Excerpted from The Power of Pregnancy Help, a book telling the story of the first 50 years of Heartbeat International and the pregnancy help movement. The Power of Pregnancy Help is available wherever books are sold.
Each of our three co-founders, Dr. John Hillabrand, Lore Maier, and Sister Paula Vandegaer, brought special gifts to the establishment of AAI, and they incorporated into our work the values, purposes, and principles that characterized not only AAI’s first twenty years, but also have become the foundation for the growth and development of Heartbeat International over the last thirty years. In the previous three chapters we have tried to capture some of their special gifts and the life experiences and expertise that have left clear marks on the pregnancy help movement both then and now.
The name founders carries with it the concept that these first leaders laid down the foundations for the organization they started, Alternative to Abortion International. And today, that organization, now Heartbeat International, is indeed built on those foundations. However, our founders believed, and Heartbeat believes today, that they were building for the entire pregnancy help movement, then and now – not just for those that became or would become official affiliates. Anyone who provided life-affirming pregnancy help was and is welcome, all learn and contribute, all work together to advance the mission of saving and changing lives. So, the foundations were built and are maintained now for the entire pregnancy help movement.
. . .
Always More Than Saving Babies
All three of our co-founders had a view of our work that encompassed more than saving babies. Those who describe the mission of pregnancy help centers as “saving babies” are only describing a part of our founders’ vision and mission and part of the movement’s vision today.
Our founders focused on both mother and baby, and, in fact, on the family and the entire culture. They saw that we were involved in this work to serve women in need and help them so they could save their babies, but also (especially in the work of Sister Paula) that we were in a position to help women understand their true womanhood. Dr. John and Lore’s writings and talks also show that they viewed an attack on the sanctity of human life in the womb as an attack on society as a whole and on all humanity that would have profound ramifications. Lore tried to warn of the effect of abortion not only on women themselves and the family, but also on the perpetrators (the abortionists), and even on those who merely stood by and observed (the general public).
The first logo that was chosen for AAI, used in the very first communications in early 1972, was called “Hearts of Gold.” It is not a baby, nor is it a mother and child. The logo features two larger gold hearts (with some lines and markings, the result of life’s scars, experience, maturity, and wisdom) surrounding a tiny, unmarked, pure golden heart that represents the innocent human child. The logo shows that we need to protect, shelter, and nurture that child, born and unborn. The hearts of gold represent the family as God intended it. With the family relationships disrupted and in need of healing, the larger, sheltering hearts could be those of us in this movement protecting the child. Heartbeat’s logo has changed to the “Heart of the Future,” but Heartbeat International still features our “Hearts of Gold” on our premier Legacy Award since God’s plan for the family is still at the heart of our mission. One of the amazing things about the early AAI Academies (Conferences) was the diversity of expertise represented in the “Faculty” or conference presenters. To help the emerging centers with program development were marriage and family experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, doctors and nurses (with expertise on pregnancy and maternity care, fetal development, labor and delivery, nursing, sexually transmitted diseases, infertility and more), early childhood education experts, researchers, social workers, mothers, fathers, and more.
Programs developing then within the first centers (despite the early term EPS or Emergency Pregnancy Services) and first maternity homes were focused not just on the crisis intervention need for women coming in for a pregnancy test, but on parenting and family unification. For the “negative test client,” programs were developing to help her understand the risks of sexual intimacy outside of marriage. Centers were developing referral networks in their own community and finding like-minded potential partners who could amplify these messages – for example, in schools and in the culture at large.
Today, if you attend a Heartbeat International Conference or any other gathering of pregnancy help organizations around the world, you will find the same. We are about much more than saving babies. Our foundation stones are motherhood, fatherhood, healthy families, and a pro-family culture.
by Lisa Bourne, Pregnancy Help News Managing Editor
Heartbeat International's Worldwide Directory of Pregnancy Help has surpassed 7,000 listings, boosting the celebration of the pregnancy help network’s half-century of service. The inaugural directory consisted of just under 200 entries, highlighting the massive growth of the movement over the last 50 years.
