by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International President
God pulled off some pretty cool judo. Did you catch it?
Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS for short, handed down a 5-4 victory in the NIFLA v. Becerra case. If you’re not familiar, the case was a challenge to the government over-reach of a California State Assembly law (AB775) in favor of free speech by local, non-profit, pregnancy help centers. The law had a carefully twisted criteria that singled out these pro-lifers to compel them, among other things, to advocate abortion access provided by the State of California.
The decision itself was an answer to prayer – and there had been lots of prayer about the law and in particular as it was being heard and decided at the Supreme Court. Certainly God was in that, as it affirmed His value for championing His Gift of Life. The judo comes in when we step back and look at the whole story from the beginning of the journey to the victorious ruling at the highest court in our land (SCOTUS).
The original draft of the bill, AB 775, that would become the law that would be challenged, did not arise just from a concerned California elected official. The original draft came from none other than Big Abortion itself. NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and their ilk leveraged their political muscle by planting the framework for this bill with one of their elected lackeys. The party of abortion that dominates the California political landscape voted favorably with their Governor Brown making it official. Finally, in their minds, the pregnancy help centers would have to fall in line with their abortion agenda through the might of their government power.
Fortunately, the California pregnancy centers didn’t buckle to this raw abuse of government power. The majority refused to comply pending the outcome of the NIFLA lawsuit. A few were bullied into compliance by the zealous Los Angeles County attorney who, seemingly, has little better to do than threaten pro-lifers trying to help women make the healthiest choice for their baby.
A fundamental principle of judo is to defend against attacks by using the strength and momentum of the attacker. The insistence of Big Abortion to use government to do its bidding was the very strength and momentum that God used to defeat them. Instead of codifying their allegations against pregnancy centers and compelling each to convey their pro-abortion message, the result of their efforts is to have the free speech and right of conscience confirmed by the highest court in the land! Other states (Hawaii, Connecticut, and Illinois, for example) that folowed California's lead can expect to watch similar laws fall like dominoes after the decision this week. In fact, we've already seen progress in the City of Hartford, Connecticut where Hartford Women's Center is breathing a sigh of relief.
This echoes from what Joseph understood (Genesis 50:20), “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” There’s the judo! God turned the narrow (California) legislative attack to a national (all of the U.S.A.) affirmation of pregnancy help centers.
But that’s not all. Through NIFLA v. Becerra, more and more people are hearing about the good work of pregnancy help centers. Lawyers will cite this case for their own free speech battles. Young attorneys-in-training will learn about this case in law school. Multiple media outlets – secular and religious – have been highlighting the conflict between free speech and conscience and the State of California’s overreach. In the process, they’ve conveyed the life-affirming work of PHCs to hundreds of thousands, maybe over time millions, who would never have heard otherwise.
Thank you, God, for the masterful judo lesson. (Understanding that judo was only invented in the 1800s and you’ve exercised the principle philosophy for a lot longer than that.)
by Susan Dammann, RN, LAS, Medical Specialist
As we examine the symptoms exposed in the recent report unveiling the state chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice America colluding with Maryland government officials, a diagnosis becomes quite clear. This legal effort to shut down a local pro-life pregnancy care center, along with a seven-part plan developed by NARAL to shut down pregnancy help organizations across the country, reveal an infection with the intention to spread.
Miriam Webster defines diagnosis as"the act of identifying a disease, illness, or problem by examining someone or something."
First, there is definitely a primary source of infection, still seemingly localized, and the infection's focal point is limited to a small segment of the population. In 2010 when "Montgomery County passed an ordinance requiring Centro Tepeyac Silver Spring Women's Center and other pro-life pregnancy care clinics to post signs stating that they did not have doctors on staff," the outbreak was cured by three court decisions against the ordinance.
"Judge Deborah Chasanow, a Clinton appointee, noted that the people who accused the centers of spreading 'misinformation' were 'universally volunteers from a pro-choice organization sent to investigate practices' at the centers."
