CHICAGO – Headlining with syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, the 2017 Heartbeat International Annual Conference kicks off Wednesday and runs through Friday, and is expected to draw over 1,200 guests from 15 countries to Chicago’s Hyatt Regency near O’Hare Airport.
The conference is the 46th in Heartbeat International’s history, this year taking place in a state where pro-life medical professionals—including many who work and volunteer at nonprofit pregnancy clinics—are fighting a recent change to state law signed into effect by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Gov. Rauner signed a legislative change to Illinois’ Healthcare Right of Conscience Act midway through 2016 that would force doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to refer their patients for abortions against the deeply held religious conviction of those professionals. The law, which also applies to nonprofits that expressly exist to offer alternatives to abortion and receive no government funding, is being fought in state and federal courts, with one judge granting a temporary injunction against the law in late 2016.
The location of the conference—which varies each year—comes at the perfect time, says Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey, who has called upon affiliates in the state to defy the law.
“We plan these conferences several years ahead of time, so we feel particularly energized and encouraged to see all the pieces fall into place for Chicago in 2017,” Godsey said. “We’re looking forward to seeing great things happen with our speakers, ministry partners and special guests all week.”
A member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors, as well as a Fox News contributor, Cal Thomas is a past recipient of the William F. Buckley, Jr., Award for Media Excellence. He will be speaking Wednesday afternoon ahead of Ryan Bomberger, an Emmy® Award-winning creative professional who is an outspoken leader within the pro-life movement after having been conceived in rape and going onto become an adoptive father.
The keynote lineup also includes David and Jason Benham, former professional baseball players and successful realtors whose HGTV show was canceled in 2014 because of their candid Christian beliefs. Jill Stanek—a former RN in Oak Lawn, Ill., who resigned her position when hospital administrators would do nothing to stop infants born alive during abortions from being left to die—will also speak at the event, along with Dr. William Lile, an ob-gyn who bought out an abortion facility in South Florida and has spent the last two decades educating audiences on abortion procedures.
In addition to the keynotes, the conference includes 90 workshops and 15 full-day courses, including over 20 learning opportunities approved for nursing contact hours by the California Board of Registered Nursing.
“Pregnancy help centers and medical clinics are good for America,” Godsey said. “This is a primary opportunity for those of us within this vital community to link arms and better equip ourselves to save lives in a life-changing way.”
About Heartbeat International
Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and the largest network in the world. With 2,100 affiliated pregnancy help locations—including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies—Heartbeat serves on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion.
COLUMBUS, OHIO – In what it hails as the most powerful pro-life event on Capitol Hill, Heartbeat International is bringing seven mothers—and their children—to Washington, D.C. this January to tell elected officials how they chose life with the help of a community-funded pregnancy center.
The event, “Babies Go to Congress,” takes place Jan. 26, the morning prior to the annual March for Life, and is Heartbeat International’s 15th such visit to the nation’s capitol since 2009. In the previous trips, 113 mothers and their children have visited a total of 265 offices—including those of both Democrats and Republicans.
In each visit, a mother who has rejected abortion with the help of a pregnancy help organization has the opportunity to tell her story, alongside both her child and the staff from the center that helped her choose life.
“This is one event Planned Parenthood could never dream of pulling off,” Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey said. “Pregnancy help centers empower women to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in an unexpected pregnancy. This is a powerful platform for us to both show and tell the truth that pregnancy help centers are good for America.”
The group this year is made up of two mothers from Ohio, as well as one each from North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona, Texas and Wyoming. Though six of the mothers are bringing with them children 4 years old and younger, one mother—Nikki Pinkley from Branson, Mo.—is bringing her 14-year-old daughter to the event.
Together, Nikki and her daughter, Alexis, illustrate the positive life-long impact of that nation’s 2,600 pregnancy help centers.
Nikki was raised in the church and had recently graduated high school when she found out she was pregnant. Finding help at Options Pregnancy Clinic in Branson, she not only chose life for Alexis, but the staff at Options encouraged her to keep pursuing her education and career goals.
Today, Nikki is a closing in on a decade as a licensed professional counselor and is working on her doctoral degree in psychology.
