by Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Board Chair
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
As we end the 5 decades when the Roe v. Wade decision “ruled” how abortion would be dealt with in our country – both on a personal level and in our laws, society, and culture – we’d like to take this moment to look back on that Roe-world. My husband and I were witnesses of it all.
I reflect here at those fifty years and the damage left behind, but also reflect on how God has brought forth good out of the evil. Because He has, we can all Take Heart!
In hindsight, we can all see the carnage left by Roe, probably at least 50 million abortions (an average of about 1 million per year) in the US, with not only the babies as victims but also their mothers, fathers, and families, plus all those who were complicit either through participating some way in the abortion or by standing by and doing nothing. Abortion became, and still is, a big, money-making business.
The carnage spread around the world as the US exported, through the United Nations and through our popular culture, the “abortion mentality.” We funded, with our tax dollars, population control and abortion worldwide, and we still do.
However, at the same time, God’s people stepped up in every area of life in our society and worked unceasingly to fight the abortion juggernaut and “overturn Roe.” That was finally accomplished, of course, in the Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022, through the grace of God and the work of the amazingly creative “movement” that also grew and developed over these 50 years.
Just to clarify, the Roe v. Wade decision, handed down by the Supreme Court on Jan. 22, 1973, essentially said that abortion as a choice was somehow covered in a “right to privacy” (that was not written down in our Constitution). It said that abortion was “between a woman and her doctor.” It could only be regulated somewhat, but only for the woman’s health in the second trimester, and, in the third trimester it had to be allowed for the “health” of the mother. A companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, extended that to “mental health” so, essentially, abortion was legal during all 9 months of pregnancy.
At first, pro-lifers who had begun to form into groups and get involved in educational and political efforts during the 5 years prior to Roe (when activists were trying to pass laws legalizing abortion state by state) were devastated. It seemed that we could do nothing to stop abortions. The number of abortions surged, and infant adoptions (the primary choice in an unexpected pregnancy for unmarried women before Roe) dropped dramatically.
But the good news is that the pro-life movement began to develop dramatically after Roe. My husband and I joined the movement with a phone call to our local Right to Life chapter, found in the phone book, on January 22, 1973. Apparently, thousands of other people were motivated to do the same, year after year!
The first strategy proposed to “overturn Roe” was to amend the Constitution with a Human Life Amendment but that proved divisive (even with the growing pro-life movement) and never gained traction in the first two decades after Roe.
Amazingly, creative legal minds (in cities, counties, and states) also began trying to “chip away” at what was at first thought to be a “right” with no restrictions. The first effort that I remember was the Akron (Ohio) Ordinance, passed by a city council in 1978. It included parental notification, a waiting period, rules on fetal remains, and other common-sense provisions. Although it was finally declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1982, it pioneered other examples of the “incremental approach” to fighting and limiting abortions, including the 15-week limit to abortions in Mississippi (because the unborn child can feel pain then) that eventually was the basis of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision that brought us into the post-Roe era.
Meanwhile, during the five decades of Roe, other “arms” or branches of the pro-life movement, developed a laser focus on many other priorities: on prayer, especially in front of abortion clinics, on civil disobedience, on regulating abortion clinics, on education – debates at first, then entire programs and curricula for schools and churches, on websites, social media, and other vehicles of popular culture -- film, music, art, literature, and more!
And I have saved the “best” (in my opinion) for last – the pregnancy help movement! The five Roe decades brought to life all of YOU reading Take Heart! You are an essential part of one of the 3,000 pregnancy help centers across our nation that are now saving thousands of babies and mothers per week from abortion, offering love and support, offering hope and healing to those who have had abortions, providing for the health and safety of new families, providing pro-life medical care on many levels, housing homeless pregnant women and helping them get “on their feet” again, providing help to trafficking victims, sharing the Gospel, linking to churches, social services, businesses, and “movers and shakers” in your community, and doing even more!!!
Between 1968 and 1973, before Roe, a couple hundred (at the most) pregnancy help centers existed in the USA, thanks to the Lord working through our pioneers – especially through Heartbeat (then called Alternatives to Abortion, founded in 1971 to link and grow this network).
The original housing services were limited (girls were housed in private homes and then small group homes). The centers were small, all volunteer, many operating out of the offices of pro-life OB/GYNs (who had to send urine test samples to laboratories and get back the results in a few days!). Some volunteers manned hotlines and met with girls and women who thought they might be pregnant on park benches and at restaurants. From these small seeds, a mighty network has grown! (Read much more about our growth over these 50 years in The Power of Pregnancy Help: The First Fifty Years)
One of the best fruits of the Roe era, in my opinion, has been the unity developed among Christians called to this work, especially among Catholics (the first to “answer the call” in the late 1960’s and 70’s) and Evangelicals (who joined the movement in massive numbers in the 1980’s). We experience it within Heartbeat and see that we are always better together!