This resource is used by pregnancy help organizations globally to refer clients for help outside their own service area when needed or for specific help that they do not provide themselves (such as housing). Centers also use it to connect with other pregnancy help organizations for networking. Heartbeat affiliates receive a complimentary print copy of the annually updated pregnancy help ministry reference.
The Worldwide Directory, available in both print and online, is the leading comprehensive list of pregnancy help. We publish the Directory each year to be the most complete list of life-affirming pregnancy help, including provider locations across the globe whether Heartbeat affiliates or not, to connect those looking for help with those who provide it. Heartbeat has identified life-affirming programs in more than half of the countries of the world.
The Directory has its origins with Heartbeat’s founding and its value as a means of connecting pregnancy help organizations has been a component in the pregnancy help movement’s progress over 50 years.
Heartbeat’s founders had a worldwide vision of the pregnancy help movement back at the pregnancy help network’s beginning. Co-founder Lore Maier wrote hundreds of letters to contacts around the world as the first executive director, in the process sharing this vision of a connected movement.
She and co-founder Dr. John Hillabrand traveled widely at personal expense inviting others to start pregnancy help centers in their own countries and become part of the federation of Alternatives to Abortion International (AAI - now Heartbeat International).
It became a priority for AAI to keep track of all the emerging service centers, whether or not they officially became affiliates.
This 2021 Worldwide Directory contains more than four thousand entries for the U.S. This includes traditional pregnancy centers and medical clinics, maternity support organizations, medical service providers, maternity homes and other residential programs, professional social service agencies, nonprofit adoption agencies, and abortion recovery programs. The Worldwide Directory also has 2,849 service locations in 113 other countries.
Our Option Line uses the Worldwide Directory for referrals to centers outside the U.S. and Canada when requests for help are received.
Heartbeat is the first network of pro-life pregnancy resource centers founded in the U.S. and it the most extensive network in the world, with more than 2,900 affiliated pregnancy help locations in more than 60 countries around the world working to provide alternatives to abortion.
The Worldwide Directory not only shows us the vast reach pregnancy help provides to women each and every day, but also allows us to connect those in need with the caring, compassion services they deserve.
by Betty McDowell, LSW, LASVice President of Ministry Services, Heartbeat International
Saying Happy Birthday to an organization may seem a little odd to some of us since we usually save that sentiment for living human beings. However, organizations are very much living breathing organisms. You can see some of the similarities in the chart below.
Source: Olsen, J. (7/22/2017). Your business is a living, breathing, organism: Interesting patterns in business and in nature. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/ybq4tgrf.
So, let us look at our relationship to this living, breathing organization called Heartbeat International.
I was thinking back to something I read many years ago. I do not remember the secular author’s name, but I do remember what he said. As a PhD. relationship expert he was asked, “what is the most important question we should ask ourselves about a person we might want to have a lifelong relationship with?” The expert responded by saying, “is this person kind?”
This seemed so basic to me, I must admit I laughed at how simple his answer was.
The expert went on to say that while being kind demonstrates true consideration and respect for others, it is also evidence of good character. Is this person kind to all? Are they consistently and genuinely kind both in public and in private? He warned that even a narcissist is often publicly kind to lure others into unhealthy relationships. Observing the consistency of kindness is key to answering the question, is this person kind?
I have been blessed to be married to a kind man and can testify that my genuine, meaningful, and lasting relationships are marked by the common denominator of kindness. My dearest relationships are with kind people. Not perfect people, but genuinely kind people.
While being kind is a virtue we can attribute to people, I also think KIND can be attributed to the pregnancy help movement and more specifically to Heartbeat International. Heartbeat is consistently and genuinely kind. Being kind is part of Heartbeat’s past, present, and future.
Heartbeat and our affiliates consistently demonstrate acts of generosity, charity, compassion, and tenderness towards those in need, those who have no voice and who deserve love and respect.
