopefully, as Hebrews 10:24 instructs us, to love and good works.
by Ellen Foell, Esq., Heartbeat International Legal Counsel
Robert J. Muise, Esq., American Freedom Law Center
For too long, the national pro-life movement has feared losing at the risk of winning. This mentality must change, and one way to do that is to press for a state human life amendment. Unfortunately, the national pro-life leadership appears unwilling to do so.
Opponents to such an amendment argue for the continuation of an “incremental” approach with no plan in the foreseeable future for ending abortion in this country. Contrary to the position staked out by such opponents, after 40 years of abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy, it is time to rethink pro-life strategy.
While seeking to decrease the number of abortions performed in this country is a laudable endeavor and should continue, we must never forget that ending all abortions is the ultimate goal. Protecting innocent human life is not negotiable. Accordingly, we should not corrupt our discourse by even suggesting that it is. The fundamental human right is the right to life itself. This is true of life from its earliest stage of development until natural death. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right—it is the very opposite.
Protecting innocent human life from its very beginning is a pro-life imperative—there are no exceptions. And while opponents of a human life amendment make it seem as if regulating abortion and seeking to end abortion are an “either or” proposition, this is a false dichotomy. There is no conflict between the two positions. They both can and must coexist. It would be a tragic mistake to be content with a strategy that makes ending abortion secondary to other regulatory efforts, or worse yet, a strategy that avoids it altogether. Accordingly, a human life amendment should be the pro-life movements’ main effort.
[See Also: Evidently, Not so Self-Evident, by Ellen Foell]
A human life amendment presents not only an opportunity to challenge the central holding of Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), it provides a historic opportunity to educate the general public regarding the harm caused by all abortions, not just late-term, partial-birth abortions, which, in comparison, are far fewer in number. Accordingly, a proposed human life amendment provides the pro-life movement with the opportunity to demonstrate the humanity of the unborn victim at the earliest moments of life and the inhumane way in which this life is destroyed by abortion.
Demonstrating the humanity of the victim is a key component in social reform. Throughout the history of our nation, social reform has always been achieved through such efforts, which dramatize the injustice and prick the collective conscience of the culture.
A criticism of the human life amendment approach is that the American public is not ready to accept the reality that human life begins at fertilization. If this criticism is valid, then it is a serious indictment of the national pro-life movement and calls into question its efficacy over the years. A human life amendment provides an opportunity to remedy this grave deficiency, which alone is reason enough to support such an amendment.
In the final analysis, we are in this fight to win, not to go on in perpetuity, content with an occasional “honorable mention.” To succeed in this fight, we must have leaders who are committed to winning it.
What does it mean to win the pro-life fight? John Paul the Great defined the objective in the Gospel of Life:
The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life.
A human life amendment seeks to achieve this objective—and nothing less.
[See Also: Saving Lives with a Winning Strategy, by Jeanneane Maxon]
While Roe v. Wade was widely-decried by legal scholars as being without constitutional warrant, it cannot be gainsaid that the central holding of Roe v. Wade remains the primary obstacle to any meaningful pro-life initiative that seeks to end abortion.
To remove this obstacle, a case must be presented to the United States Supreme Court that challenges the central premise of Roe—that the unborn is not a person within the meaning of the law. In Roe, the Court conceded that if the “personhood” of the fetus “is established, [the case for abortion], of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [Fourteenth] Amendment.” Roe, 410 U.S. at 156-57.
The Court reviewed the language of the United States Constitution and concluded that the word “person” did not have any prenatal application. Id. A human life amendment would seek to establish “personhood” as a state constitutional right.
In the early years of the pro-life movement, there was national support for a federal human life amendment—a proposal that would amend the United States Constitution. Many saw such a proposal as a legitimate means for seeking reversal of the Roe decision. Despite valiant efforts in the 1980s, attempts to reverse Roe by a federal constitutional amendment or statute failed.
Given the political realities today, it is difficult to see such a proposal gaining any real momentum in Washington, D.C. But it would be a mistake to equate the national political situation in the United States Congress with the local political situations in each state.