God’s people never gave up and never gave in over the last 5 decades. Some of God’s pro-life warriors have passed into eternity already, but so many others have taken their places, and the work goes on!
Our battlefield has changed post-Roe. Once focused on a national field, we now must include all 50 states, plus our cities, counties, townships, and neighborhoods. We are back to where we were, in one sense, when the battle was raging in the states from 1968-73, right at the grassroots level.
At least one other thing has clearly changed – while pregnancy help centers have been under “attack” since the 1980’s (in the media, by local and national legislators and courts), the attacks have now become more angry and more physical, fueled by fear of the loss of a “right” to abortion and the woundedness of those who have experienced abortion or are part of Big Abortion. And in the midst of it, we should rejoice. It is our effectiveness that makes us a target, and the enemy has certainly taken notice.
So Take Heart as we continue to serve those taken in by the lie of abortion because in many ways, our work is beginning again.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
by Jennifer Wright, Editor/Writer
On Monday evening, September 19, we received a letter from Senator Warren (and six others) fraught with bizarre accusations and demanding answers to a number of questions by October 3. Here’s the thing though, this letter is nothing more than a political stunt. While it makes demands, it invokes no authority. It throws wild accusations, but never points to an actual situation that has actually happened, and only postulates hypothetical future situations. And of course, TIME Magazine was aware of this letter at almost the same moment we were and reached out to us for comment.
And yet, we’re going to respond. We’ve already released a statement, as you may have seen at Fox News, Catholic News Agency, Life News, or in our own email announcement earlier this week.
Why? Because this is what we do – and this is an opportunity.
We know that your work is on the frontline. You’re serving clients, changing hearts, saving lives, and transforming communities. If something like this came directly to your office, the best move might not be to take time away from that front-line service. But we have those resources, and we’re here to represent you, our affiliates, so you don’t have to take time away from your mission.
And honestly, this is an opportunity for the pregnancy help movement. We can speak to the reality and share your good work because of this letter.
We don’t have anything to hide, and this gives us the opportunity to tout the great work of our Next Level CMS team and the high security standards we’ve set for any data we maintain in order to serve women. In fact, Next Level maintains the same security standards (and the same software platforms) of any hospital records system. Our Sample Policies & Procedures and Sample Medical Policies & Procedures manuals include policies surrounding document retention and security standards for client records. These policies have been reviewed by legal counsel inside and outside of Heartbeat, and we stand by them.
Neither Heartbeat, Option Line, nor Next Level have ever had a security breach related to client information (or of any kind). Any data we collect has always been secure, safe, and legal.
So look out for our final response to this letter. We’ve been sharing with reporters and media contacts for months about your support and care for women in unexpected pregnancies. We’ve been making sure we address data privacy concerns, counter accusations with truth, and provide statistics on the impact of the pregnancy help movement. This letter shines light on these statements more than any of our previous interviews have allowed for.
Thank you, Senators, for this PR opportunity.
In this chaotic world, we thank God for your spiritual leadership and guidance.
The post-Roe opinion offers unique opportunities for us to speak about Life, offer the compassionate hand of Life, and unite with Heartbeat and our network to bring pregnancy options and support to pregnant moms. This is our time, and we can help you educate and motivate your church family!
The Power of the Pregnancy Help Movement:
Learn About Life-Affirming Pregnancy Help:
More on the Pregnancy Help Movement:
Special Message from Pastor Wootton, Heartbeat Board Member
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.
January is Sanctity of Human Life Month, and this year Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (SOHLS) is celebrated on Sunday, January 22nd.
This is a day we set aside every year to focus on the value of each and every human life since President Regan proclaimed it in 1984. SOHLS has had great impact year after year and this year, the first since the overturn of Roe v. Wade, it has even more significance.
We want to make sure that you are equipped with the resources you need when connecting with your local churches to build relationships and raise awareness for the incredible work you are doing to reach women in your community, not only on this special Sunday but all through the year.
Click any of the images below to download and share them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter using the hashtag #SOHL
Anne Pierson is a memorable soul – A pioneer. A founder. An author. A mentor. A mother & friend. Surrounded by housing peers, this noteworthy woman was awarded a Lifetime Legacy award on October 28 from the National Maternity Housing Coalition. “Anne has always been one of my role models since the moment I met her,” Peggy Hartshorn, Board President of Heartbeat International described, “I admire her both as an individual and as an example of ministry as a couple.”
Anne loves singing, puzzles, and striking up conversations wherever she goes. Her love takes the form of being able to focus deeply on the individual in front of her and speak to their heart. She gives “words” as a spiritual ministry to encourage and direct. She has lived a rich life of relationship, having touched many lives with her expertise and genuine love.