To be kind also means being willing to confront and to speak the truth to a person, an organization, a system, and/or a government. Heartbeat has been and continues to be willing to be a truth-telling voice to leaders, pregnancy help organizations, the public and government. Confronting issues, even within the pregnancy help community, means disagreements, problems and conflicts get addressed and often resolved or at least clarified. Sometimes the kindest act one can do is to confront.
Dr. Hillabrand, one of the founders of Alternatives to Abortion International, now known as Heartbeat International, in his kind way, eloquently addressed Congress 50 years ago with the following words.
Human life, if it is at all important in our time, must be defended across the board. Any arbitrary exceptions, especially when they become legalized, are potentially dangerous to us all. The most terrible pages of history are those which tell of regimes founded on, or at least tolerant of, disregard of the intrinsic values of human life. The most glorious and courageous are those which recite the contrary. No society or civilization, in the better sense, has survived inhuman principles. Adding abortion through government policy or inadvertent permissiveness to the present state of national and international unrest would suggest little optimism for the survival of our society as we have known it.
The same year Dr. Hillabrand gave this speech, he along with Lore Maier and Sr. Paula Vandegaer founded AAI. An OB/GYN at retirement age, a refugee from Nazi Germany, and a young Catholic nun started something KIND. AAI, now Heartbeat International, a KIND - and one of kind - organization.
K – Knowledgeable. Services provided by Heartbeat and their affiliates are knowledge based. Having a growth mindset learning all things about and connected to pregnancy help is a high priority. From fetal development, pre-natal care, community resources, adoption, parenting, marriage, domestic violence, abortion, drug addiction, homelessness, human trafficking, ultrasound, and pregnancy loss – just to name a few. Creating an Academy providing training, in-person, in print or online. An Academy where we can continue to grow in knowledge and understanding, gleaning from professionals in the areas of medicine, mental health, education, and technology. We in turn offer knowledge and services to our clients helping them make life-giving choices for themselves and their children.
I – Innovative. Heartbeat International holds to our values (Commitment of Care and Competence) while developing and implementing new products and processes to better serve the pregnancy help community. Just look at OptionLine answering 1,000 or more contacts a day – continually improving in efficiency and effectiveness. APRN is a continually growing network ready to assist women with abortion pill reversal. Next Level software development allows us to see in real time the trends happening in pregnancy centers. We live in a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous*) which requires innovative and creative thinking to carry out our mission.
*Bennis, W. & Nanus, B. (1987). Leadership skills & strategies: VUCA world. Retrieved from https://www.vucaworld.org/.
N – Nuanced. Our worldwide network celebrates the opportunity to nuance programs and services. We are Heartbeat International, and while we may understand what works in reaching clients in Houston, Texas, we also know it may not work in Johannesburg, South Africa. Subtle or perhaps not so subtle differences in how services are delivered is expected. Heartbeat encourages nuanced services to better reach people in need.
D – Determined. The founders set our course and we continue to be determined to make abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations. We are determined to change the world through LOVE. The LOVE Approach - We listen and learn, open options, give vision and value and extend and empower women to choose life. We are determined to bring hope to those who need it most.
As we gathered for the 2021 Heartbeat Conference to celebrate Heartbeat’s 50th birthday last week, I was reminded once again of our KIND heritage.
May we continue to thrive and grow as we pledge to be KIND - Knowledgeable, Innovative, Nuanced and Determined.
When we come together at gatherings like this, we see who we are, and we are reminded of the bond we share. We become more visible to ourselves and more visible to our world. Heartbeat does not look like we did 10-20-30-40-50 years ago, nor should we. Even months and years from now we will look different than we do today AND we will still be KIND – kind, a most important virtue for a lifelong relationship.
To this living breathing organization called Heartbeat International I say, Happy 50th Birthday.
The 2017 Pregnancy Help Institute Ultrasound Track was a great success!