In the final analysis, the pro-life movement must rethink its strategy to include efforts to end abortion. One such effort is a state human life amendment. The status quo is unacceptable. Indeed, the words penned by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail ring true today:
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was ‘well timed’ in view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word ‘wait’! It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’
We can no longer “wait” to adopt a strategy that has ending abortion as its primary objective. A well-supported, human life amendment initiative in each state across the country is such a strategy.
Related: Saving Lives Now with a Winning Strategy, by Jeanneane MaxonRelated: Evidently, Not so Self-Evident, by Ellen Foell
Robert J. Muise is co-founder of American Freedom Law Center.
Jeanneane Maxon, Esq., Americans United for Life
I first walked into the doors of a pregnancy center when I was seven years old—when my mother started working as the Executive Director of a large pregnancy center network in Texas.
When I look back, I remember some times of real heartbreak; times when, in spite of our best efforts, a client chose an abortion. I remember times we shed tears of rejoicing, when a client who was set on having an abortion later walked into the center with a beautiful baby.
We grieved the lives lost; we rejoiced in the lives saved, and ultimately we sought to save as many preborn children as possible, all while showing love and compassion to the women facing the unplanned pregnancy.
Similarly, the whole strategy of Americans United for Life (AUL), the legal architects of the pro-life movement, is to save as many lives as possible, all while providing truth and protection to women, and ultimately working for the day when Roe v. Wade will be reversed.
Within the pro-life movement, there are several approaches designed to reverse Roe v. Wade and end abortion. The goal is always the same—protecting the lives of unborn children—but each approach emphasizes a distinct strategy.
Two of the most prominent approaches today are the “Statutory” approach, the approach championed by AUL, and the “Convention” or “Referendum” approach, sometimes called the “personhood” approach.
[See Also: Evidently, Not so Self-Evident, by Ellen Foell]
AUL’s Statutory approach seeks to save lives in the present day primarily through the enactment of AUL’s 40+ pieces of model laws contained in our annual publication Defending Life. These laws have the strongest potential of surviving a constitutional challenge in the courts based on our legal team’s extensive experience and analysis of both the legal record and the Justices’ writings.
AUL has been involved in every major life-related case that has come before the Supreme Court beginning with Roe, and we successfully defended the Hyde Amendment which prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion.
Simultaneously, in a parallel track, the same bills that save lives now also directly attack the current legal foundation of Roe v. Wade and provide the Supreme Court the opportunity to reverse its horrendous decision.
Our work accomplishes three objectives:
Importantly, the Statutory approach also allows the pro-life movement to enact laws that bring attention to the needs of the woman as well as the unborn child. These include protections like informed consent, waiting periods, the right to view an ultrasound, and safety and hygiene regulations for abortion facilities.
Woman-centered pro-life legislation can begin to save lives immediately after they are enacted. But this legislation is also written with a long-term strategic legal view. If Roe v. Wade is ever going to be overturned, the pro-life movement must overcome the false idea that abortion is synonymous with women’s health and well-being.
[See Also: Fight to Win: An Argument for a State Human Life Amendment by Robert J. Muise]
Currently, the legal status of abortion is dependent on the false notion that abortion is good for women. Several of the Justices, like many in the American public, view abortion as a “necessary evil.” In Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court developed a legal doctrine known as the “reliance interest” in order to continue its support for virtually unrestricted abortion despite the wealth of evidence that proves unborn children are living persons.
The reliance interest focuses solely on women, who supposedly “rely” on abortion to maintain their status in American society. Because of this doctrine, it is highly unlikely that the Court will reverse Roe v. Wade unless the Justices recognize that abortion does not help women—abortion harms women, a truth that pregnancy centers know all too well.
The Convention approach, on the other hand, seeks to protect human life by calling state conventions to amend the U.S. Constitution. To provide some legal context, there are two ways to amend the U.S. Constitution:
The Convention approach has the proven impact of engaging the grassroots public and the culture overall on the life issue, and should be commended for those efforts.
Unfortunately, as a legal approach, it has historically proven to be very difficult, as none of the twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by state constitutional convention. AUL, in fact, had been involved in early efforts related to the Convention approach before shifting to a statutory-focused strategy.
In addressing the abortion issue, it is of the utmost importance that we are united as well as strategic. As it says in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (NKJ). Part of any overall strategy in the pro-life movement must involve bringing cases that we know cut to the heart of the reliance interest premise upholding Roe v. Wade.
