by Gayle Irwin, Guest Writer
The Caribbean island of Saint Lucia welcomed its first pregnancy center a few months ago, and with help from Heartbeat International, staff members are fulfilling an unmet need for the nation’s pregnant women.
“Women who have unplanned pregnancies in Saint Lucia live in extreme poverty,” said Cindi Boston, vice president of mission advancement for Heartbeat International. “There is a massive need. When you have a new start-up and have fewer resources, it takes time. But, they are doing very well.”
Boston took a team to the country a few years ago to work with the staff and supporters. Training included how to interact with clients, how to establish and manage a board of directors, and specific teaching to nurses and doctors on ultrasound techniques, which was taught by a Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS). Just a few months ago, the Family Centre officially opened as part of the Caribbean Centre for Family and Human Rights (CARIFAM).
Tammy Stearns, RDMS, Sarah and Heartbeat Vice President Cindi Boston
Nadine, a doctor in training, Tammy Stearns, Cindi Boston, Dr. Ginny, and Shawna Charles
This organization was started in 2012 by Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, a strong pro-life advocate who was a member of the nation’s Parliament. She saw the increasing pressure upon the country to embrace abortion and decided to create a pro-life, pro-family organization to help solve the country’s social and economic problems as well as in response to attacks on fundamental human rights and the family.
Located in the West Indies, Saint Lucia is part of the Lesser Antilles. With an international outreach, Heartbeat has conducted summits and other trainings in the Caribbean, said Ellen Foell, the international program specialist at Heartbeat.
“Trying to advance the pro-life movement on an island can be isolating,” she said. “Heartbeat recognizes this and seeks to come alongside these organizations and centers.”
Nearly all pregnancy centers in the Caribbean are less than five years old, she added.
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The Family Centre is managed by a three-person volunteer team: Nadine Khodra-Jn Baptiste and her husband Mitchell Jn Baptiste and Shauna Charles.
“We share the responsibility for oversight and working within the centre on a weekly basis,” Nadine said. “The Family Centre has been operating virtually for over a year. We opened the physical doors in May 2019.”
The community has been supportive, and many attended a blessing ceremony, she added.
However, opposing groups didn’t take long to implement advertisements luring women toward abortion, Boston said.
“After the website went up, there was a quick response from the pro-choice side,” she said.
The Family Centre meets needs not addressed by abortion organizations, with services and programs to help women find courage and hope to continue their pregnancies. The center offers pregnancy testing, ultrasound, options counseling, educational classes, material needs such as supplies for the baby, and post-abortion counseling.
Tweet This: The Family Centre meets needs not addressed by abortion organizations; they help women find courage and hope to continue their pregnancies.
“In addition to lack of resources, family tensions run high when an unexpected pregnancy occurs,” Nadine said. “The mother-to-be becomes even more confused because of all the contributing factors. Hence the need! If we can support in a loving environment, provide guidance and clarity, make family interventions, et cetera. Essentially, we can greatly lessen the likelihood of an abortion.”
That took place for “Janine” in an extremely unique situation. She was referred to the Saint Lucia center from Germany, Nadine said.
“She was a St. Lucian who went to Germany to get married to a man with which she had had a long-distance relationship. The relationship became an abusive one very soon after she moved in with him,” Nadine said.
Within a few months, Janine decided she couldn’t stay in that relationship and sought to return to Saint Lucia. However, she also realized she was pregnant and reached out to an organization in Germany. That group contacted The Family Centre in Saint Lucia, seeking help for Janine.
“I met with her soon after she arrived and realized that there were other medical complications that would make it extremely difficult for her to carry the baby to term, despite the fact that she wanted to have her baby,” Nadine said. “In addition to counseling and emotional support, we were able to help her get funding to assist with her treatment and advanced monitoring of her pregnancy. Her healthy baby was born later that year.”
A situation such as Janine’s prompts The Family Centre staff to look toward the future. As they continue to meet the needs of the island’s pregnant women, they envision being of greater help.
“We’d like to expand our reach and range of services to a fully-fledged state-of-the-art pregnancy and birthing centre which specializes in at-risk pregnancies,” Nadine said.
Heartbeat will continue to be guiding force for St. Lucia and other pro-life pregnancy centers around the world.
“We invest a lot [into international training],” Boston said. “We raise a lot of funds so that our international friends can come over [to a conference] every year. In fact, each year we have 30 to 45 internationals coming.”
Nadine and the rest of The Family Centre staff recognize the vital assistance given to them and other centers across the world.
“We are especially thankful to Heartbeat International for the training and support that they have provided us with over the past few years. Their contribution is a key component to the success of our organization,” she said.
This story is reprinted from the August 5, 2019 article at Pregnancy Help News.
Ellen Foell, J.D., Esq., who previously served as Legal Counsel to Heartbeat International, has recently rejoined the Heartbeat Ministry Services team as International Program Specialist. Ellen’s introduction to pro-life work came as part of a team that defended peaceful, pro-life protesters. Ellen worked as a trial lawyer for many years after graduating from Case Western Reserve University. As legal counsel for Heartbeat, she was instrumental in laying the groundwork for several international initiatives, including our Europe Pregnancy Help Leaders Summit.
