Because we can - should we? A wise society asks that question of every new technology. That is the question the Weld County commissioners have chosen to grapple with in their decision not to fund emergency contraception in county health clinics.
After intercourse, sperm can unite with an egg in the fallopian tube within hours. If that union occurs, an amazing process then begins by which chromosomes from the father and mother are joined together and a new cell is formed. This living cell contains its own complete set of chromosomes different from father or mother. These will determine gender, eye color, temperament and all the many characteristics that will make this individual unique. This is not a potential human being - it is a human being with potential. This is exactly what a young human is supposed to look like on its first day of life. Now, this cell divides and multiplies and begins a six day journey which will end in nestling into the wall of its mother's womb. Here this new life will grow for 9 months until it is time to make its next journey - birth.
Emergency contraception works by blocking the surge of hormones which stimulate ovulation (the extrusion of an egg from the woman's ovary). If ovulation is prevented, pregnancy can be avoided. What is less clear, however, is what happens if the medication is taken after that hormone surge or after ovulation has already occurred. Scientists have come to differing conclusions about this and serious moral concerns have been raised about whether, in some cases, emergency contraception might lead to the loss of a fertilized egg - a life. This moral concern lies at the heart of the Weld commissioners' considerations.
The idea of emergency contraception leads us to look at a much larger and more important issue. The nature of the sexual act is twofold: 1) to form a bond that will help unite a husband and wife together and 2) to beget life. The bond helps create the stable environment so necessary to welcome new life. When modern society embraced the technology of contraception, the sexual act was redefined in a radical and fundamental way. This technology designed to prevent pregnancy allowed for sex without consequences - no babies, no commitment. This redefinition of the sexual act has produced far reaching and painful effects in our culture.
Sex without consequences demands the availability of abortion. The emergence of "the pill" in the 1960's led to a call for the legalization of abortion within a decade. January 22nd marked the fortieth anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. In those 40 years, over 50,000,000 abortions have been performed in America.
For nearly 250 years in our country, until slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment, it was legal for a white man to own a black man - legal, but not moral. The black man was seen as sub-human or not human at all. We look back at those times and wonder how their thinking ever could have been so misguided. A future generation will look back on this era and wonder the same thing about us.
For such a future time to come to pass it will require something far more difficult than the overturning of legalized abortion - it will require a change of the human heart. It will mean recapturing the true meaning of sexual intimacy and restoring it to its proper place within marriage alone. So difficult - but the possibility awakens in us great hope.
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.
by Carrie Beliles
When the annual Berlin March for Life was held last year, my husband, Ben, our four children, our friend Breanne, and I drove the seven hours from where we are stationed with the United States Air Force (Ramstein Air Base), near Kaiserslautern, to downtown Berlin.
On Friday night, we attended a pre-march meeting, with leaders from the pro-life movement here in Germany, as well the Netherlands and members of European Dignity Watch, a pro-life NGO working with the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.
European Dignity Watch is a small, dedicated group of people who do what they do because it is right—not because it’s popular or a good career move—and some of them have been involved in the movement for years.
We encouraged them by relating what we are doing with our center, where I serve as executive director. We primarily minister to American military personnel and dependents, but we also serve locals and foreigners living in Germany who are without access to everything they need to raise their children. Unfortunately, we are one of the only pregnancy help centers in Germany.
The meeting concluded with a prayer, as well as laying out the final details for the next day’s march.
Unlike pro-life marches in the States, the March is extremely intense in Berlin. The counter-protesters were chanting things like, "If Mary would've had an abortion you wouldn't be bothering us now," and, "If you had been aborted we wouldn't be bothered.”
Before we started to march, the organizers asked us to remain quiet, and not to dignify the protesters with a response. The counter-protesters came equipped with whistles, which they constantly blew to try and distract us from hearing the speakers at the beginning of the march.
They continued to try and drown out our singing or speaking with shrill whistles as the march got underway.
The Berlin riot police were out in force, and seemed prepared to put down any real disturbance by the counter-protestors. As we marched along, a burly German priest told us to move into the center of the marching crowd to keep our children safe. Noticeably, there were no other children marching. Our four little children got quite a few smiles, and had a few pictures taken throughout the day.