Similar to pregnancy centers, we must work to demonstrate the harm of abortion to both women and their preborn children, while using our best efforts to save as many lives as we can today.
And like pregnancy centers, we are able to rejoice daily in lives saved.
Related: Evidently, Not so Self-Evident
1. Research conducted by Dr. Michael New of the University of Michigan in Dearborn found that even basic commonsense laws like parental consent/notification serve to reduce abortion significantly in states that enacted them. Michael J. New, Ph.D., Analyzing the Effect of State Legislation on the Incidence of Abortion Among Minors, HERITAGE CENTER FOR DATA ANALYSIS (2007), available at http://s3.amazonaws.com/thf_media/2007/pdf/cda07-01.pdf (finding that parental involvement laws and Medicaid funding restrictions significantly reduced the abortion rate during the 1990s).
Jeanneane Maxon serves as Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Counsel for Americans United for Life.
What better way to advance the pregnancy help movement worldwide than for one Heartbeat affiliate to link arms with another Heartbeat affiliate for the sake of women, babies, and families all over the world?
A new mother cradles her child in Immokalee.
The moment Diane Hanson stopped by for a meeting in Immokalee, Florida, an hour’s drive from the affluent town of Naples, she knew God was calling her family to serve the women and families of this impoverished community for the next season in life.
The year was 2007, two years after Hurricane Wilma whipped through the agricultural-dependent migrant community with winds over 120 miles per hour, and at the peak of the U.S. economic downturn, leaving nearly 40 percent of Immokalee’s residents below the federal poverty line.
Then serving as a pregnancy help center executive director at a center in Naples, Diane was asked by local leaders to take the reins at Immokalee Pregnancy Center, which had been destroyed by Hurricane Wilma. Soon, she and her husband, Dave, were on their way to their new mission field.
With so much work to do, and so little in the way of material and financial resources, the Hansons connected to an old friend and ministry partner named Phil Holsinger.
A veteran pregnancy help leader since the early 1990s, Phil was in the process of transitioning to a role as president and CEO of Heartbeat affiliate Blue Ridge Women’s Center in Roanoke, Virginia, where he had been struck by a parable of sorts, told by a friend who’d become a Christian during a stint in a federal penitentiary.
The parable went something like this: Several prisoners were sat down in a room and given a handful of puzzle pieces, then told they must learn to work with others without the benefit of speaking in order to complete the puzzle. These small groups of prisoners could only accomplish their work by cooperatively capitalizing on their shared resources.
To Phil, the application of this parable was simple. Every pregnancy help organization simultaneously has abundant resources and abundant need. Rather than expending the bulk of efforts compensating for areas of need, Phil realized, organizations could flourish by sharing from their areas of abundance with others.
Phil Holsinger (L) and Center for Global Strategies leaders, together with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov (head of table) in January, 2013.
And so, when Diane and Dave Hanson landed in financially strapped Immokalee, Phil knew this could be the perfect opportunity for his vision to come to reality.
Phil Holsinger (L) and Center for Global Strategies leaders, together with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov (head of table) in January, 2013.
“When Dave first brought me to the center, I had to kick chickens out of the way from the car to the building,” Phil said. “I told him, ‘This place reminds me of places I’ve been in Africa, or South America, or the Caribbean.’ I told him, ‘Anything we have is yours.’”
From that point on, Blue Ridge Women’s Center has supported Immokalee Pregnancy Center by, among other assistance, supplying one month’s overhead each year. Since Blue Ridge began this partnership, Phil’s goal has been to involve other pregnancy help organizations to pitch in and supply Immokalee with enough monthly support to power the center through an entire year.
But Phil’s vision has also expanded globally, with a similar work starting in the former Yugoslav country of Macedonia, where he and leaders from Center for Global Strategies recently met with the country’s President to discuss the good work of pregnancy centers, the first of which has been established in the bustling city of Shtip.
“We talked with the President for almost an hour about pregnancy help centers, and he was getting tears in his eyes as we told him the stories of women, babies, and families saved,” Phil said. “Then I thought, ‘Why couldn’t the same thing that’s happening with Immokalee happen here?’”