As an only child, Anne longed for the large extended families she saw in her childhood neighborhood. Her husband Jimmy had a deep yearning to be a father even as a youth. Both of these desires were realized in the unique extended family they created together. They wed when Anne was 18 years old and together, they had two daughters, Holly and Shelly. As youth ministers early in their marriage, Anne and Jimmy encountered a young woman who was pregnant due to rape. This encounter began a lifetime journey of service to women and children.
Anne and Jimmy welcomed over 200 pregnant women into the context of their personal home, opening their doors to women in need of support. The family life that was shared together is the source of many of Anne’s great stories and insights and Anne has stayed in touch with many of these families for years and years. Their personal efforts became formalized in the founding of a nonprofit, House of His Creation, in 1972. Following many years of direct service, the Pierson’s were publicly recognized in a speech made by President Reagan. This prompted other individuals and ministries needing help to reach out and eventually, led to the development of a new ministry.
Anne began writing materials and in 1984, founded Loving & Caring, an international ministry to provide resources, materials, and practical tools for those in the pregnancy help movement. The My Baby and Me workbook series remains a valuable tool in the pro-life movement, especially in supporting the exploration of adoption. Anne played a key role in the establishment of the National Christian Housing Conference.
As a speaker, she has brought the pro-life message to a variety of settings including conferences, churches, and retreats. A natural storyteller, Anne brings a spark of humor and light-heartedness, illustrating her teachings with tales from her life. She is passionate about the impact of fatherlessness, the beauty of adoption, and the model of family.
“Anne’s years and years of service have shaped the maternity housing community in profound ways,” Mary Peterson, facilitator of the National Maternity Housing Coalition, noted. “She introduced and gave shape to a new model of ministry which inspired many to take up the work. Her work continues in the leaders she has formed who continue to serve with great conviction and passion.”
Over the course of their service, Jim and Anne received Heartbeat’s inaugural Servant Leader Award in 1996. Years later, they also received a 2011 Legacy Award, part of a very small community of those who have been honored with both. Following Jim’s passing in 2012, Heartbeat established a scholarship in his name to support a housing organization in attending the conference.
In recent months, Pierson has announced that the next season of her ministry will be closer to home. A resident of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Anne is involved with ministries and churches in that community. She has a rich family life including 3 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Speaking with conviction, Hartshorn summed up Anne’s legacy in this way, “Anne is an incredibly wise woman – versed in human nature, able to see what women really need, and willing to pour herself out with genuine love.”
As the Lifetime Legacy award noted, Anne Pierson has indeed “fought the good fight and finished the race.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
. . . . .
Like these? Check out videos from past Pregnancy Help Appreciation Weeks. You are loved. And the work you do, admired.
And don't forget to check out the deals of the day and share the love on social media!
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.
Pregnancy Help Appreciation Week was designed by Heartbeat International to honor those working within the pregnancy help movement. Through their work, women and men receive the compassionate support they need when facing a life-changing decision. They walk alongside families throughout the pregnancy and beyond, blessing them with pregnancy tests, emotional support, ultrasounds, parenting classes, and so much more at no cost.
From volunteers to executive directors, nurses to receptionists, each person working in a pregnancy help organization has been gifted with the passion to advance the culture of LIFE! And for that, we thank you!
This year's Pregnancy Help Appreciation Week is November 6-10, 2023
If you haven't heard of Pregnancy Help Appreciation Week before, you should expect special deals, thank-you messages, and extra prayers this week.
Plus! We'll be holding a drawing at the end of the week where one lucky winner will get a fun gift basket from us at Heartbeat!
Download any of the images below to share on Facebook, Instagram or tweet and show your love for the pregnancy help movement using the hashtag #ThankAPregnancyCenter
Unplanned GrandparentingDiscussing the Adoption Option in a Post Roe AmericaCoaching Your Client for ChangeSex Trafficking and Abortion*Empowering Clients with Doula Support
How to Identify (and use) a Media Hit PieceTurning Legislators into AlliesPreparing Your Clients for Public SpeakingOpioids and Pregnancy*Expansion: Adding a Maternity Home to your Pregnancy Help OrganizationServing Women with Mental Illness in the Maternity HomeWhy Not Birth Control
How to Identify and Assist Victims of Human TraffickingAnswering Tough CallsIdentifying Fake ClientsAdvancement Bootcamp
We've got the last five years of Conference recordings available all the time from Heartbeat Academy, but, today only, you can get the bundle on a topic of your choice for 75% off. Maybe you want to see what's going on in the housing presentations, the fundraising workshops or medical advancement content. This is a great chance to do it at a steep discount!
*This training offers 1.0 contact hours for nurses who meet all requirements. Heartbeat International is an approved provider through the California Board of Nursing, Provider Number 16061.
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