Heartbeat International was incredibly blessed to have Tammy Stearns, RDMS and Bryan Williams, RDMS facilitate the ultrasound training portion of PHI. Tammy and Bryan, along with several other volunteer sonographers, spent the week training ten participants, including nurses, an RDMS, a Nurse Practitioner and a physician, from Pregnancy Centers around the country. Trisonics and Preferred Medical Systems, in a joint collaboration, provided ultrasound machines for use during the week of training.
The ultrasound training not only contained a didactic portion and scan labs, but a spiritual component as well. Tammy opened each day reminding the class that this is a ministry, not just a skill, and that this ministry is something that can only come out of God’s overflowing presence in our lives, and not from within our own selves. Each day, Tammy’s devotions emphasized how the spiritual side of things was a big part of the ultrasound ministry.
“I appreciate that this training was tailored to working in a CPC. I learned not only technical training but the spiritual aspect of giving these babies a voice for the first time.”
Each morning there was a classroom-style teaching which covered topics from physics and QA in the ultrasound setting, to anatomy of mom and baby, and abnormal findings while performing ultrasounds. For many of the participants, this was the first time they had undergone such a training, and the curriculum was designed to be real and applicable.
The afternoon scan labs were a huge success. There were 7 instructors who were involved in the hands-on training, and about 40 “models” from the community who volunteered their time (and bellies) for the students to take turns scanning. In total, about 200 scans were performed by the class (about 20 per student) which went towards the recommended 50-75 training scans that is recommended for Limited OB Ultrasound training. The students learned the basics of scanning a typical client that may present in the PRC, as well as the unique instruction on how to dialogue with the abortion-minded client during a scan.
“This was a very informative training. Each sonographer had a helpful hint to give, each one gave critical information for getting good ultrasounds. The didactic information was explained fully and in a helpful way. I believe I got way more than my money’s worth.”
The overall success of this year's ultrasound training will prove to be a huge tool in the PRC tool-belt as more qualified medical professionals are learning the ultrasound skills they need to be successful in the collective quest for life.
Tiffany and her son, Jonathen, in 2016.
by Carrie Beliles, International Program Specialist
Last week, I received a Facebook message in the middle of the night. Most Facebook messages in the middle of the night are no big deal, but for me, this specific message was.
Why? Because God knew this message was exactly what I needed to hear at that specific moment.
I needed to wake up, to be shaken out of where I was mentally and reminded of a principle God taught me four years ago.
It is not about me. It is all about Him.
Let’s go back to four years ago, when I found myself the newly appointed executive director of a pregnancy help center in Germany. While I didn’t speak German, the center actually served a unique, English-speaking clientele. Our abortion-vulnerable clients consisted entirely of women connected to the largest U.S. military base outside of the United States.
And, I took on this role by accident. No kidding, by “accident.” Totally under-qualified, I had never worked in the pro-life world. I’d never been trained or even so much as volunteered at a pregnancy center.
I did however, have a background in the fight against human trafficking, where I worked directly with victims, so I understood there are hurting people all over the world who needed to be shown compassion. My only real qualification was God had been teaching me to love others and meet them where they were.
More importantly, I was also hurting. Having just walked through a recent trial in my own life, my marriage had weathered several years as a military wife, complete with constant separations that are part of the job description. Add to that, I was pregnant with my fourth of now five children.
Because of these—what I considered—disqualifying factors, I assumed I wasn’t ready to minister to others. After all, shouldn’t I fix myself first, then move on to help others? That’s how I was thinking, but of course, I was wrong.
Learning to Handle the “Tough Questions”
As the newly installed executive director, my board sent me to the 2012 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in Los Angeles, hopeful that a one-week training would help start me on the right foot.
In a city famous for its movie stars, dreams and miracles, I was slightly overwhelmed with the actual size of the conference. Heartbeat, I learned, is an international organization uniting over 2,000 affiliates working toward a common life-saving goal. Just walking the halls and meeting others who were doing this amazing work all over the world was an inspiration.