“It’s been amazing to see the lives that are being changed already in Macedonia, even with little-to-no advertising. I have just been blown away with how God is working there, and with the bulk of worldwide abortions occurring outside of the U.S., these efforts are uniquely strategic, as well as uniquely needed.”
With the pregnancy help movement advancing worldwide, the puzzle pieces are falling into place, thanks to faithful men and women like Phil Holsinger, Diane and Dave Hanson, and partners like you.
By Ellen Foell, Legal Counsel
I know it is no longer fashionable to think that the First Amendment has any punch or power, but I like to hold onto such beliefs. You remember what it says, right?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
“Petition the government for redress of grievances” is a fancy way of saying “lobbying.” In general, lobbying is simply stating your position on specific legislation to legislators or other government employees who participate in the formulation of legislation. It can also mean urging your elected representatives to do so on your behalf, which is known as direct lobbying.
Lobbying includes stating your position on legislation to the general public and asking the general public to contact legislators or other government employees who participate in the formulation of legislation. This is known as grassroots lobbying.
Here’s something that may come as a shock: 501(c)(3)s are permitted to lobby. That means your center is permitted to lobby. In fact, to fulfill your center’s mandate and mission, your center and its members should be lobbying.
Federal tax law and the IRS regulations permit some lobbying by nonprofits, as long as that lobbying meets two criteria:
1. The time and money spent on lobbying by the 501c3 falls within IRS limits;
2. The activities engaged in by the organization fall within IRS definitions of lobbying.
A 501(c)(3) that has not filed for the 501(h) election is limited to spending an insubstantial amount of time, expenses and activities on lobbying. Insubstantial has never been defined by the IRS, but certainly 5% is generally considered a safe amount of time and money.
A center that has taken the (very easy!) step of filing a 501(h) election with the IRS operates under a different set of rules. In that case, a center would be subject to the following limits:
If the amount of exempt purpose expenditures is:
Lobbying nontaxable amount is:
20% of the exempt purpose expenditures
>$500,00 but ≤ $1,000,000
$100,000 plus 15% of the excess of exempt purpose expenditures over $500,000
> $1,000,000 but ≤ $1,500,000
$175,000 plus 10% of the excess of exempt purpose expenditures over $1,000,000
$225,000 plus 5% of the exempt purpose expenditures over $1,500,000
The law also makes it clear which activities are lobbying and which are not. For example, lobbying occurs only when there is an expenditure of money by the 501(c)(3) for the purpose of attempting to influence legislation.
Centers are permitted to ask members and donors as well as the general public to support or oppose specific legislation. Centers are permitted to announce the legislation in a publication and ask readers to take action.
A 501(c)(3) organization may inform a political candidate of its positions on particular issues and urge him/her to go on record, pledging support of those positions. A center director can also mention the legislation when speaking at a church and encourage action.
Further, centers are allowed, without limit, to educate people on the legislation without encouraging action, to advocate involvement in the political process, and to pray regarding the legislation.
If the IRS had a deduction specifically for the benefit of pro-life individuals (which it does not), wouldn’t you as an individual, take advantage of it? Well, the IRS permits your organization to lobby, within limits.
Take advantage of it.
In the case of pro-abortion bills H.R. 2030 and S.B. 981, the mission, well-being, and very existence of your center may very well depend upon it.
by John T. Bruchalski, MD, FACOG
How can OBGYNs and Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs) collaborate to build a healthier community where abortions are unwanted? This is the purpose of this presentation. Seeing the benefits of what we have accomplished has been inspiring, but we can do more. Based on Tepeyac Family Center’s work of serving regional pregnancy centers in Northern Virginia for the past two decades, we have a few ideas on how to make abortion unwantable.
Individually, our purpose on Earth is to love God and love our neighbors with all of our heart, mind and soul. Faith and charity go hand in hand. As Tepeyac physicians, we see medicine as an act of mercy where we care for and have compassion for the sick and vulnerable, the “least of our brothers and sisters.” There is no better way to live this vocation as an OBGYN than by serving the local PRCs in our neighborhood, community, and beyond.
