Part-time thinker, full-time husband, daddy, pastor, and baseball fan, Jay Hobbs serves as Editor in Chief of PregnancyHelpNews.com. Prior to the site's launch in January 2015, Jay enjoyed a *lucrative career in small college sportswriting and freelance copywriting at HobbsCopy.com. Jay has been part of the staff at Heartbeat International since 2012, and currently serves as Director of Communications and Marketing. Jay's writing has appeared at The Washington Times, The Federalist and The Gospel Coalition, as well as several national pro-life news outlets.
Tonya Baker Nelson knew she was getting into a fight last January when her pro-life pregnancy help medical clinic purchased land right next door to an abortion provider in Raleigh, N.C., and it’s clear the battle is going at least one more round.
Now, after Raleigh’s Board of Adjustment decided Monday to keep A Hand of Hope Pregnancy Resource Center from moving into their new space, Baker Nelson knows she’ll have to rely on a federal lawsuit she’s filed against the city of Raleigh to get the job done.
Made up of five unelected residents, the Board of Adjustments voted, 3-2, that since A Hand of Hope serves women with free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, they qualify as a medical facility rather than a civic organization.
The latest decision reverses a 7-0 vote by Raleigh’s City Council back in November, which had ruled that A Hand of Hope could indeed use the building it purchased to serve women with life-saving care, including pregnancy tests and ultrasounds.
“The fix was in yet again,” Baker Nelson said. “There are a ton of blurred lines here in every step of the rezoning process. There has just been a ton of political overreach and operating way outside the boundaries of the roles of each specific committee.”
The Board of Adjustments was allowed to overturn that result after the abortion clinic next door—A Preferred Women’s Clinic—filed a complaint in December. Strikingly, the abortion clinic’s written complaint presented Hand of Hope with an ultimatum: they’d drop the challenge if A Hand of Hope would stop using ultrasounds and pregnancy tests.
Calle Halles, the abortion clinic’s administrator who wrote the complaint, is on the board of directors for NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.
Tweet This: "The darkness hates the light, but the light shines brightest in the darkness." #prolife #pregnancyhelp
“The degree they will go to in order to silence the voices trying everything we can do to speak for the unborn is appalling,” Baker Nelson said. “It’s sad. It really is heartbreaking to see that. The takeaway is that the darkness hates the light, but light shines brightest in the darkness.”
Baker Nelson founded A Hand of Hope in 2005 and has overseen the organization’s establishment of two locations—one in Fuquay-Varina in addition to the site that she hopes to relocate next door to the abortion business.
Currently, the rented Raleigh location is just down the street from the abortion clinic, but the space A Hand of Hope is renting could be going up for sale soon, making time of the essence for Baker Nelson and her organization to get relief from the courts.
“We really didn’t want this to go to court,” Baker Nelson said. “The whole thing is just, ‘Let us occupy our space.’ We’ll see what God’s got in store. I’m not backing down. Until we’re able to offer those women and those men a true choice and do everything we can possibly do to save that little baby’s life, we will not be satisfied.”
Baker Nelson’s passion to start a pro-life pregnancy center began after she was pressured to abort in her early 20’s. While she resisted the pressure and chose life for her daughter instead, that experience planted a seed that has blossomed into her current work.
Tweet This: Fight continues for N.C. #prolife ctr to relocate next to #abortion biz.
In late 2015, the building next door to A Preferred Women’s Clinic went up for sale. Though the building was originally zoned as residential, city plans at the time called for rezoning that would allow A Hand of Hope to relocate its services next door to the abortion business.
While the court date has yet to be set for A Hand of Hope’s federal lawsuit, scheduled renovation began on the building on Tuesday in partnership with Carpenters for Christ, a construction ministry based out of Alabama.
“What I know is that God is 100 percent in control and I am trusting Him,” Baker Nelson said. “Every single second of today, I have to remind myself that I trust Him and I trust that something bigger is at work here. It’s very humbling, but it’s a lesson in relinquishing control. I know that we will ultimately prevail.”
In some respects, it would be hard to imagine a more direct rebuke to Big Abortion than Beyoncé’s elaborate performance at Sunday night’s Grammy Awards.
After all, even avowedly leftist media sources recognized the performer’s yet-in utero twin “babies”—strange word choice, that—as the real stars of the show, which itself was hailed as a “dazzling”, “spell-binding”, “devastating and lush”, tribute to motherhood.
What could be more pro-life than celebrating motherhood, right?
