by Mike Spencer, Project LifeVoice
In May, I spoke at a large church in Indiana on the sacredness of human life. At one point in my message, I stated, “There are no disposable people. We are each a part of God’s plan to sanctify, or mature, one another. The unborn child diagnosed with Down syndrome and the aging parent whose mind has been ravaged by Alzheimer’s needs us, and we need them. God uses the imperfections and the neediness of others to mature us.”
Immediately after the worship service ended, a smiling young mother cradling an infant approached my wife and me and said, “Hi, my name is Dani, and I want to introduce you to my son. His name is Samuel. He has Down syndrome, and he is perfect.” It was a touching moment, and the warmth and pride with which she introduced us to her son expressed beautifully what I had just spent 35 minutes trying to convey. A Down syndrome diagnosis coupled with the often loud, intimidating voices of “enlightened” abortion activists could not suppress the maternal love of this proud mother. Dani understood what so many in our culture do not, namely that “every good and perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17). Indeed, her little Samuel is a good and perfect gift!
This story powerfully illustrates the stark difference between the pro-life position and the “pro-choice” position. When pro-lifers gaze upon an ultrasound image of a developing child in utero, we see a fellow image-bearer who should be loved and protected, regardless of whether he or she has an extra chromosome. Conversely, abortion supporters look at that same child and see only “medical waste.” Pro-life political scientist Hadley Arkes sardonically describes these abortion enthusiasts as, “people of large natures, with sensitivities cultivated to the most exacting liberal temper, and so they are prepared to engage their sympathies for all species of hurts suffered by the mass of mankind.” (Arkes, 2022, p. 2) Unfortunately, however, their cultivated sympathies do not extend to the unborn. Although they have what Arkes describes as the “most generous reflexes” toward every politically approved victim group, they think nothing of injecting an unborn baby’s heart with a lethal dose of potassium chloride and calling it “reproductive justice.” They are to be pitied for such a morbidly defective worldview which robs them of the ability to value that which is most valuable.
Friends, contrary to the narrative that has been pressed onto us by pro-abortion politicians and Hollywood elites, we are the inclusive and tolerant ones—not them. We don’t discriminate against the weak and vulnerable or minority groups. Whether the children destroyed by abortion would have lived to become future inventors or future competitors in the Special Olympics is irrelevant. Einstein counts and so does the child with an extra chromosome.
We are the real champions of human worth and human equality. And we’ll keep on fighting to the end because like this young mother, we recognize the intrinsic and inestimable moral worth of every human being, and we consider it one of life’s greatest privileges to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…” (Proverbs 31:8)
Hadley Arkes, Natural Rights and the Right to Choose, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 2
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.
Notre Dame’s Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) applies scientific evaluation methods to better understand and unleash effective poverty interventions. LEO works side-by-side with our service provider partners at no cost to design and implement a research approach that’s both rigorous and respectful of every person it involves.
LEO has partnered with five homes to launch a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the impact of emergency maternity housing. As a byproduct of participating in the study, homes receive grant money, weekly and direct support (both virtual and on-site) and access to the data as they go that can help with fundraising. Limited capacity of the maternity homes involved in the study keeps them from providing every mother in the region they serve with a placement into the maternity home and access to services. To allocate beds fairly, the LEO research team introduced a lottery for open beds. Researchers then compare those who do not receive a bed to those who do receive a bed and the home’s services over time. The outcomes that the research team is tracking include the mother’s custody of the new baby, mother’s well-being, housing stability, employment and education as well as well-being of the new baby, through a research approach that’s both rigorous and respectful of every person it involves.
Ideal candidates for this partnership are committed to implementing the already operating RCT at their site and must meet the following criteria:
Our research is free. You continue to offer services. We pay for research. It’s pretty brave to be willing to test what you do. We don’t want money to be a barrier to learning. You got into this work to make a difference. Impact starts with knowing. We want to support that vision you have for your life and your work. More evidence means more money. Philanthropists are asking more questions about organizational impact. Being able to answer these questions helps you raise money to support your mission. A partnership with LEO allows you to be a better equipped leader and make informed decisions about your program like where to grow or invest. LEO also provides weekly and direct support (virtual and on-site). LEO research is third-party validation of your work and carries the trust of the Notre Dame brand.