Compassion means to suffer with, and we can suffer with our clients and patients and love enough by working together. Practicing merciful medicine removes the reasons for abortion and does so much more than save a baby. We are working toward Transforming Hearts Through Healthcare™ and mercy shows God’s grace.
Let us elucidate the problems that OBGYNs face today, so we can suggest some practical answers to make abortion unwantable.
Everywhere we turn, the world seems to be in crisis. With massive changes to the United States (U.S.) healthcare system, physicians today are more cynical, pessimistic, fearful and tired than I have seen in three decades of practicing medicine. The present government solution to fix healthcare decreases reimbursements to doctors and increases paperwork and overhead costs with complex regulations.
Moreover, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has ignored the entire issue of malpractice resulting in increases in liability insurance costs. Under the rhetoric of “reproductive rights” and “women’s healthcare”, the current administration has enshrined abortion and contraception as mainstream medical practices despite the stigma, the paucity of providers, and split in public opinion.
Further, the ACA dismisses personal consciences and violates religious freedoms. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has assaulted conscience rights of future doctors and is demanding that their member doctors either refer or perform abortions. ACOG knows that most physicians refuse to perform the procedures because of its barbaric nature and the number of abortionists is dwindling.
Below are my observed problems that OBGYNs face in building relationships with crisis pregnancy centers and making abortion unwantable.
The first problem is lukewarmness. Lukewarm is a problem for physicians on both sides of the abortion issue. Sadly, I know this from first hand experience. I spent the first two years of my career as an abortion provider. Thankfully, my faith and prayer life led me to a place where I am no longer forced or required to violate my conscience. By faith and sacrifice, my wife and I founded Tepeyac Family Center in Northern Virginia in 1994, and its parent company Divine Mercy Care (DMC) in 2000.
My Tepeyac colleagues and I have worked alongside and inside pregnancy resource centers as volunteer counselors, advisors, and board members. Despite many excuses, the primary, honest reason most doctors do not perform abortions is the brutality of the procedure. Over one million abortions are performed in the U.S. annually and most doctors are simply not that passionate about abortion to actually perform them. It is easier for doctors to refer abortions out to the local abortionist.
On the pro-life side, most doctors, even those identified in a Christian faith tradition, are really not that passionate about the dignity of human life to take on the added malpractice risk of seeing women with crisis pregnancies, or accept the financial burden of caring for people without insurance. Providing life-taking or life-affirming care is too much of a burden to physicians with so many other problems and responsibilities to deal with on a day to day basis.
Lukewarmness among doctors is a problem for both sides of the abortion issue.
The second problem is chasing idols. My profession has placed idols before the source of happiness and joy. Idols include making money and increasing prestige; believing abortion is an answer to social and medical problems yet being lukewarm in its practice; not searching for the root cause of unplanned pregnancies; accepting rampant promiscuity and the resultant diseases that follow; treating fertility as a disease and children as sexually transmitted infections; pitting mothers and fathers against their unborn children; and working with suffering without seeing the redemptive nature when suffering cannot be relieved.
As doctors who have taken a vow to “do no harm” and care for all who come before us, physicians have moved away from His light and became instruments of evil in the world, subject to the worst of tyrannies. As OBGYNs, we are being asked to hold back from God and to hesitate to answer His call. Because we are fearful of the cost, the pain, the unknown, we no longer trust the Divine Physician nor do we care or serve our neighbors in need. This is the malice found in our soul.
We have become hollow, filled with emptiness and fear. Rather than turn to Christ, we grasp for more of the same: more abortion, more contraception, more sterilization and more secular, sexual education. When we attempt to follow ways other than willed by God, we find loneliness and sadness. We chase idols.
Physicians have stopped treating two patients; OBGYNs are being taught to treat a patient with a disease in her womb. No mercy and no care. Faith and love have gotten a divorce from each other and from ourselves, yet, we are called to care for women in crisis pregnancies and show her how to care for her unborn child. This is Tepeyac’s model of practicing excellent and merciful medicine. As a consequence of doctors being lukewarm and chasing idols, Heartbeat and your ministries heroically and sacrificially give of your time and expertise in meeting the needs of the woman with an unwanted pregnancy.
You are present at the time of crisis and need. But this is not enough. PRCs have to provide ultrasounds because doctors in your communities cannot meet this need.