“My hope is that every young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy will find the help she needs to face the challenges of being a single mom,” Nikki, who later married, said. “It’s not easy, but I am living proof that the future is what you make of it. Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you. I found the help I needed, plus a lot of inspiration at Options Pregnancy Clinic.”
About Heartbeat International
Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and the largest network in the world. With 2,100 affiliated pregnancy help locations—including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies—Heartbeat serves on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion. For more information, see www.HeartbeatInternational.org.
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Local pro-life pregnancy help organizations have a new way to grow the support of their community, with the launch of YouSaveBabies.com, a web platform that connects donors with the life-saving work of pregnancy centers, pregnancy medical clinics, maternity homes and nonprofit adoption agencies.
Launched by Heartbeat International, the world’s largest network of pregnancy help, YouSaveBabies enables groups and individuals to promote and raise funds for the life-saving outreach of their choice.
Ideas for starting a fundraiser—which can be promoted via social media channels—include races and other personal goals, birthdays, in memory of loved ones, or as a way to coalesce the support of local church groups around a local pregnancy center. Starting a fundraiser is as simple as selecting an organization and filling out a brief fundraising form. All donations—less credit card transaction fees—go directly to the organization of choice.
“We’re confident YouSaveBabies will play a vital role in what Heartbeat International is most committed to doing—advancing life-affirming pregnancy help at the local level,” Heartbeat International president Jor-El Godsey said. “Pregnancy help organizations are rescuing lives and helping to build strong families every single day. Donors and other supporters are invigorated to see that, and YouSaveBabies is a great way for them to connect.”
The giving platform utilizes FundEasy, web software by Ministry Sync that has helped faith-based nonprofits raise over $35 million since its rollout in 2010. Individual pregnancy help organizations can choose to embed a YouSaveBabies giving badge on their donor websites to raise awareness for newly unveiled platform.
Heartbeat International affiliates in the U.S. and those available through Heartbeat International’s 24-7 contact center Option Line (1-800-712-HELP, OptionLine.org) are automatically listed in the YouSaveBabies network, which includes over 2,000 pregnancy help locations.
“This is a great step forward for our friends on the local level, and it’s another way we can work together to build a culture where no woman ever feels so alone or coerced that she feels abortion is her only choice,” Godsey said. “Pregnancy help provides compassionate support and real choice, and these life-saving organizations have a new friend in YouSaveBabies.”
About Heartbeat International Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and the largest network in the world. With 2,000 affiliated pregnancy help locations—including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies—Heartbeat serves on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion.
COLUMBUS, OH - Less than two months into the calendar year, 2016 is shaping up to be a major marker in Heartbeat International’s history. The network is welcoming its 2,000th affiliated pregnancy help organization and celebrating the 13th anniversary of its 24-7 pregnancy helpline, Option Line.
Called into existence by local pregnancy centers in 1971 as the first-ever network of pregnancy help, Heartbeat International’s 2,000th affiliate is First Choice Pregnancy Center, a medical center offering free ultrasound scanning, STI testing, pregnancy testing and more in Weatherford, Oklahoma, home of Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
The center’s executive director, Kathy Gibson, whose journey to pro-life work began shortly after she experienced an abortion, attended Heartbeat International’s Pregnancy Help Institute in Dec. 2015, along with her executive assistant.
“In 20 years in this work, I have never experienced anything like it,” Gibson said of the Institute. “From there, joining Heartbeat International was a no-brainer. I feel like Heartbeat is in touch with who we are and where we are, and we love the personal touch that Heartbeat offers.”
Option Line (1-800-712-HELP; OptionLine.org) represents one of the central visions of Heartbeat International’s founding generation—comprised of pro-life ob-gyns and an unsung hero of the Holocaust—of a hotline connecting callers with help near them.
Since answering its first call in 2003, Option Line has responded to over 2.35 million contacts, including phone calls, live chats, texts and emails. The helpline answered over 243,000 contacts—650 every day—in 2015. Option Line also increased its web traffic in 2015 by launching a new iteration of OptionLine.org, and has expanded its capability of connecting contacts directly to local pregnancy help to over 500 locations.