Of course, that assumes we’re ready to agree that what went on was a celebration of motherhood, rather than what it actually was: an all-out coronation of the new Fertility Goddess of the West, personified by the “Queen Bey” herself.
As Matt Walsh has pointed out elsewhere, there’s really no question that Sunday night’s production fits squarely in the realm of worship, idolatry and deification. From Beyoncé’s golden appearance to her “gravity-defying” levitation thanks to the magic of special effects, to literally receiving worship from a throng of her congregants, this was idolatry in broad daylight.
It’s worth pointing out, while this event has our attention, that the cult denying motherhood through abortion is the very same one that deifies motherhood at Grammy-night spectacles.
Cut off from its rightful role as a beautiful piece of God’s creative plan, motherhood either becomes a burden to be avoided at all costs or the ultimate pathway to exalted happiness—even godhood itself.
Here’s a moment to be reminded just how freely God’s people can receive his gifts, including motherhood and fatherhood, without making them the ultimate centerpieces and slave-masters of our hearts.
“Great is Beyoncé of the Americans!”
Acts 19 records the ministry of the Apostle Paul in Ephesus, home of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis, which was a shrine to the goddess of fertility known locally as the “multi-breasted one.”
As Paul would come to find out the hard way, a cottage industry had grown up around Artemis. Not only so, but the industry had its own unions that—unsurprisingly—held a pervasive sway over the comings and goings of the city and its citizens.
Pluralism within the city thrived until a revival sprang up and “a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all.”
Tweet This: "Great is #Beyonce of the Americans!" How Beyonce's fertility cult empowers #abortion.
The whole book-burning business cost the Artemis industry a good 50,000 pieces of silver. Goodbye pluralism, hello rioting.
A silversmith and union man named Demetrius called a town meeting in response, and in no time, people were filling the streets shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
In one of his more comedic moments, the author, Luke, records, “Now some cried one thing and some another, for the whole assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together.”
For all its bluster, the vast crowd could only agree on one thing: “for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’”
It’s not so hard to imagine the scene, is it? Just substitute a temple in modern-day Turkey for the Staples Center in Los Angeles and you’re well on your way.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
Now, for a place that had deified fertility, Ephesus had a remarkably low regard for the value of human life itself. The city was home to a famous gladiatorial arena and a “tolerant” environment to the ancient-world practices of abortion, infanticide and—when deemed necessary—outright human sacrifice to appease Artemis.
To the Ephesians, the only thing that really mattered was Artemis’ honor in the temple—that, and the profit they could make from said honor, of course. If they had to kill to maintain the honor of their goddess, the people were ready and willing to do so at a moment’s notice.
As Paul could testify, crossing the will of the fertility goddess was a dangerous proposition. Her wrath could be awakened and the honor of her name avenged in a moment.
Far from a corrective to the devaluing of human life, the ancient world’s deification of fertility only served to perpetuate a culture of death. That’s always the case when man makes a play for God’s throne—the more we exalt ourselves to His position, the more vulnerable we make ourselves to the whims of, well, ourselves.
In reality, there’s no discernable difference between the cult of the fertility goddess and the altar of human sacrifice. They’re two sides to the same idolatrous coin, neighboring businesses in the marketplace of God-less humanity.
As we respond to the fallout these two lies bring, God’s people have a golden opportunity to declare the same hope-filled message the Apostle Paul brought with him to Ephesus.
Tweet This: Deification, denial of motherhood 2 sides of the same coin. #Beyonce #prolife
God has come to earth to reconcile us to Himself, and He’s done so not in the form of a Fertility Goddess, but as the death-defying Giver of Life. Rather than calling upon His people to sacrifice or deify their children, our God is one who has given us His very Son—the Son whom He loves.
His is the love that truly delivers. His is a love far more “dazzling” and “spell-binding” than the latest carnival of human exaltation.
May Beyoncé’s children remember her as a truly great mother, but may our God be remembered as the one and only Giver of Life.
Servant-leadership was on the menu Thursday night in the small town of Philadelphia, Miss., where a fundraiser drew area pastors and other church leaders to wait tables at seven local restaurants.
In what was its seventh annual event, CPC Pregnancy and Family Resource Center raised over $15,500 in a five-hour stretch—all of which will go toward the center’s ongoing services that include limited ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, parenting classes and material aid for expectant mothers.
For a town just over 7,000 in population, the fundraiser has been an effective way to stay connected within the community, executive director Pauline Karcher said.
“It’s a win for us any which way it comes,” Karcher, who is in her fourth year as the center’s director, said. “It’s a way for us to be out and visible in the community. It’s a way for our pastors to be connected with us because it gives us a chance to reconnect every year with the churches.”