We have the honor of working with some amazing partner organizations within the pro-life movement. From advocacy to legal aid, to lobbying to research, all of them recognize the value of pregnancy help organizations and do their part in advancing the reach so that no woman ever feels so alone or helpless that she feels abortion is her only option.
Two organizations that have started initiatives to expand the reach of pregnancy help are Students for Life and SBA list. Through these new initiatives, each organization added a database of pregnancy help organizations in addition to state and local social services to supply women with a comprehensive list of resources when facing an unexpected pregnancy.
Stand With You helps women find the answers they need to become a successful parent. Women can connect with real people who understand what an unexpected pregnancy feels like, people who know first-hand that peer-to-peer support can be priceless, people who empower women to choose both their child and their dreams.
Her PLAN (Her Pregnancy and Life Assistance Network) facilitates collaboration between assistance providers and their communities to empower women and families through comprehensive medical, social, and material support. Her PLAN currently operates nationally and in four states: Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia and West Virginia.
In order to truly change the culture, we need a team of like-minded organizations to work together. We are blessed to work with all of you in this service side of the movement. We hope you appreciate these tools that our partner organizations are using in order to reach more women with the life-saving services you provide.
by Andrea Trudden, Senior Director of Communications & MarketingHeartbeat International
ThisIsChemicalAbortion.com is the site featuring a new docuseries that seeks to inform about the “dangerous new frontier for the abortion industry,” chemical abortion.
Produced by Charlotte Pence Bond, daughter of former Vice President Mike Pence, the This is Chemical Abortion project also has Heartbeat International and Students for Life of America (SFLA) as partners.
Through the docuseries and the website, we hope to educate and inform the general public as well as call individuals to action to stand against big abortion and the threat of chemical abortion.
Combining educational information with personal stories, the docuseries is designed to inform the general public of this popular new form of abortion. As use of the abortion pill has severely increased over the past three years – aggressively during the pandemic – it is more important than ever to ensure that our staff and supporters understand the dangers of such a drug.
Magazines and television shows increasingly promote “self-managed abortions at home” and even mail-order abortions. All the while, women are left alone throughout the entire abortion process. This is heartbreaking and we need to be equipped at our pregnancy help organizations to serve these women.
For the women who have taken the first abortion pill and immediately regret their abortion choice, we can point them to AbortionPillReversal.com. Here, they will be connected to a healthcare provider who can help them try and reverse the effects of the abortion pill, giving them a second chance to choose life.
For the women who completed their chemical abortions, we can provide healing and hope through abortion recovery services.
We know that the best alternative to abortion is a supportive person. While the methods of abortion may be changing to omit the human element altogether, our work remains. We are here to care for women and help them make positive choices for their lives.
If you have not yet done so, we encourage you and your staff to watch the docuseries. Share it with your supporters on your social media and via email. This is the world in which we live and we must be ready to combat these new weapons of the enemy to save these women from the pain of abortion.
The five short videos (about 10 minutes each) are housed on the ThisIsChemicalAbortion.com site and can also be accessed via Heartbeat’s website.
Thank you for your heart to serve! You were called into this movement for such a time as this.
by Matt Waters, CEO of F Street Partners
Voting is a national privilege, an opportunity to share in one of our most sacred rights. This November the entire U.S. House of Representatives (435 members) is up for re-election, as are 35 U.S. Senators, and 39 state or territory governors. Every state and local jurisdiction also have many more elections and ballot initiatives.
With that in mind, we would like to share five reasons why we should vote pro-life next month.
First, if you are a person of faith, you probably already know that God values life—and you can recall the words of Jesus who said, ‘Let the little children come unto me, do not forbid them,” or Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” These verses, and many more, highlight God’s view of human life.
Second, our Declaration of Independence, the words upon which our Country and Constitution were founded, exclaims, “All Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
In view of these two truths, the third thing your pro-life vote will do is make the case that funding abortion with taxpayer funds, or funding Planned Parenthood, is wrong, and we need to elect men and women who will oppose taxpayer funded abortions and funding Planned Parenthood.
Fourth, pro-lifers are building a culture of life. Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization was a great victory that overturned Roe v. Wade, but our fight to make abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations is far from over. Electing the right leaders will help provide for those who may believe abortion is their only choice. We need elected leaders who will support the pregnancy help movement rather than villify it.