Ellen’s heart for the international program at Heartbeat is fueled by her family connections to Asia and Europe, and she is familiar with several languages. We’re thrilled to have Ellen working with the Heartbeat team again, so we decided to do a quick interview to share our excitement!
My last “gig” with Heartbeat was as Legal Counsel, a position now well-filled by Danielle White, Esq. I was in the position just under 5 years, and it was a wonderful experience. I had the chance to meet with lots of affiliates, do lots of legal reviews, do some teaching, and basically do all things legal for Heartbeat.
I always loved the mission and vision of Heartbeat, so when I had the chance to come back in a role with even more contact with affiliates, I was really excited. I see the pregnancy help movement across the globe is growing more and more. Look at what just happened in Ireland, a country where we never thought legalized abortion would come, and it did. Heartbeat is in a position to come alongside the pregnancy help centers where the political climate is changing. We have a lot to offer, and a lot to learn from these new organizations starting out, trying new things in new places.
I finished writing a book and started getting it ready for publication. I have been doing some work representing ministries and nonprofit organizations. I’ve also been doing some court-appointed work.
I did court-appointed work because I have such a long history of desire to help children. When you do this here, you often get appointed to represent either parents, children, or the best interests of children in abuse, neglect, and dependency cases. I really like it because you get to look at all the facts, and help the court find out what’s in the best interest of these children.
At the same time, it’s like putting band-aids on this incredible cultural systemic problem. It’s frustrating because you can put the band-aid on, but you’re not dealing with the foundational piece, which is life is sacred. God sees the life of this child as sacred, and God sees the lives of these parents, regardless of what they’re doing, as sacred.
One of the reasons I really wanted to take this position is that Heartbeat really deals with the foundational issue – that life is sacred. You can apply a billion band-aids, but if you have not addressed the foundation piece, if you’re not trying to help create and transform the pro-life gospel in a culture, you’re gonna be applying band-aids for the rest of your life. People need to do that anyway until Jesus returns, but I really want to make the years I have left count, and I think this is the way to do that.
I love being a part of a team. It’s encouraging to be with like-minded people again. It’s encouraging to be with people who have a vision to see a world in which abortion is unthinkable.
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:
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.
Tweet This: "@PHC_News is an excellent bridge where we can point and say, 'This is what we do. This is our world.'"
COLUMBUS, OHIO – Seeking to unite a worldwide community made up of staff, leaders, volunteers, board members and community supporters in over 6,000 locations, Heartbeat International, the world's largest and most expansive network of life-affirming pregnancy help organizations has launched a new website, www.PregnancyHelpNews.com.
The site, which went live Jan. 19, is updated each business day with news, commentary and features, all of which affect and surround the realm of pregnancy help centers, medical clinics (with ultrasound and STI testing), maternity homes and non-profit adoption agencies.
"In our Worldwide Directory of Pregnancy Help, we list over 6,000 pregnancy help organizations," Heartbeat International Vice President Jor-El Godsey said. "Our goal with PregnancyHelpNews.com is to create a specific source of information and sort of first-stop homepage to connect these life-affirming friends around the day's news that specifically impacts the courageous work in which they are involved every day."
While promotion of the site has been largely confined to the nearly 2,000 organizations affiliated with Heartbeat International, PregnancyHelpNews.com garnered over 1,000 unique page views Monday, Feb. 2.
The top-read news story on the site is of a mother whose baby was saved through the collaboration of Abortion Pill Reversal and a Southern California pregnancy center after the mother had taken the first round of the abortion pill, RU-486. Readers are also invited to register and interact on a free conversation forum.
"One element we are especially excited to bring to the table with this site is its focus on pregnancy centers and the work they do," said Editor-in-Chief Jay Hobbs, who is joined in leadership by Senior Writer Kirk Walden, long-time publisher of Advancement Trends in the Life Community.
"We see PregnancyHelpNews.com as an excellent bridge, where anyone involved in the pregnancy help community can point friends and potential supporters and say, 'This is what we do. This is our world.'"
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.
“Because Defendants have failed to demonstrate an actual problem in need of solving, it is unnecessary to reach the narrow tailoring prong of the strict scrutiny test.”1
Those are the words footnoted on the last page of last Friday’s opinion by Judge Deborah Chasanow in the case Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County, et al., Case 8:10-cv-01259 (D. Maryland 3/7/2014).
Imagine that… Montgomery County was unable to demonstrate to the Court that pregnancy help centers pose a problem in need of solving. What’s just as telling is what the Court also stated in the body of the opinion:
Quite simply, the County has put no evidence into the record to demonstrate that [limited service pregnancy resource centers’] failure clearly to state that no doctors are on premises has led to any negative health outcomes. Id., at 52.