The organizers handed out large wooden crosses at the beginning of the march, and our 4-year-old, Faith, carried one as she rode in the stroller down the streets of Berlin.
The walk led us along some of the most historically significant sites in world history. We began in front of the Reichstag, which was burned in late January, 1933, serving as the pretext for Hitler’s declaring of martial law. The Reichstag was later restored, and now serves as Germany’s capitol building.
Following the Reichstag, we were almost immediately in front of the Brandenburg Gate, through which Napoleon marched when he conquered Berlin in 1806, and in front of which, President Ronald Reagan said those immortal words to Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
We followed the line marked in the road almost the entire distance where the Berlin Wall had stood from 1961 until 1989, dividing East and West Germany. We marched on past Potsdamer Platz, once divided by the Wall, but where East now meets West in Europe, and turned left onto Leipziger Strasse, heading back east.
We then passed the building that had served as headquarters for the Luftwaffe during World War II and later was the executive building for the East German government.
The dividing lines are much more stark here than in the United States. People here don’t have time for platitudes and half-truths. The sides are as clearly delineated between good and evil as they have ever been in Berlin.
What is also clear here in Berlin, as the whistles of the counter-protestors and the humming of Amazing Grace fade into memory, is that history does change, movements do matter, and nothing stays the same forever.
Just contemplate the tide of history in this place over the last 70 years. What an encouragement to realize that we may one day place abortion on the trash heap of history, along with so many oppressive regimes of the not-too-distant past.
Meanwhile, the killing continues. As must the praying.
Carrie Beliles serves as executive director for Heartbeat Crisis Pregnancy Center at Ramstein Air Base in western Germany.
I was reading through Proverbs when news of the Penn State child abuse scandal broke in late 2011. As the horrific story dominated every inch of the public square, one saying from the wise man stood out most clearly to me:
Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? (Proverbs 24:11-12)
I was so sickened by what I was seeing and hearing about everything, from the grisly details of the events that had occurred—and were even witnessed—to the shameful cover-ups collaborated by football coaches, school administrators, and even sworn officers of the law.
Having worked in collegiate athletics for nearly 10 years, these acts of negligence hit me with a specific force, but no harder than they hit me as a father. I felt anger, disgust, nausea, and helplessness.
But what good would come if all I did was feel these things, and then let them fade away so that I could go on with the rest of my life? Did the sting of this outrage belong in the rear-view mirror?
While my 1-year-old daughter napped one Saturday afternoon, I began to pray that somehow, some way, God would lead me to a calling and vocation where I could play a role in the rescue of those being taken away to death. I prayed, and less than a year later, God—the true and final Rescuer—brought me an opportunity to do just that, with an organization I’d never heard of, called Heartbeat International.
Today, I am so blessed to be playing a role in the effort to hold back “those stumbling to the slaughter.” Most of you who are reading this are in the trenches right now, fighting this battle one life at a time. Some of you have been in this trench longer than I’ve been on this earth.
What an honor it has been to join with you in the battle to hold each life precious.
Together, we hope and pray and labor for the day when abortion is not only unwanted, but unthinkable in our nation, our legal system, and our culture. At the same time, we also realize that abortion may not be going away this side of heaven. In one form or another, the strong will always victimize the weak, right up until the Day when the Judge of the whole earth makes all things right.
Until that Day dawns, our orders are clear: We are to rescue those who are being taken away to death. One child at a time. One woman at a time. One family at a time.
It’s not up to you and me to finally solve these evils. It’s up to each of us to be faithful to do our part, in hope—hope that one Day, we will see these evils ended before our very eyes. Until that Day comes, we’re free to focus on the task at hand without driving ourselves to despair or exhaustion.
The problem is more than you and I could ever handle, and yet, it has already been handled—fully and finally by the death and resurrection of Jesus. We enter into that promise by faith, but it's that same faith that also thrusts us into the vineyard to labor for that which our faithful Savior values.
Take heart. God, the one who “keeps watch over your soul” sees the good work you’re doing. And, he will repay you according to it.
Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit was the first circuit court to rule on government mandates requiring pregnancy centers to post disclaimers and disclosures, declaring that such mandates violate freedom of speech, a constitutional right.