Though I was encouraged, I felt out of my league. Every one else at the conference seemed to be a much better director, board member or volunteer than I could hope to be. All week long, I kept thinking they all must know what they are doing. It was a humbling experience, to say the least.
The last day of conference, I attended a session titled “Answering Tough Calls” with Bri Laycock, the director of Heartbeat’s 24-7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line. Having served with Option Line since shortly after its formation in 2003, Bri was confident and it seemed she was able to answer everything thrown her way. She was professional, ready and prepared—everything I felt I wasn’t.
At the end of the workshop, there was a Q-and-A session. An attendee raised her hand and posed a situation she recently faced. I sat back and listened, thinking, “I have no clue what I would do in that situation.”
The client, it turned out, was pregnant in the midst of a marriage that was falling apart due to infidelity. Multiple families were involved, and the baby this woman was carrying would be of a different race from the client’s husband and her other children. There was no hiding the breech of trust.
I was overwhelmed just picturing the scenario. The consensus approach from the class, and from Bri, was, “Keep her on the phone, keep the connection open, and take it one day at a time.” I remember thinking how glad I was to not be dealing with that situation.
Two weeks later. Tiffany called the hotline.
I had just closed up the center, picked up my daughter from kindergarten and was on the autobahn heading home after a long day when the phone rang.
One Day at a Time
Tiffany’s first question was whether we perform abortions and, if so, when could she make the earliest appointment. As I listened, mother-to-mother to someone desperate with fear, I offered to meet up and talk. When someone, like Tiffany, needs to talk, they just need someone to listen. I could do that.
A mother of three young boys, a married family friend had taken advantage of Tiffany while her husband was deployed in the Middle East. Now, she was pregnant. My heart sank as I realized I knew the wife whose husband was the father of Tiffany’s baby.
My thoughts went back to that session at the Heartbeat International Annual Conference. I’d only been back a couple of weeks, so the conversation—and that fleeting sense of relief that, at least I wasn’t dealing with this situation—was still fresh in my mind.
I asked myself, “What would Bri do in this situation? How would she handle this ‘Tough Question?” How on earth could I help to “fix” this?
That’s when Bri’s answer at the workshop crystalized in my mind: Keep her on the phone. Keep the connection open. Take it one day at a time.
As I got to know Tiffany and listened to her story, God began to teach me to take one step at a time, one day at a time. I wasn’t going to “fix” Tiffany’s situation. There was no formula. There were very few words of wisdom I could offer.
I only had the love of Christ, which I have seen and experienced in my own life, and which I could draw upon to share with someone who was hurting, alone and scared. Extending love was all Tiffany needed at that moment. Looking back, I’m sure that, had I tried to impart counseling methods or a fixed scenario, I may have missed an opportunity to actually love her.
The Miracle of Love
This life of love starts right where we are. I didn’t have years of training or relevant experience; it was a core principle that came to light in the “Tough Questions” workshop that set me on course. Stay on the line. Keep the connection open. Take it a day at a time.
Often, we count ourselves out even before we give ourselves the chance to see how God works through us. Whether it’s our perceived gap in our qualifications, preparation or “life-togetherness,” we need to remember that it’s God who works through us, and He’s the one who qualifies the unqualified.
Hitting my Facebook message folder four years after we first met, Tiffany’s note jarred me out of the same thought pattern to which I—and I’m guessing, you—tend to default.
Tiffany is now a homeschooling mother of five young boys. She’s going back to school to pursue a degree in crisis counseling. She reached out to let me know that, because of the way God worked through our relationship, she wants to do the same for others.
What a powerful reminder of the God who supplies our every need “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” I know He has supplied mine. What a blessing to know He’s done the same for Tiffany.
You can read Tiffany’s story here.
by Dawn Lunsford, Associate Director of Academy
Heartbeat Academy is celebrating an important milestone, as more than 3,000 students from around the world attended and completed training online in May, 2016 alone.
Although this number of students is certainly cause to celebrate, what we celebrate goes beyond these 3,000 students as we look to the ripple effect ongoing training and continuing education has on the pregnancy help movement worldwide.