Overall, Option Line refers to 2,250 pregnancy help organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“It’s incredible to think of the children who are becoming teenagers this year who may never have been if not for Option Line,” Bri Laycock, director of operations for Option Line, said. “We are convinced now more than ever that local pregnancy help is what makes the difference between life and abortion for so many mothers. That’s why our energies have always been—and will always remain—focused on connecting callers and website visitors to pregnancy help people near them.”
At 2,000 affiliate locations worldwide, including a presence on every inhabited continent, Heartbeat International continues to be the largest network of pregnancy help.
Hosting its 45th Annual Conference March 29-31 in Atlanta, Heartbeat International announced a leadership transition in early January, as Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., the organization’s president of 22 years, took on new responsibilities as Chairman of the Board, promoting longtime vice president Jor-El Godsey as only the second president in the 45-year history of the network.
COLUMBUS, OH - Cindi Boston, who helped start and has led successful pregnancy help center in Missouri as its CEO since 1999, has been named Heartbeat International’s Vice President, it was announced Tuesday.
The announcement comes just days after the organization named former President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., as Board Chair and promoted former Vice President Jor-El Godsey to President. Boston, whose involvement in the pregnancy help community dates back to 1989, had previously served on Heartbeat International’s Board of Directors starting in 2013.
“From the time we were started by pregnancy help people back in 1971, Heartbeat International has always believed in the strength and expertise of our network, and Cindi is a perfect example of this,” Godsey, who has been involved in life-affirming efforts since 1988, said. “We have admired Cindi’s strengths as a leader ever since we first met her, and it is truly amazing to think about what God has in store for Cindi and for Heartbeat International in coming years.”
Boston chaired the initial board of Springfield, Missouri’s Pregnancy Care Center in 1998, helping to turn $2,000 of seed money and a mailing list into an organization that has served more than 265,000 expectant moms, dads, and students over the past 15 years.
Boston has brought several of the parents who chose life—along with their children—to Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress annual event in Washington, D.C., and is leading one of the six teams preparing for the event Jan. 21.
A 2011 recipient of Heartbeat International’s Servant-Leader Award, Boston has developed relationships with local and state politicians as a member and Board Chair for Missouri’s Alliance for Life. Her efforts helped cultivate a positive environment in the state legislature that adopted its 2011 Resolution Honoring Pregnancy Care Centers and, more recently, increased its partnership with pregnancy help centers through its Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.
With Boston on board as Vice President, Heartbeat International’s senior leadership team brings more than 60 years of direct involvement with local pregnancy centers between Boston, Godsey, and Senior Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell. All three hold designations as Life-Affirming Specialists through Heartbeat International's Academy.
COLUMBUS, OH - Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International’s President for the last 22 years, has been selected by the organization’s Board of Directors to serve as its new Board Chair. The change goes into effect Thursday, Jan. 7.
The first full-time president in the organization’s 45-year history, Hartshorn is now resuming a role she held from 1990 to 2004 at Heartbeat International. She was also a founding board member for Columbus-based Pregnancy Decision Health Centers, dating back to 1981, giving her over 36 years of experience steering an organization from a board level.
Along with her fellow board members, Hartshorn’s first action in her new position has been to appoint former Vice President Jor-El Godsey as Heartbeat International’s new President, a change that is also effective immediately. A long-time pregnancy center leader on the local level dating back to 1988, Godsey has served as part of Heartbeat International’s senior leadership since 2006.
“We are so pleased, as a Board of Directors, to extend this call to Jor-El Godsey as our organization’s new President,” Hartshorn said. “Jor-El has established himself as a great leader, both within our network of life-affirming pregnancy help and more broadly, among our peers in the international pro-life community. We have every confidence that he will continue to lead Heartbeat International into a new era of excellence as we strive together to make abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations.”
Shocked when the Supreme Court handed down its landmark ruling on Roe v. Wade in 1973, Hartshorn and her husband, Mike, thrust themselves into the pro-life arena immediately. They opened their home to pregnant women beginning in 1974, then served together to open a pregnancy help center and pregnancy helpline in Central Ohio.
Hartshorn has written much of Heartbeat International’s core training materials for staff and volunteers at local pregnancy help organizations, including The L.O.V.E. Approach, which was first released in 1994 and is now in its third edition. She was also instrumental in founding Option Line, a pregnancy helpline serving the U.S. and Canada that has reached more than 2.4 million women with life-affirming pregnancy help since first answering the call in 2003.