“The Fourth Circuit Court’s decision is a victory for Centro Tepeyac and other Heartbeat International affiliated pregnancy help centers that are rescuing children who were once at risk of abortion by providing practical help and emotional support to mothers who often have been abandoned and abused,” said Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D. “This decision upholding our freedom of speech affirms the life-saving work of pregnancy centers and the importance of providing alternatives to abortion.”
The first case ruled upon by the court was Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County; Montgomery County Council, et al, No. 11-1314 (4th Cir. 6/27/2012) in which the county passed a resolution requiring limited service pregnancy centers to display a sign bearing two statements: “The Center does not have a licensed medical professional on staff. Montgomery County Health Officer encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed health care provider.”
The second case, Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns et al v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, et al, No. 11-1111 (4th Cir. 6/27/2012) originated from Baltimore, which involved a city ordinance mandating pregnancy help organizations to post signage in two languages that “the center does not perform or refer for abortions or birth control services.”
The Fourth Circuit Court slapped down both government mandates as violations of free speech, applying strict scrutiny to its analysis of both laws.
The Court applied the same reasoning to both laws:
These rulings signal a strong victory for pregnancy help organizations, not only in Maryland, but across the country, as challenges are raised to similar attempts in other jurisdictions.
As yet another controversal election draws ever nearer, it's time to refresh on what is—and isn't—allowed for your organization during the election season. Let's take a look at the key do's and don'ts as we come up to the 2020 presidential election.
The first platinum rule for you as a nonprofit and as representatives of the nonprofit is that you may not endorse, support or oppose any specific candidate or political party. Your activities must be nonpartisan. The second platinum rule is that you as an individual—regardless of what your job is—may personally endorse, support or oppose any candidate or political party. To state it again:
Further, if a representative of a nonprofit is asked to speak publicly during an election cycle or specifically asked for opinions about candidates, representatives of a 501(c)(3) should:
Let’s talk about what a nonprofit CAN do:
· A nonprofit can conduct a voter education forum in a non partisan manner…in other words it is not truly nonpartisan if a nonprofit only invites one candidate. The forum must be held for the purpose of educating and informing voters, which provides fair and impartial treatment of candidates, and which does not promote or advance one candidate over another
· A nonprofit can operate a voter registration booth with its name displayed on the booth
· A nonprofit can provide transportation issues to the polls as long as it does not drive only those who will vote for a favorite candidate;
· A nonprofit can target turnout efforts to the people or areas they serve, or population groups, students, elderly, minority groups
· A non profit can continue to do normal lobbying on issues;
· Work on behalf of a ballot measure;
· A 501 c3 can rent or sell mailing lists to candidates at fair market value, as long as it is made available to all candidates.
Further, if a representative of a nonprofit is asked to speak publicly during an election cycle or specifically asked for opinions about candidates, representatives of a 501(c)(3) should:
· Decide who will speak publicly on behalf of the 501(c)(3) organization, so that non-designated staff will not inadvertently say something inappropriate.
· Script responses before talking to reporters.
· Focus on what was said (the issue), not who said it (the candidate). Avoid talking about a candidate’s qualifications or whether someone is a good or bad candidate.
· Avoid discussing a candidate’s record; commenting on a candidate’s record is very close to commenting on a candidate’s qualifications or whether he or she should be elected.
· Avoid talking about voters and making references to the election. For example, instead of saying “Voters will not accept…” say, “Americans won’t accept……”
· Avoid identifying the candidate by name. It is better to say: “During the recent Republican debate, statements were made about X. We disagree…”
· Be very cautious if a reporter asks about which candidate is better on the 501(c)(3)’s issues, or whether the 501(c)(3) agrees with a statement a candidate made. Issue the disclaimer: “well, as you know, we are a nonprofit and are not permitted to endorse, support or oppose any candidate.” Then go back to scripted statements and rules above.
· A 501(c)(3) organization may urge all candidates to take a stand or act on an issue, without commenting on specific candidate statements. For example, a 501(c)(3) organization may want to urge both major party candidates in the presidential race to take more forceful action on the issue of illegal guns and violence. A 501(c)(3) making this kind of communication should be careful to avoid criticizing any candidate, and should focus on the need for all candidates to take action.