Lastly, there are many politicians who come up with creative ways to end human life—on behalf of their pro-abortion campaign contributors. They use scenarios that bear no resemblance to reality, making claims like “abortion is health care” when science proves that abortion is never medically necessary to preserve the life of the mother, and stopping an active beating heart is the opposite of “health care.”
For more information on voting pro-life, please see ivoterguide.com for more information on those running for elective office.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
In journalism, reporters are taught, “Never bury the lede,” a reminder to focus first on the most important aspects of the story (defined as “the lede”) instead of spending several opening paragraphs on less vital details.
During this emergency, many pregnancy help organizations must close the doors of our offices. This is disappointing news, but this is not the “lede” to our story, for two reasons:
First, closing our offices is not news, because businesses everywhere are doing the same. Announcing to our supporters, “We’ve closed our offices for the foreseeable future” is, in journalistic terms, a “Dog Bites Man” story. There’s nothing “new” in our “news.”
This year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking Catholic churches in the US to intensify their focus on the needs of women facing pregnancies in challenging circumstances. All U.S. bishops are encouraged to invite their parishes to join the nationwide effort from March 25, 2020 to March 25, 2021 entitled “Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service.”
Individual parishes are asked to complete an inventory of the resources currently available in their local area, assess the results and identify gaps, and plan and implement a parish response based on their findings.
During the inventory process, (May-September of 2020) parishes are being encouraged develop relationships with their local pregnancy help center. With well over 17,000 Catholic parishes in the United States, and over 2,700 pregnancy help centers, there is great opportunity for collaboration. The intent of this effort is not to turn parishes into pregnancy centers, but to have parishes better connect women in need to the local resources, and to encourage parish support of local pregnancy help efforts.
Once a bishop invites his parishes to join the Year of Service, parish teams would begin to survey local resources, especially pregnancy help centers. Pregnancy help centers are welcome to proactively contact the Catholic parishes in their area to share the wonderful help they are already providing to mothers in need.
To find out more about Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service, visit www.walkingwithmoms.com. To connect with the local Respect Life contact for the diocese in your region, click here.
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat President
There’s an old adage, “May you live in interesting times.” Whether it’s a curse, a warning, or a call to adventure, depends on how you read it, receive it, or respond to it.
The brazen political ploy to secure abortion rights, even over other constitutional rights, that just happened in the New York state assembly, followed by several other states, points to the fact that these are, at the least, “interesting times.” The politics of Big Abortion haven’t been this overtly obvious to the nation than since the 1970s and early 80s as the wicked reality of the Roe v. Wade decision. Held at bay for years, the New York politicos beholding to Big Abortion for a big win last November wasted no time in legitimizing the very things that the lead to the conviction of the abortionist, Kermit Gosnell (Philadelphia, PA).
There are three things this tells us about pro-abortion forces.
They’re scared. The recent changes at the Supreme Court of the United States, namely new justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and decisions highlighting protections of liberties, suggest that Roe v. Wade is truly in danger of being reversed for the failed legal framework it is. This is the core reason advanced by Governor Cuomo in order to ensure abortion rights in New York state.
They’re serious. They wasted no time ramming this major constitutional change through. They seized upon the increasing polarization by implementing the far left reality of abortion on demand for any reason, at any age. This is a stark reality that Roe currently protects. And even a simple reversal of Roe, will likely not provide the legal footing to address the egregious moves by the Big Abortion allies in New York and other blue states.
They’re stealing. In elevating abortion so radically they are actually stealing rights not just from the unborn who are obviously “viable” (have the ability to survive outside the womb), but also from women by gutting protections for women from domestic violence. They are stealing the protections provided by previous, and some long-standing, laws that carried these protections.
There is much to be disappointed about. But that misses the larger story in our nation.
When politics, and politicians, fail us (as they inevitably seem to do), the practical remains our primary impact area. The practical manifests in the faithful actions of the pregnancy help movement. From pregnancy centers to maternity homes, from pregnancy tests to parenting classes, we have many practical methods to reach at-risk women and men. New York politicians didn’t inspire the mission field created by abortion—but they did expand it.
In the wake of New York, what do we do?