[Read Heartbeat President Peggy Hartshorn’s Op-Ed at LifeSiteNews.com here.]
When we learn of such outbreaks it is common to wonder if this will erupt into an epidemic or pandemic. Then we wonder how we can immunize ourselves from being attacked by the same germs.
The very best way to inoculate ourselves is to do just as they have already given us credit for doing!
The County responded to NARAL with the following statement: "I doubt my colleagues or the County Attorney will be interested in pursuing a truth-in-advertising statute...[these centers] are clearly very artful at devising strategies to avoid violating the law." Strategies to avoid violating the law simply put, means we obey the law and they recognize it. Your best immunization plan is to keep up your mission and the excellence with which you always work. You can always take your organization's vital signs by checking up on our Commitment of Care and Competence.
It would be a misdiagnosis if we thought we could treat these germs by pregnancy help organizations hiring doctors and nurses, putting in state of the art equipment and following all the best practices so that they will approve of us and stop the attacks. We have done just that and they are still manipulating women with lies and misleading information.
True choice and excellent healthcare for women are not their goal. The accurate diagnosis is that the abortion industry has a goal of permanently eliminating pregnancy centers because we are undermining their bottom line of profit.
Keep in mind that we do not live in a sterile environment and that germs abound. We can expect that by making inroads to bring health and wholeness into our world, there may be attacks. This is to be expected, but not feared. God even tells us in His Word that we may suffer for the sake of righteousness, but we are blessed.
"But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled." 1 Peter 3:14 NASB
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President
You are hated. Get used to it. Jesus knew it would be so when He said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." John 15:18 (NIV)
What NARAL really thinks about you – okay, well maybe not you, individually, but what you do and what you are about, confirms something we've long suspected. They are hell-bent to do whatever they can to diminish your effectiveness, even when you're operating under "best practices."
In the words of the NARAL attorney "...It does not matter if [crisis pregnancy centers] hire doctors or house state-of-the-art equipment: they are still manipulating women with lies and misleading information." This supports our long held understanding that no amount of "medicalization" will steer them from their attack. NARAL defiantly admit that medical services "conveys a seal of approval that we never want to be complicit in allowing [crisis pregnancy centers] to claim." (Emphasis added.)
So, in effect, they will never admit that the good medical practices you deploy will be enough. Ever. At all. Because they simply can't allow that kind of "seal of approval" for what you do.
After a focused effort utilizing taxpayer funds, even the County (meaning the government guy) divulges , "I doubt my colleagues or the County Attorney will be interested in pursuing a truth-in-advertising statute...[these centers] are clearly very artful at devising strategies to avoid violating the law."
What was that? Oh, that's political speak for "they are following the law."
But wait there's more. Don't miss it.
NARAL goes on to encourage the County to drop their current legal attack in favor of a list of other ways they intend to attack PHOs.
[Read about NARAL and Montgomery County's planned attack on pregnancy help organizations here.]
Let's be clear. While in the midst of an orchestrated attack that is failing, they point to other attacks that they feel might work.
Tweet this! We need to understand that NARAL's new attack list is not fool-proof.
We need to understand that NARAL's new attack list is not fool-proof. The NARAL-inspired local ordinance attack waged on several fronts - Montgomery County, City of Baltimore, State of Maryland, NYC, Austin, etc. - have not survived legal scrutiny.
Certainly, NARAL's attack strategies reminds us to sharpen our policy and procedure, retrain on key practices and remain vigilant about upholding our Commitment of Care and Competence. But let us be careful not to over-react to them or over-state the threat to PHOs. Just like Jesus forging ahead in His mission despite the world hating him, we need to have confidence in our mission and our Master.
In addition, this whole episode reminds us not to be afraid of lawsuits. As is often the case in God's economy, He turned the attack against the attacker of God's people. Their own lawsuit to denigrate the work of PHOs resulted in revealing the failing of their strategy and the wonderful news that we know how "to avoid violating the law" (meaning we are doing things lawfully).