What can a nonprofit NOT do:
· A nonprofit cannot post anything on its website or in its office that favors or opposes a candidate for public office
· A nonprofit cannot distribute printed material that favors or opposes a particular candidate
· A nonprofit should monitor any content linked to its website
· A nonprofit cannot do political fundraising for any candidate
· Do not use the “magic words” vote for vote against a particular candidate;
· Contribute time, facilities or money to a candidate;
· Do not coordinate activities with a candidate;
· Do not publish anything in official newsletters, brochures or publications of any kind that favors or opposes a candidate;
· Do not Increase the organization’s level of criticism or praise of an official or devote a special issue of its publications to an incumbent’s favorable or unfavorable record.
· Distributing more copies than usual of the publication during the campaign year.
· Focusing on the personal character or qualifications of an incumbent or campaign contributions of the incumbent.
· Connect the organization’s criticism to voting in an election. For example, publicly remarking that an official is anti-immigrant and mentioning that people should register to vote.
· Pointing out that a particular candidate’s actions (as opposed to official actions) or views are incorrect. For example, a 501(c)(3) should not urge the public to withhold campaign contributions for a Senator’s re-election if she votes for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” or remark that one candidate would be better at creating green jobs if elected than another candidate.
Heartbeat is constantly trying to get the word out about the excellent work of pregnancy help organizations around the world. Whether it's consistently sharing recent news about pregnancy help organizations over at PregnancyHelpNews.com or sharing the real story of pregnancy centers in a world where the media is biased against them at PregnancyCenterTruth.com, we are committed to making sure that the pregnancy help movement has a voice in the public conversation.
Over at Pregnancy Help News, we share daily news, opinion, and commentary related to the pregnancy help movement and it's place in the larger pro-life movement. You can even sign up for a weekly email update of what's going on in the movement to be delivered to your inbox every Monday. Or... share a story about something new or interesting happening at your center. In other words, we want to share what you may need to know and tell your story here!
Pregnancy Center Truth is built to combat the lies told by Big Abortion about the pregnancy help movement. There, anyone can see the reality laid out clearly with studies to back up claims and sharable quick stats built for social media. It's just one way we defend the reputation of pregnancy centers around the world.
Every year, Heartbeat International brings moms and their children to Washington, D.C. to remind our congressmen and women that pregnancy help centers are good for America. Babies Go to Congress, held every year close to the March for Life, shows our elected officials at the federal level the amazing way lives change with the help of grassroots organizations like yours. There's no replacement for the flesh-and-blood testimonial of a mother holding her child to show lawmakers that pregnancy centers are good for america.
A key piece of information Heartbeat International always hopes to underscore through the event is the privately funded, non-profit status of pregnancy help organizations. Unlike most meetings congressional offices hold with their constituents, there is never any request for public funds as part of the event, a fact that also stands in stark contrast to highly profitable, publicly funded abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood.
Since beginning the program in 2009, over 100 women and children representing over 50 centers have visited over 200 congressional offices.
Your center can benefit from participating in Babies Go to Congress this January. Click here for more information and take this opportunity to share during a truly historic moment in our nation's history!
Over the years, pregnancy centers have been under attack by abortion advocates from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and many others. Heartbeat International is there to both officially refute the unfounded claims (through news coverage at PregnancyHelpNews.com), and to pass along needed information to affiliates through emails, conference calls, live or recorded webinars, and more.
So wether it's a protest from "The Handmaids", a "glitter bomb" in the mail, or a campaign of false reviews on your organization online, Heartbeat International is always there to help affiliates respond appropriately.
Learn more about Heartbeat's work of defending the pregnancy help movement here. (Note: Must be a Heartbeat affiliate to access)
In the U.S. the politics of abortion has involved every aspect of government – executive, legislative and judicial branches; state houses and city halls; Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court; even school boards and health officials. After all of the political wrangling of the past four decades the issue is still far from settled.
Yet, the girl who walks into our care isn’t thinking about the “right” determined by seven justices in 1973. She isn’t considering the legal definition of personhood that would apply to her unborn child. She’s focused on a choice that she will carry the consequences of for the rest of her life. The politics are not even remotely a primary concern.