Get busy. Or more precisely, busier. We need to examine our own service capacity to ensure that we’re optimizing our ministry outreach and impact. Do we have unfilled counseling rooms during current business hours? Do we have under-utilized ultrasound services? Quick gains can be made by getting busy filling unused capacity with more life-saving impact. That likely means looking more closely at our marketing effectiveness in reaching those at-risk for abortions in our community.
Get better. Just like the call to grow in Christ, the call to be better is one of intentional examination and evaluation. We need to be better in reaching those at-risk, stronger in serving those we can, and deepening our commitment to intervention impact. We won’t achieve new results by only doing what we’ve always done. Remember, the manual typewriter and the buggy whip were, at one time, deemed “best practices.” Actively re-think processes and programs for greater effectiveness.
Get bolder. Despite the false accusations that we “only care about the unborn baby,” the pregnancy help movement is positively impacting millions of people each year. We need to be bold about engaging the “mushy middle” that has been reminded that Roe’s full effect is not something to be “moderate” about. Every Christ-follower should be involved in overcoming Roe. Whether directly ministering to clients in the “valley of decision,” supporting those who do, or voting our values, there is something every believer can do. And let’s be bold to invite greater involvement for current supporters. We can, and must, do more. Let’s boldly proclaim the great work of pregnancy help!
In all of this we should not let our “hearts be troubled.” But, instead, we should take heart that where sin does abound, grace that much more abounds. It is that abundant grace that this ministry is built upon, and will thrive upon.
by Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., Heartbeat International Chairman of the Board
We can all take heart from the findings of the latest report on the amazing work of pregnancy help centers, clinics, and maternity homes across the USA, A Half Century of Hope, A Legacy of Life & Love: Pregnancy Center Service Report, Third Edition, which notes that pregnancy help centers trace their beginnings to 1968, 50 years ago.
Having discovered our local Birthright in 1973 and Heartbeat International in 1978, I have been an eyewitness to the growth of this movement for 45 years. What a privilege to experience what God is doing through ordinary people who can accomplish the extraordinary when He is calling and equipping.
I want to reflect briefly on three things this report highlights.
First of all, the heroism of the mothers who are choosing life over abortion, despite the incessant marketing and promotion of abortion in American culture and organized attempts to stifle the voices for life, especially in pregnancy help centers.
We do not save babies – mothers do, once they have the love, support, care, knowledge, and new vision they need to overcome the pressures leading them toward abortion. We are woman-centered, and women are choosing life over abortion at higher rates than ever since 1973.
As the pregnancy center report shows, the abortion rate in this country in 2014 (the latest year for which numbers are available) has gone down to 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women from a high of 29.3 eight years after the Roe v. Wade decision (according to Guttmacher Institute).
Additional research underway now is looking at the hypothesis that even more than state laws, clinic closures, or political changes the major factor in this decline in the abortion ratio could well be the work of pregnancy help organizations! We will not rest from our labors until every woman who needs help can find it at her local life-affirming pregnancy help organization.
Just one more reason our Life Launch Grant to help start pregnancy centers in areas primed for more life-saving outreach is such an important recent initiative.
Second, the Footsoldiers Armed with LOVE – those working in pregnancy help organizations, and their supporters, throughout the USA (and the world) who provide the love, support, and help so women can choose life for their babies.
From the handful of volunteers that started, supported, and worked in each of the original pregnancy help centers (there were about 100 locations in 1971 when Heartbeat published our first Worldwide Directory), God has raised a mighty army!
In 2017, in 2,600 pregnancy help locations, there were 67,400 volunteers, along with a much smaller number of dedicated staff members, who served 2 Million people!
The tools available for this army have multiplied in the last 50 years, as the pregnancy center report illustrates. Centers are utilizing valuable tools that are becoming more and more available and prevalent. Just look at how many centers are expanding their services: 70% offer ultrasounds, 41% provide sexual integrity and sexual risk avoidance education with evidence-based curricula and materials, 97% offer material aid, 87% provide prenatal and parenting support and education, and 75% host after abortion support and healing programs.
Life affirming crisis intervention, prevention services (sexual integrity), support, and after abortion healing ALL save lives. Each provides, at some point in a woman’s life, a life-affirming vision, a hope, and perhaps some practical help, so some women will never be faced with a difficult pregnancy, and those who are know that abortion is NOT their only alternative.
To me, this continues to prove that the best alternative to abortion is another person – armed with the love of Christ, offering women a new vision of hope and life.