Heartbeat International originally launched our Academy in 2011 to make training on key manuals and dynamic speakers just a click away, empowering pregnancy help organizations right where you are, in whatever issue or situation you are facing, with on-demand training.
The software and technology that power Heartbeat Academy provide plenty of numbers to identify, study, and celebrate.
We celebrate as students rack up hundreds of training hours each month, thousands a year. We celebrate each hour of credit toward the Life Affirming Specialist designation earned. But what brings us true joy, true cause to rejoice, is when we hear about the effect ongoing training has had on our students themselves and the organizations with which they are involved.
The most important thing students learn in the Academy is not in a course, but is in realizing the profound effect ongoing training can have on staff—not to mention clients, organizations and communities.
I can’t help but smile at God’s planning when learning that a center with a successful Abortion Pill Reversal story first heard about the procedure and the APR network from their volunteer nurse who logged on because she needed the contact hour credit a year and a half ago.
Or, at the director who took a course on the Commitment of Care and Competence in case it would be good for a new staff member who had some downtime, only to find the content she needed for her next in-service.
Heartbeat Academy is positioned to equip you to have moments like these with the click of a mouse.
In addition to the pivotal information available in an on demand format, in 2013 Heartbeat Academy launched its first live hybrid course, ConCERT: Consultant Continuing Education Renewal and Training. ConCERT is an opportunity for staff and volunteers to train directly under Heartbeat staff.
The most common remark from students who have finished the course is, "This wasn't completely new information, but now I can see how it works in the big picture." Our students grow in confidence, skill, and understanding bringing all of that back to their organization and their community.
It’s not uncommon to speak to these students months or years later and hear how the course not only helped them grow professionally by earning the Life Affirming Specialist designation, but helped their organization as well. Our ConCERT training does so much to help leaders grow in essential areas like increasing their reach through media coverage, expanding services, and building partnerships with other organizations.
So, while we wait and see what ripple effects we’ll see from the 3,000 students working in the Academy this past month, we rejoice at the opportunity to serve and invest in you. Whether by helping affiliated centers train volunteers through a private course, offering credit for nurses, or tackling current events with a dynamic webinar, the Academy is just one way Heartbeat is committed to coming alongside and continuing to help equip and empower pregnancy help organizations around the world.
Join over 3,000 students by choosing a class from the Heartbeat Academy today!
by Jennifer Minor, Editor/Writer
If you’ve visited our job registry lately, you know that Heartbeat International is looking for an Office Assistant right now. (By the way, please share this link with anyone who might be interested in serving the administrative needs of Heartbeat.)
We hope you’ve had the pleasure of speaking with our soon-to-be former office assistant, Hannah Sapp. While we’re sad to see Hannah move on, we are thrilled to tell you that Hannah’s move will be no further than down the hall—to our 24-7 contact center, Option Line.
“It’s all an adventure,” Hannah says. “While I’m leaving a team I love, I’m also joining a team I love.”
Hannah has been a light at Heartbeat Central. Coming with a heart for teen girls and sexual integrity, she was excited to learn more about what serving young women looks like from a nonprofit perspective when she first joined our team in early 2014.
With an eventual hope of starting a transitional housing project for vulnerable young women, Hannah has had a front-row seat to Heartbeat International’s burgeoning partnership with the National Maternity Housing Coalition, which started in April of 2013.
Hannah certainly has learned a lot on the Ministry Services team. Besides being one of the first to answer phone calls, she never misses a chance to ask a question and find out more about what our affiliates face, from client issues to legal issues, offering prayer and passing along prayer requests to the rest of our team.
From day one, Hannah has shown a learner’s mentality, gaining a grasp on a wide variety of issues our affiliates face every day.
But something was missing.
Hannah’s heart for teen girls inspired her to pick up a few hours a week at Option Line to serve that community with a message of hope, love, and compassion. Very quickly, it became clear that Option Line is where Hannah is being called full-time for the next season in her life.