As Board Chair, Hartshorn will now focus the majority of her time on crafting new training manuals and building upon her 2011 release, Foot Soldiers Armed with Love: Heartbeat International’s First Forty Years, with writing that connects the pregnancy help community into the larger pro-life community.
A leader and director at local pregnancy centers from 1988 to 2006, Godsey holds a Life-Affirming Specialist designation through Heartbeat International’s Academy, and, like Hartshorn, is a widely sought-after speaker among pregnancy help organizations throughout the U.S. and globally.
Major accomplishments under Peggy Hartshorn’s presidential tenure:
Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and now the largest and most expansive network in the world. With nearly 2,000 affiliated pregnancy help locations—including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies—Heartbeat serves on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion.
Tweet This: @HeartbeatIntl's Danielle M. White brings experience from @AllianceDefends, @ThomasMoreSoc
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Joining a team that serves a network of nearly 2,000 affiliated pregnancy help organizations and over 8,500 pro-life pregnancy help individuals worldwide, Danielle M. White, J.D., has been named legal counsel for Heartbeat International.
White replaces her predecessor, Ellen Foell, who served in the capacity from 2012-15. A member of the Ohio State Bar Association, the Columbus Bar Association, and the Christian Legal Society, White also serves as an Allied Attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom.
A recipient of the prestigious Blackstone Fellowship while a law student at Ave Maria School of Law, White studied the bioethical issues surrounding a recently developed human cloning procedure in London. She also gained experience as a summer associate for the Thomas More Society, which defends the traditional family, religious liberty, and the right to life.
“We are very pleased to welcome Danielle to our team,” Vice President Jor-El Godsey said. “Her credentials speak for themselves, but what has impressed us more than anything is Danielle’s heart for pregnancy help. She is truly committed not only to the cause of life, but to serving the women and families our network works so tirelessly to reach.”
White first became involved in the pro-life movement when she began attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C., as a middle school student. She subsequently joined the pregnancy help community at centers and maternity homes in Ohio and Florida while an undergraduate at Franciscan University and a law student at Ave Maria School of Law.
White, who served as senior editor for the Ave Maria Law Review in law school, will oversee the content development for Heartbeat International e-publications On the LeaderBoard and Capitol Matters, which are targeted to affiliated individuals of Heartbeat International.
Tweet This: "We exist to empower a woman with true choice. That's why @naral attacks us." @PeggyHartshorn
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Responding to a report released Monday by abortion advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America, Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., pointed to what she calls the fundamental difference between “true” and “false” reproductive health.
NARAL’s report, “Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie: The Insidious Threat To Reproductive Freedom,” represents several years of opposition to the 2,500 pregnancy help organizations operating independently in the United States, most of whom are fully funded by local and private donors.
In its 24 pages, NARAL’s report features 107 citations. However, 92 of those (86 percent total) come from its state and local chapters, and eight more are from Planned Parenthood’s research arm, The Guttmacher Institute.
“The sole purpose of every pregnancy help organization is to provide the love and support every woman deserves in an unexpected pregnancy,” Hartshorn said. “We exist to empower a woman to make the healthiest choice for all involved. That is why NARAL attacks us with these false and flimsy allegations.”
Hartshorn, who attended the Diocesan Family and Life Congress in Manilla over the past weekend and trained Heartbeat International joint affiliation partners serving throughout the Philippines, pointed to the good work of pregnancy help organizations, both in the U.S. and all over the world.
She is author of Heartbeat International’s top-selling volunteer training resource, The LOVE Approach—first published in 1994—which teaches a truly woman-centered approach.
“No woman should ever feel so alone, coerced, or hopeless that she ends her child’s life through abortion,” Hartshorn said. “That’s why, in every corner of the globe, Heartbeat International affiliates and others provide all the facts about pregnancy—including the baby’s development and the many serious physical and psychological dangers of abortion.”
“This report is an attack on the truth and true reproductive freedom. Only a fully informed choice can be a true choice.”