For more about why NARAL hates PHOs, read Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn's article on LifeSiteNews.com.
by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
The recent news out of Maryland—and the Centro Tepeyac Silver Spring Women's Center—sends us a strong message: Pregnancy Help Organizations are becoming much more effective, and those who wish to protect abortion-on-demand at all costs are getting frantic.
LifeSite News covered the story. In short, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland worked with the Montgomery County Council to create a 2010 law forcing Centro Tepeyac to post signs declaring when medical personnel were not on site. The law of course, was designed to slow down; even stop, Centro Tepeyac from reaching out to women.
The good news? After four years of fighting, Centro Tepeyac won. Big.
At different stages, three judges struck down the law, with the final ruling coming from a Bill Clinton-appointed judge who fined Montgomery County $375,000 for violating the rights of Centro Tepeyac.
NARAL's president in Maryland didn't give up however, and private emails show both she and the president of the Montgomery County council attempting to collude on other ways to shut down Centro Tepeyac.
What does this tell us? The abortion lobby and its clinics are afraid. They are losing business while pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics are gaining ground. (Check out Peggy Hartshorn's argument to that effect here.)
In essence, just like Nehemiah built a wall of hope for the people of Israel in the Old Testament, we are building a pro-life Wall of Hope today, and just like Nehemiah, opposition is everywhere, trying every tactic imaginable.
Our modern day Wall of Hope is composed of thousands of pregnancy help organizations and ministries, places where moms, dads and children can come for safety, away from the deception of the abortion industry.
Tweet this: The Maryland case leaves no doubt – our Wall is rising.
Nehemiah faced incredible opposition, just as we do. Men like Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem were constant thorns of criticism, mocking, and scorn. They tried every avenue to shut down the work on a wall that would protect the Jewish people.
Nehemiah would have none of it. At one point Nehemiah was asked to come down off of the wall for a "meeting" with his enemies. Nehemiah knew the meeting was nothing but a plot to kill him, so he gave his detractors a terse response: "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?" (Neh 6:3)
We—all of us in the pregnancy help community—are involved in a great work. The detractors will continue with their lobbying, their public relations campaigns against us, and their collusion with politicians to enact laws to stop us.
But friends, we are building a Wall of Hope. We will not come down off of our wall until we are finished.
And if the news out of Maryland is any indication, we may be closer to completing our Wall of Hope than we can imagine.
Get Kirk's new book, The Wall at amazon.com today!
At a time when our social and political structure is aligned against the most innocent among us, The Wall brings tremendous hope and vision. Though we’ve experienced a generation of tragedy following the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, The Wall reminds us that it is often when hope seems lost that God orchestrates extraordinary victory through ordinary people. In addition, The Wall shows that surprisingly, today is the perfect time for creating a new culture of life in America. Get ready to be inspired; and be prepared to take your place building The Wall.
By Jeanneane Maxon, Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Counsel, Americans United for Life
Attacks against pregnancy centers across the country have been widespread, and many of you have personally experienced them. In recent years, over a dozen states and localities have considered legislation promoted by NARAL designed to drive clients away from pregnancy centers and the life-saving help you provide.
Such bills typically include ridiculous requirements, such as disclaimers like, "This center is not required to provide you factually accurate information." In many instances, centers would be required to include such inaccurate and burdensome disclaimers in all client advertising, sometimes in 24 point font, and in Washington State, in five languages including Laotian.
If this sounds absurd to you, you are not alone. Every court that has had to consider such legislation has found it to be not only absurd, but unconstitutional. In fact, just this year, a court found an anti-pregnancy center ordinance imposed by Montgomery County, Maryland to be so inappropriate that it ordered the county to pay $375,000 in attorney's fees, costs, and nominal damages to the plaintiff pregnancy center.