The job of an Option Line consultant is unique and challenging. The 650 women (and sometimes men!) who reach out to Option Line every day via phone, email, text and live chat are in desperate need of another person. That’s why Hannah and her fellow consultants direct each caller to your pregnancy help organization, where they can get the in-person help they don’t always know they need.
It’s Hannah’s position at Heartbeat International—passing on encouragement and feedback, equipping pregnancy help leaders, and praying with staff and affiliates—that has brought her to a place where she can serve women at Option Line well.
“I can send callers to our affiliates because I have seen the value of their centers,” Hannah says. “I have confidence that when they go there, they will receive hope.”
So as Hannah moves down the hall, take the chance the next time you call in to say hi and thank her for all the work she's done—and will do—for you and for the women we’re serving together.
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.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - With over 40 years’ experience in the pro-life movement, Heartbeat International president Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., has been selected to chair a plenary panel on the sanctity of life at World Congress of Families IX, meeting Oct. 27-30 in Salt Lake City.
The plenary panel is comprised of five major voices in the pro-life movement, each representing a distinct sphere of influence. An addition to from Hartshorn’s expertise in the pregnancy help community, panelists include LifeSiteNews’ co-founder and editor John-Henry Westen, Americans United for Life president and CEO Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D., Life Action founder Lila Rose, and Dr. Alveda King, Priests for Life’s director of African American outreach and niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“This panel represents some of the very best of the life-affirming pro-life movement,” Hartshorn said. “It really is a pleasure to serve alongside such excellent leaders, especially when I reflect on how far our movement has come. We have a solid foundation to continue building upon, and it’s clear our future is bright.”
The upcoming meeting at the World Congress of Families marks the third for Hartshorn, who has spoken at past events in Russia and Malta. Heartbeat International is a sponsor of the meeting, which features thousands of pro-family participants from over 80 countries.
Later in the week, Hartshorn will join a panel chaired by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary assistant professor of ethics Evan Lenow, addressing the topic, “How the Culture Undermines Life and Family.”
A past recipient of President’s Volunteer Service Award under President George H.W. Bush, the J.C. Penney Golden Rule Award, the Defender of Life Award from Students for Life and the Cardinal John J. O’Connor pro-life award from Legatus International, Hartshorn and her husband, Mike, began housing pregnant women in 1975 and launched Columbus, Ohio-based Pregnancy Decision Health Centers in 1981.
Hartshorn, the first paid executive of Heartbeat International, took over the organization when it had only 250 affiliates back in 1993, and has since grown the network to nearly 2,000 pregnancy help centers, medical clinics, maternity homes and nonprofit adoption agencies.
Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy resource centers in the U.S. and the largest and most expansive in the world. Since 1971, Heartbeat has supported, strengthened and started pregnancy help organizations, including pregnancy medical clinics, pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies all over the world. Currently, Heartbeat serves over 3,000 affiliate locations on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion.
We are a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian association of faith-based pregnancy resource centers, medical clinics, maternity homes, and nonprofit adoption agencies endorsed by Christian leaders nationwide.
...is a world where every new life is welcomed and children are nurtured within strong families, according to God’s Plan, so that abortion is unthinkable.
...is to Reach and Rescue as many lives as possible, around the world, through an effective network of life-affirming pregnancy help, to Renew communities for LIFE.
To achieve our mission, we do the following:
We REACH those who are abortion-vulnerable through Option Line's® 24-hour call center and cutting-edge website, www.OptionLine.org.
"Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me..." - Psalm 144:7
We RESCUE those who are reached through our life-support network of pregnancy centers providing true reproductive health care, ministry, education, and social services where lives are saved and changed.
"Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; protect me from men of violence. " - Psalm 140:1
We RENEW broken cities around the world, by developing pregnancy centers where abortion clinics are the only alternative for abortion-vulnerable women.
"He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted...to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor... They will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations." - Isaiah 61:1-4
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