The County, in the words of the pregnancy help centers, was searching for a problem to fit their Resolution (Id., at 42). The problem with the County’s problem, however, is that in the end, Montgomery County’s pregnancy centers don’t actually pose a problem to the County’s residents.
The case before the Court was a Resolution attempting to force Montgomery County’s pregnancy help centers, including Heartbeat affiliate Centro Tepeyac, to make specific disclosures stating what services they did—and did not offer.
The Resolution, Number 16-1252, originally passed Feb. 2, 2010, and required Montgomery County pregnancy help centers to post notices in specific languages and in specific locations on-site. The notices were to state that licensed medical professionals were not on the premises and that the County recommended pregnant women see a physician for a medical diagnosis of pregnancy.
Represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, Centro Tepeyac challenged the Resolution on the grounds that it violated the freedoms guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Now several years into the process, Judge Chasanow, a District of Maryland justice, clearly and cogently determined that the Resolution imposed an unconstitutional burden on the rights guaranteed to centers.
The opinion, issued Friday, March 7, 2014, was actually the District Court’s revisit to the Resolution, which was most recently reviewed July 2013 in a decision by the 4th Circuit.
Throughout its long and convoluted procedural journey, the Resolution has been analyzed and reanalyzed. The flow of the County’s argument was as follows:
In Friday’s ruling, Judge Chasanow found that the County did indeed demonstrate a compelling interest in protecting the health of women (point 1 above). The Court also assumed, for the sake of argument, that the pregnancy help centers did not make any of the statements required to be made (points 2).
However, the flaw in the County’s argument, the Court reasoned, was between points 2 and 3, where the County failed to demonstrate the connection between the pregnancy help centers’ actions (or assumed inactions) and any evidence-based harm to pregnant women.
Commenting on the County’s evidence, the Court stated:
The County attempts to elide this distinction by providing no evidence for the effect, only the alleged cause. The Waxman and NARAL reports focus on the misinformation problem. So too do all of the comments made to the County Council in support of the Resolution. These commenters – who were universally volunteers from a pro-choice organization sent to investigate LSPRCs’ practices – discussed the alleged misinformation they were provided and that that the LSPRCs were not forthcoming with the fact that they are not a medical center and that they do not provide referrals for abortions. But even assuming all that is true - that LSPRC are presenting themselves as medical providers and thus pregnant women are accepting their misinformation as sound medical advice, the County must still demonstrate the next supposition on the logical chain: that these practices are having the effect of harming the health of pregnant women. The County has failed this task.
With the County’s failure to connect the link at the earlier points, the Court never had to consider the analysis of whether the County’s Resolution passed the strict scrutiny least restrictive means test typically employed by the United States Supreme Court in such cases.
This case is a clear victory for pregnancy help centers, not only in Maryland, but across the nation.
The Court attacks the very heart of the evidence, its legitimacy and its sources. Further, the Court logically and reasonably requires the County to demonstrate in court what it should have considered at the legislative level: Does the (mis)information justify the legislation?
Though the case is likely to be appealed by the County, the strength and logic of the decision should serve as a guide for other judges considering such legislation.
Stay tuned, but in the meantime, congratulations to the Montgomery County pregnancy help centers, Alliance Defending Freedom, and the other attorneys representing and standing for life.
by Ellen Foell, Legal Counsel
1. Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County, et al.Case 8:10-cv-01259 (D. Maryland 3/7/2014)
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President
Yes, you read that right. The President signed his very first pro-life law just last month. The administration actually said that the law is aimed at “protecting the health of the woman” from dangers associated with abortion. The President went so far as to make it illegal to promote abortion as a safe procedure.
And more than that, the New York Times reported the President’s wife taking an even bolder stand in this brand new pro-life effort. She’s gone so far as to launch a nationwide campaign called “Give Me Life!” as a “week against abortion.” How amazing that the First Couple has taken such unprecedented steps for the cause of life!
Now if only other leaders of nations besides Russia would gain the realization that they are allowing their future to be aborted. But for now, we take heart that Scripture tells us, “The king's heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1, NIV).
Peggy Hartshorn, president of Heartbeat International, was a keynote speaker at the recent Moscow Demographic Summit, hosted by World Congress of Families. Political and spiritual leaders alike aligned their interests to address the devastation that abortion has wrought on the future generations of Russians and thus Russia itself.
What were once statistical predictions of demographic trends have become a bleak, stark reality for countries such as Russia, Japan, and nearly all of Western Europe. We salute Mr. Dmitri A. Medvedev, President of Russia, and his wife, Svetlana, for this valiant redirection of law, public influence, and resources in the former Communist nation. Their actions and those of other leaders like them reveal a broader movement of the Holy Spirit in changing the hearts of leaders and laymen alike to renew a culture of life. We truly take heart in the Giver of Life and the Gift of Life.
You can read more about Peggy’s visit to Russia in the coming issue of Pulse. Watch for Pulse in your inbox later this month.
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