Kind-hearted, compassionate, pregnancy help folks often similarly eschew the politics and the public arena to focus their energies on this non-political client. They are not expecting to change a law at the nation’s capital, but instead are intent upon touching the life (lives) sitting in their counseling room. And while the inconclusive debates rage in far away capitols, the clear result of a baby being born shows the everyday effectiveness of our compassionate efforts.
Yet, the politics of abortion has spilled over into direct legislative attacks on pregnancy centers, and now abortions will be funded through state and national healthcare. For many it has been easy to avoid the politics and focus on the clients. Unfortunately, the politics has come now to us. Nathan Burd, former Public Policy staffer at Heartbeat, said it this way, “You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.”
Worse yet, limiting ourselves to only championing non-political compassion service efforts to reduce abortion is to gravely miss the reality that politicians are intent on increasing abortion through the legislative process. Even amidst the recent move of a majority of the populous to self-identify as “pro-life,” abortion is no longer just a “right” that is allowed by a Supreme Court decision, but it has become a healthcare option that must be funded and supported by everyone.
What we want less of, we tax. What we want more of, we subsidize.
Subsidies for abortion are set to increase at exponential levels in the U.S. through new health care laws. The recent Supreme Court decision clarifies that a tax will be levied against those who fail to buy insurance that must cover abortifacients. (Not even religious organizations are exempt.)
This must motivate our pregnancy help movement to get even more involved with political process. It is hypocritical for the interventionist to miss an opportunity for prevention.
Intervening with compassion will always be our primary calling. Yet missing the opportunity for prevention by influencing politics is to virtually guarantee that we will only have an increasing number of people in our counseling rooms who need our intervention. True compassion is doing both – intervening with those who are in the valley of decision and preventing others from ever needing our intervention.
Can we be non-political? Perhaps it is possible at an organizational level where we purposefully avoid certain “political” activities due to our tax status or for public relations positioning. But it seems less and less possible in this era for each of us individually where politics is not only coming to our door but poised to dramatically increase the number of clients that we might serve.
Shelly and daughter Kiree at the Capitol.
Heartbeat’s Babies Go to Congress in the news:
Heartbeat’s Babies Go to Congress® puts a face on the very divisive issue of abortion, or, more precisely, what to do with an unexpected child. This July, Heartbeat International brought its tenth group of moms and babies to our nation’s capital at a critical time to speak life to power.
Once again, God equipped those whom He called to Heartbeat’s Babies Go to Congress. We had four affiliates participating from California, Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas, bringing four moms, two infants, and two children. Dividing into teams, we held 14 congressional meetings in one day.
July’s Capitol Hill adventure brings our total number of participants to 150 since Heartbeat’s Babies Go to Congress began in January 2009. That includes 34 affiliates from 23 states along with 86 moms and babies. We have held nearly 200 congressional meetings.
Those in attendance were thrilled with this Heartbeat event describing it as “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The moms involved did a fantastic job of explaining how pregnancy help organization staff and volunteers cleared away obstacles so they could welcome a new little life. Each mom, in her own engaging way, explained to her elected officials that even though there was pressure to abort her baby, the pregnancy help network made it possible to embrace motherhood.
One of the things that made this event unique is that we had a mom representing the Choctaw Nation.
Shelly Louis of Durant, Okla., not only had the opportunity to meet with her representative, but was very well received by U.S. Representative Cole, who happens to be the only Native American congressman. Shelly also met with both of her U.S. senators. Senator Coburn even took her aside and, with his hand placed affectionately on her shoulder, thanked her for choosing life for little Kiree.
Additional highlights included a meeting with Congresswoman Bachmann who shares our passion for life. Congresswoman Hartzler shared a wonderfully touching adoption story with our group. She also encouraged everyone to keep up the good work.
While the most pro-abortion administration in U.S. history promotes taxpayer sponsored abortion and mandates anti-child policies – because childlessness is cheaper – every pro-life American has a heightened responsibility to clarify the importance of providing alternatives to abortion.
Through Heartbeat’s Babies Go to Congress, we provide this opportunity for moms to let policy makers know that pregnancy help centers are good for America. It is our goal that U.S. lawmakers from every state understand that alternatives to abortion prevent coerced abortions.
Click here to find out how you can be considered for our next trip to Washington D.C. January 23-24, 2013.
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