My third thought – my passion for the vision and mission of Heartbeat – the network of centers, clinics, and housing ministries that make up Heartbeat International, plus the programs and services of “Heartbeat Central” (our headquarters).
Heartbeat International was founded in 1971 by a diverse group of the original pregnancy help organizations (from California, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and other states). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, these centers were starting up all over the USA because of the push to de-criminalize abortion state by state. The founders knew that, once abortion became legal, women would need help and support to withstand the pressure for abortion.
These centers were diverse, influenced by local needs and the vision of their founders – entrepreneurial and creative. And they still are!
There never was one Heartbeat model – there were MANY models. And there still are, as the pregnancy center services report makes clear! It highlights the continuing diversity and creativity, the local, personal, and God-led nature of pregnancy help, while it is, at the same time, professional and sophisticated in the most positive senses of those words.
Heartbeat Central – your team at the Heartbeat headquarters – also remains entrepreneurial and creative plus professional and sophisticated as we lead and equip this dynamic movement. Starting like most pregnancy centers do, as “all volunteer” in 1971, we now have over 50 dedicated staff members with diverse expertise.
Let me highlight just 3 areas, mentioned in the pregnancy center services report, where Heartbeat International is advancing the pregnancy help movement, areas that I am personally passionate about.
Reaching women, particularly minorities who are targets of abortionists. Heartbeat’s original 1971 vision for a toll free number (called a Watts Line in ancient times!) is now our Option Line, answering more than 1,000 calls for help EVERY DAY and sending these people to the amazing network of local pregnancy help.
We know that women search for help primarily online, and Option Line is the only web-based helpline – “answering the call” via text, email, live chat, and phones. As the pregnancy center services report notes, Planned Parenthood and other abortionists target minority and immigrant women for abortions. Option Line is staffed by loving and caring bilingual consultants, fluent in English and Spanish, 24/7, 365 days per year.
In the not too distant future, the number of calls for help answered by Option Line yearly in the USA will surpass the number of abortions!
Rescuing women and their children from the Abortion Pill. With perhaps 1/3 of abortions now done by the “abortion pill,” according to the pregnancy center services report, Heartbeat is countering with our APR network – Abortion Pill Rescue. Option Line is answering calls from women who change their minds after taking the first pill of the two-pill chemical abortion process.
These women are desperately seeking help. Heartbeat is growing the present network of over 450 physicians who use the APR protocol to save babies (over 500 born so far!) and the centers that refer to this network in an effort to help even more women save their babies and themselves from the effects of abortion.
Renewing training and service efforts with the latest technology. From a handful of training pamphlets that we could provide by snail mail in the 70’s – the first and only training materials available to all centers – Heartbeat International now uses the latest distance-learning technology in our online Academy to provide APR training as well as over 200 different courses and webinars, any place and any time to more than 4,300 registered students in the pregnancy help movement.
To advance the medical emphasis in pregnancy centers, as noted in the pregnancy center services report, our Academy provides CEU’s for nurses and even a full ultrasound training course online. For staff and for volunteers, still the heart of the movement, we also provide a Life-Affirming Specialist (LAS) certification to help keep up crucial skills and learn best practices. LAS continuing education credits can be earned online through our advanced online class ConCERT, online webinars, or in-person training opportunities such as the Heartbeat International Annual Conference.
In fact, almost the only technology employed by Heartbeat’s first pregnancy help affiliates in the 70’s – and by Heartbeat International too – was the telephone (even pregnancy tests had to be done by cooperating doctor’s offices)! Now, Heartbeat leads with a variety of technology training and solutions for centers – from Option Line (to schedule appointments within cooperating centers), to website design and local search marketing from Extend Web Services, to a complete center management system, Next Level.
All of this, Heartbeat makes available to serve the broader pregnancy help movement, not just to our affiliated network.
We see Lord’s hand here – in the way He has provided the vision and resources for us at Heartbeat to serve the pregnancy help movement over these many decades – and in the amazing success story of pregnancy help in the USA, so well documented in A Half Century of Hope, A Legacy of Life & Love: Pregnancy Center Service Report, Third Edition.
THANK YOU – to all of YOU whom God has called to be part of this story, and Praise be to God – from whom all these blessings flow! Let us all Take Heart.
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