Although they have been successful, efforts to defend pregnancy centers have cost time, energy and critical focus away from the women you serve. As Christian ministries, pregnancy centers should be strategic and prepared to defend themselves in the most efficient ways possible. We are called to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16. Proactive efforts, therefore, should be bathed in prayer and approached with strategic steps to make victory come easier.
As one strategy to shield these attacks, Americans United for Life (AUL) drafted a Joint Resolution Honoring the Work of Pregnancy Resource Centers which provides state legislators, as well as county and city officials, an opportunity to praise pregnancy centers. In 2010, following the launch of state-based attacks in Oregon, AUL published this resolution and began working for its passage.
To date, 23 Pregnancy Center Resolutions have been passed in 17 states (some states passed the resolution in multiple years) including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska (by way of a "proclamation"), New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Currently a resolution is also under consideration in Ohio.
As a first benefit, the resolution gives PRCs the ability to publicly highlight the work they do for their community. When a resolution passes, pregnancy center directors and volunteers are often invited to the statehouse and photographed with the Governor and/or significant government leaders. Additionally, many states also provide copies of the resolution for the center suitable for framing and display. Such an endorsement adds credibility in the minds of donors, clients and other influencers.
Additionally, when pregnancy centers are praised by a state or representative body of the people, the attacks on pregnancy centers lose credibility. For example, in 2010, Virginia legislators were so appalled by harassment NARAL inflicted on pregnancy centers through hostile legislation attempts, that they not only refused to enact NARAL's legislation, but turned around and passed the resolution praising the centers two weeks later.
Likewise, West Virginia has been on the forefront supporting the work of their pregnancy centers by way of a resolution. This state has consistently honored pregnancy centers every year since 2011. In 2012, the resolution became particularly meaningful when a hostile state legislator inappropriately wrote a letter to all the pregnancy centers demanding they supply him with confidential center files for a make-shift unofficial "investigation."
The pregnancy centers were able to respond simply by reminding this official that both the West Virginia House of Representatives and Senate had passed the resolution praising pregnancy centers for their outstanding service to the State and their communities. Presumably in embarrassment, the legislator stopped his harassment campaign and nothing more has been heard from him.
The impact of these resolutions is so profound that Heartbeat International and AUL believe that every pregnancy center should have a resolution passed in their state.
We can assist pregnancy centers in doing so. Pregnancy Center Action kits (with tools and instruction on passing the resolution) will be available to pregnancy centers in February, and the resolution and its corresponding policy guide is currently available at http://www.aul.org/legislative-resources/order-model-legislation/ (select Joint Resolution Honoring Pregnancy Resource Centers), or by contacting AUL at 202-741-4901.
We are privileged to stand by pregnancy centers that are doing the frontline work of helping women choose Life for themselves and their unborn children. We pray that this work carries on, uninhibited, until all are welcomed in life and protected in law.
by Ellen Foell, Heartbeat International Legal Counsel
If the purpose of Pulse is to help life-affirming people keep their fingers on the pulse of America’s pregnancy help movement, then here are two very interesting and highly contentious battles which mandate a closer look. On opposite ends of the country, California and New York, local governments have pitted themselves against pregnancy help centers (PHCs), in both the legislative and judicial forums.
In New York, Mayor Bloomberg and the city council’s efforts to unfairly regulate the work of PHCs through superfluous fraud, deception, and consumer protection laws, came to a grinding halt as a federal district court judge ruled that the Council’s law was unconstitutional. Indeed, the court found that the speech (essentially advertising and information on services provided) of PHCs was not commercial speech, that the speech of centers was particularly prone to biased regulation because of its controversial nature and that New York City council’s attempt to regulate the speech was offensive and unconstitutional. The court imposed a preliminary injunction on the application of the law pending a trial on the merits.
On the other side of the country, San Francisco - presumably unaware of the rulings in Baltimore, Montgomery County, and New York - proceeded full-speed ahead. They threatened two San Francisco PHCs, First Resort and Alpha Pregnancy Center, with a two pronged legal action. One prong is the now typical, albeit unsuccessful, proposed law which seeks to regulate the speech of PHCs.