The medical model of a pregnancy resource center was born out of necessity because we in the medical profession, for the most part, have turned our backs on caring for two patients by eliminating the humanity of the fetus and violating the dignity of the woman. Most doctors, even those of Christian faiths, only see the poor on sabbaticals and not during their daily work, when in truth, there are poor people living in our very own community that need our help. We allowed abortion to become a valid medical practice in the Affordable Care Act because we did not uniformly stand together voicing our outrage.
We abdicated the intellectual and scientific truth of when life begins.
With almost twenty years of experience, Divine Mercy Care (DMC) and Tepeyac Family Center offer a solution.
Abortion and healthcare are NOT political footballs at Divine Mercy Care and Tepeyac Family Center. DMC’s solution has seven practical principles resting on a solid three-pillar foundation of serving, inspiring and unifying when collaborating with PRCs. Nearly two decades of being on the front lines has taught Tepeyac doctors much about combating “lukewarmness” and “idols”.
Tepeyac’s doctors have found a method through sacrifice, hard work and tithing for medical practices to see all patients; those insured and those not insured or under-insured by outreaching to all pregnancy resource centers in our region. Charity, not entitlement, is at the heart of serving our community. Every PRC is different, so we do not force anything on anyone. We offer our obstetrical expertise to care for the woman and the child in the hopes of helping her see the blessing of the child. We introduce her to resources intended to build a stable and strong family and/or support system. Our fiscal approach is called the MERCY Program where we financially cover medical services that the patient cannot afford. We want to be able to do more than save a baby; we introduce them to community services for a continuum of support; we work toward turning around a life and transforming hearts.
We recognize the great work many PRCs do with their medical model of providing ultrasounds to women in crisis pregnancies. Further, Tepeyac provides immediate ultrasounds and doctor visits for PRC patients. We are applying to open Tepeyac School of Sonography (TSS) Certification Program. If approved by the Commonwealth of Virginia, State Council of Higher Education, TSS will offer a 13-week curriculum designed to train your ultrasound technicians and ready them for the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography testing.
Medical care is more than a technical skill. Ultrasound technicians must meet the rigorous professional and safety standards while loving the patients, both mother and baby. This can be taught. Tepeyac shows students how to love and treat patients while fully complying with radiology standards. Additionally, Tepeyac’s standard of providing high quality ultrasound services in a supportive, life-affirming environment ensures that staff respond lovingly to patients who have an abnormal scan.
Our Kristen Anderson Perinatal Hospice Program is Tepeyac’s medical, spiritual and community approach to a woman carrying a terminally sick child. The hospice approach maximizes the time a mother spends with her preborn child and enhances the love available for the family as a whole.
By having a pro-life radiologist and OBGYNs at Tepeyac, we are able to electronically connect PRCs to a medical expert to read and interpret sonographic information. With the internet and open hearts, no distance is too far to provide excellent medicine and excellent resources.
Leading by example, DMC, through Tepeyac, can help doctors in your area realize the critical importance of not simply sitting on boards, or counseling, but actually seeing the client in need as a patient and building relationships. To transform hearts and minds, we actively attract men and women who are pursuing healthcare degrees and help them understand the importance of working with PRCs once they enter private practice. This is not on top of what we do, this is what we do. Collaborating with PRCs is a way to give back to the community in your own neighborhood.
This is not a “zero sum” game. We cannot continue to the “turf wars.” We serve a generous God. DMC can speak at annual banquets to help inspire those in the audience to give generously to this most urgent of causes. When donors and financially savvy people see the cooperative nature of PRC with a medical practice and other services, they are apt to give more generously knowing that they are not duplicating life-affirming services.
It is clear the prolife community needs to be more unified. This is easier said than done. Thankfully, Tepeyac’s approach seems to bring together doctors, PRCs, emergency rooms, maternity homes, social services, specialists, and even churches of various faith traditions. There is a way to live by example the axiom that we can love enough together to make abortion unwantable, children welcomed and families stronger.
Faith and charity is the goal of living. We can overcome the “lukewarmness” and the “idols” by working more closely together. OBGYNs and PRCs need to collaborate. The great work that Heartbeat International and Tepeyac Family Center have accomplished can be improved on, building on what we have done and making abortion unwantable. The above steps are the practical ways this can happen.