Tweet This: "This report is an attack on true reproductive freedom." @PeggyHartshorn
Tweet This: Father of #prolife movement created legacy of life, family, true reproductive healthcare
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Responding to news of the death of Dr. John C. Willke, a key pioneer in the pro-life movement, Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., has issued the following statement:
“We are all saddened to hear of the loss of Dr. Jack Willke, who many call the father of the pro-life movement,” Hartshorn said. “When I became president of Heartbeat International in 1993, we became colleagues as leaders of national and international organizations, but before that, he was a dear friend and a mentor to me.”
[Click here to see video of Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn's comments on Dr. Willke's passing.]
Willke, 89, died Friday, Feb. 21, at his home, according to a press release from Life Issues Institute, an organization he and his late wife, Barbara, founded in 1991.
The Willke family’s work in the pro-life arena began in the 1960s, when the couple started producing and distributing slides and brochures detailing the facts about fetal development and abortion procedures. Dr. Willke served two terms (1980-83, 1984-91) as president of the National Right to Life Committee.
His 1985 book, “Abortion Questions & Answers: Love Them Both,” helped shape the national pro-life movement’s dialogue to what Heartbeat International has called a “woman-centered approach.” Heartbeat International honored Dr. Willke with its “Servant Leader Award” in 2003.
“We owe so much to those early medical leaders, who knew that true healthcare for women involved respect not only for the woman, but her unborn child. What a tremendous example they have been—and are—as we continue to carry on their legacy.”
Hartshorn, whose career in the pro-life field began as president of the Columbus, Ohio, chapter of Right to Life, worked closely with Dr. and Mrs. Willke when both were involved with the organization. It was Willke’s brochure and slides, “Life or Death” that served as Hartshorn’s initial introduction into pro-life work.
Hartshorn appeared in “Dr. Willke, A Pro-Life Legacy to Last a Lifetime,” a documentary on Dr. Willke’s life and legacy produced by Life Issues Institutes in Jan., 2015.
“I remember so many things about Dr. Willke, and one of those things is the example of family that he embodied. He and his late wife, Barbara, were together in this movement, and I believe that is such an important thing as we commit ourselves long-term to stand for life and a culture of life. We need the help and support of families in this movement.”
About Heartbeat International Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy help organizations founded in the U.S. (1971), and now the largest and most expansive network in the world. With nearly 2,000 affiliated pregnancy help locations—including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies—Heartbeat serves on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion. For more information, see www.HeartbeatInternational.org.
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Heartbeat International, the world’s largest and most expansive network of pregnancy help centers, medical clinics, maternity homes and non-profit adoption agencies, has released its 2014 Annual Report, which reviews the organization’s 43rd year of life-affirming work.
Highlighting the group’s list of 2014 achievements, its 24/7, 365 pregnancy helpline, Option Line®, answered its two millionth contact since it launched in 2003. After answering initial questions via phone, text, live chat or email, Option Line consultants seek to route a caller directly to his or her local pregnancy help organization to find in-person help during a difficult or unexpected pregnancy.
Tweet This: Heartbeat's Option Line answered its two millionth contact in 2014.
The contact center answers over 17,000 contacts every month from the U.S. and Canada, and now has Spanish-speaking consultants available 72 percent of every 24-hour cycle, with a 2015 goal to make Spanish-speaking consultants available 24 hours per day.
“A 24/7 pregnancy helpline has been at the very center of our life-saving vision since the day Heartbeat International was first formed,” President Peggy Harthsorn, PhD., who has served as president since 1993, said. “To see this vision become reality—and to think of the millions of lives directly rescued and impacted by Option Line—is truly satisfying and speaks volumes to the power of God and the faithfulness of our supporters over the decades.”
Hartshorn, who was recognized by Students for Life as a 2015 Defender of Life in late January, also highlighted Heartbeat International’s role in furthering the work of SOS Vita, a pregnancy helpline operated by Italian affiliate partner Movimento per la Vita, with technological upgrades and training in Heartbeat International’s Talking About Abortion resource.
Included in the 2014 milestones, Heartbeat International welcomed its first-ever affiliate in mainland China. The organization’s founding executive director, whose name is withheld for security reasons, was presented with a check for $10,000 at the 2014 Heartbeat International Annual Conference, with all funds coming by way of contribution from the network’s 1,800 affiliate organizations on every inhabited continent.
Heartbeat International’s 2014 Annual Report can be viewed in its entirety here.
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