The other prong is the threat by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera that he intends to pursue legal action against the two pregnancy centers whose business names pop up first in a Google search when someone uses San Francisco and abortion as keywords. According to Herrera, that first-in-line pop up constitutes false advertising and violates reproductive rights of women. This attack is so bizarre that even those who are not pro-life see that Mr. Herrera is on a hunt to harass PHCs and they easily recognize the ridiculous nature of the threat.
Zombie, a contributing blogger to PajamasMedia.com, an online blogging portal, wrote: “even from my pro-choice perspective, the city’s attempt to essentially banish any counseling center which doesn’t encourage or perform abortions is simply beyond belief.” This blogger continues, “And in the press conference proudly announcing this, the City Attorney openly admits that it’s politically motivated, that he’s going after the centers because he defines them as ‘right-wing.’ But seriously, have you ever looked at the ads for the other kinds of pregnancy counseling centers, the kinds of places where if you walk in, the only advice they ever give you is abort abort abort?
“Never do they put up big neon signs saying ‘Fetuses aborted here.’ Instead, they have innocuous (some would say ‘deceptive’) names like ‘community health center’ or ‘reproductive services clinic’ and so on.” Zombie concludes, “In fact, if you flip the narrative, and do a Google search for ‘pregnant’ and ‘San Francisco,’ the top result is a hospital that does provide abortions.”
In a comment posted on Zombie’s PajamasMedia.com blog "chambers," a reader, responded to the article with this observation, "The psychology of the legislators driving this effort is skin-crawlingly creepy … How can so much passion, indeed fury, be worked up for ending the life of a fetus in the womb?"
Indeed, skin crawlingly creepy. If this doesn’t make our pulse rate rise, what will?
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” -1 Peter 4:12-13
The Apostle Peter, whose lack of preparation for a fiery trial was once exposed the moment the rooster crowed, warns his beloved brothers and sisters against making the same mistake all throughout his two short letters.
There is much for us to learn as we engage in the type of day-in-day-out spiritual struggle involved in every Christian’s life and ministry.
In the course of just two verses—1 Peter 4:12-13—the Apostle corrects our initial, earth-bound reaction to suffering and attacks, while pointing us to a truly Christ-glorifying, gospel-informed vision for responding to “fiery trials” of any kind.
Remember, says Peter, we’re engaged in a spiritual struggle. That suffering and attack should come our way ought to be about as shocking to us as enemy fire is to a soldier in a dug-out trench.
“This is strange,” says the soldier in the thick of battle. “Who on earth is firing on us? What are they so mad at us for?”
No, says the Apostle, “do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you… as though something strange were happening to you.”
As those called to rescue those who are perishing, we ought never to forget Whose side we’re on.
This is the God who “works all things together for the good of those who love” him. He doesn’t needlessly bring opposition and suffering our way, and no attack from the Enemy ever reaches us on accident or without our Father’s express permission (see Job 1).
God always has a purpose, and part of His purpose for “fiery trials” is testing—refining, purifying, sanctifying—His people.
But that’s not all this text has to teach us. Preparation and awareness of our surroundings, important though they may be, don’t tell the whole story of a gospel-informed vision for responding to attacks. The key is found in verse 13—don’t be surprised, but rather, rejoice!
Remember when the Apostles—including Peter—were beaten up and sent away by the synagogue leaders in Acts 5? Luke, the writer of Acts, tells us, “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”
We share in that tradition when others attack us for holding fast to the gospel of life. What an honor! What a cause for rejoicing in the God who, for the sake of His Son, calls us beloved and adopts us into His family forever through our faith in Christ.
We rejoice because our present suffering points us to that Day when the glory of the risen Christ will be revealed. He suffered once for our sin and salvation, and each time we face a “fiery trial,” we share in that suffering with Him, as we’re beckoned to rejoice and be glad that One Day we’ll see Him as He is.
How do you respond when you’re attacked?
by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant
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