Please contact us for a conversation that can lead to the continuing transformation of hearts for our patients, clients and ourselves.
We serve the Giver of Life, and He Reigns.
Nothing, including political climates, cultural shifts, or even the unspeakable worldwide tragedy of abortion, can dethrone the God whose glory is set above the heavens.
This precious truth was woven throughout every aspect of the 2013 Annual Heartbeat International Conference, which included close to 1,000 friends of Heartbeat, including attendees, exhibitors, expert workshop presenters, inspiring keynote speakers, Heartbeat board members, and donors.
Fittingly, the centrality of prayer emerged as a major theme throughout the Conference, as 40 Days for Life National Director David Bereit helped set the tone for desperate dependence upon the living God as the keynote speaker during the Conference’s first evening session.
David was one of eight keynote speakers throughout the four-day event, which concluded with a closing banquet and address from Heartbeat International President Dr. Peggy Hartshorn, who is commemorating her 20th year of tireless service in that capacity, and her 40th year of active involvement in the pro-life movement.
Opportunities for prayer and worship were led in part by worship leader Greg Gober, while opportunities to participate in mass were led by Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, who also keynoted at the Conference.
Conference participants were also given the opportunity to receive prayer during their time in Dallas, thanks to the generous involvement of Refuge House of Prayer and Breath of the Spirit, who volunteered their time to encourage and refresh those on the front-lines of the battle for Life.
The glorious truth that God reigns carries along with it global implications, and this was also reflected at the Conference, where a total of 20 representatives from 11 non-U.S. countries gathered.
These friends served as a great reminder that God’s reign extends to all corners of the world—from the U.S. to Zambia, Australia to South Africa, Mexico to the Philippines, Costa Rica to Austria, Canada to Liberia, and from Germany to Ethiopia.
And these friends were just a sampling of the more than 300 Heartbeat affiliates outside of the United States in over 50 countries. Two of these friends, Pastors George and Sylvester from Liberia, shared an African proverb that became a theme unto itself for the Conference:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
We hope you join us at next year’s Annual Conference, March 24-27 in Charleston, South Carolina!
by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant
On a brisk January afternoon, I found myself positioned between two citadels of American government.
On my right sat the Capitol Building, where I’d spent the morning with Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress®. On my left stood the U.S. Supreme Court Building, where the 40th Annual March for Life would conclude the following day.
As I turned my gaze to the Supreme Court building, I expected to behold its looming columns and take in its hopeful, enduring motto, “Equal Justice Under Law.”
But what I saw surprised me. The majestic façade was covered with scaffolding and a transparent construction curtain. As I learned, the great marble-work of the building’s façade had been crumbling for some time, and renovation was now underway.
What a striking parable of justice, deteriorating. Yet, at the same time, what a striking parable of hope that justice can be—and one day will be—restored.
We live in a world that is plagued with the consequences of a decision made in that very building 40 years ago. When those inside this shrine to American justice decided, 7-2, to legalize abortion on-demand, justice crumbled.
Such a miscarriage of justice under the auspices of “Equal Justice Under Law” must never be forgotten. That’s why Heartbeat launched RememberingRoe.com, which serves as an online memorial to those 55 million unborn Americans who will never see the light of day because of Roe v. Wade.
A few hours before my stroll to the Supreme Court steps, I had the pleasure of watching Matennah—one of three moms who made up the Babies Go to Congress envoy—tell seven of her congressmen the story of how her beautiful twin daughters had been rescued by a Heartbeat-affiliated pregnancy help center.
Twenty-four hours later, the 40th annual March for Life brought 500,000 peaceful protesters to these stately steps. Heartbeat International was there, represented by a group of generous supporters and the sampling of moms, like Matennah, and their babies who have been saved from the violence of abortion.
Following the March, Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., President of Heartbeat International, keynoted the annual Rose Dinner, highlighting the good work pregnancy help organizations to do for women and families. Peggy was followed by New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, chair of the Pro-Life Caucus, who delivered a ringing endorsement of Heartbeat and our life-saving mission.
No doubt, justice has drastically crumbled. But just like the façade of the Supreme Court building, it can be restored.
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