Since a little competition never hurts, Karcher and her center have created an honorary plaque for the restaurant that raises the highest dollar amount. This year, the proud recipient was Ronnie’s Steak & Grill, which brought home $3,800.
Though a plaque goes to the winning restaurant, the bragging rights get shared between the eatery and the local church whose pastor waited tables. Mike Skinner, a local business owner and pastor of Standing Pine Baptist Church, mentioned the opportunity to his congregation a few weeks before the event, and had 45 of his church members show up.
“We’ve made it competitive, and that’s what makes it fun,” Karcher said. “We’re a small town, so this is a big part of our budget. What humbles me about this is to see the community come out. It shows they appreciate what we do. That, more than the money, is what moved me about the evening.”
The center, which started serving clients in 1992, was in desperate need of an upgrade in the late 2000s, Skinner said. A fundraising effort at the time, in partnership with the local Baptist association, resulted in the organization’s current facility, which was fully paid off by the time it opened.
Just before re-opening its facility, CPC Pregnancy and Family Resource Center received a $20,000 gift to purchase an ultrasound machine, which is still in service today.
Shortly after the new location opened, Skinner and others put together the center’s first tip-based fundraiser.
“It was amazing that so many people came and participated” Skinner said. “It’s a wonderful ministry. Not only does the center save babies, but it also gives the mothers parenting skills, and it’s Bible-based. It’s just an awesome program. It’s so worthwhile.”
Joseph and Daisy Pardo are hopeful U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s reinstitution of the Mexico City Policy will speed the closure of an International Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Puerto Rico.
But in the meantime, they’re celebrating the closure of two privately owned abortion businesses in early 2017, as well as an upcoming birth for a young woman with a remarkable story.
The Pardos direct the first stand-along pregnancy help center in Puerto Rico, having relocated their family of six from Tampa, Fla., in the fall of 2015. Until recently, their center, Cree Women’s Care, had been situated within just a couple hundred feet of two abortion clinics on a one-way street.
Now, just one remains. In early January, abortion practitioner Santiago Diaz abruptly shuttered both his clinic next door to Cree and his second location, which had operated directly in front of the main hospital in San Juan—and right next door to its abortion industry competitor, “Clinica Iella” a local affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).
Just three days after his inauguration, Jan. 23, President Trump reinstated a policy that keeps $100 million out of the hands of IPPF as part of the broader protection of $607.5 million in overseas funding that now cannot go toward international organizations that promote or perform abortions.
That action, the Pardos hope, makes Clinica Iella the next clinic to put up a “For Sale” sign in the window.
“This is one of the busiest abortion clinics on the Island,” Daisy Pardo said, pointing out that Clinica Iella is known locally for its use of the RU-486 abortion pill regimen. “[The Mexico City Policy] is going to, we pray, directly affect this clinic, so that we can go down to six abortion clinics in Puerto Rico. That’s what we’re praying, because they do receive the funds from International Planned Parenthood.”
Beyond San Juan: A Community in Action
Made aware of the 17,000 abortions that take place in Puerto Rico each year, the Pardos strategically chose to locate their ultrasound-equipped medical center within a mile of three abortion clinics, in Bayamon, near the capitol city of San Juan.
While the Pardos’ long-term vision is to establish life-saving pregnancy centers next to every abortion clinic in Puerto Rico, they’re already seeing a wide-reaching impact of the pro-life community in action.
Tweet This: Puerto Rico #prolife ctr hoping @realDonaldTrump policy will close down #IPPF #abortion mill.
In October 2016, while they were visiting supporters in Tampa, Daisy took a call from a young woman in Ponce, an hour and a half drive to the opposite side of the island from San Juan. At first it didn’t seem that the woman—who was four months pregnant—was considering aborting her baby, but as the two kept in contact, it became apparent she felt like abortion was her only option.
“This really burdened me, so right then and there, I wrote this long email and talked to her about fetal development, abortion—what kind of an abortion she would get at this point in the pregnancy—and adoption and our services,” Pardo said. “I also gave her direct contacts so she wouldn’t feel it’d be hard thing to get through to someone.”
Facing the threat of homelessness and abandonment from her family, the young woman ended up booking an abortion a day later, but thankfully, she let Pardo know what she was planning to do late the night before.
The next morning, Pardo called her to see if they could have one last conversation before the abortion. The woman, “Victoria,” answered her phone from inside the abortion clinic waiting room.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh Lord Jesus, I’m in Tampa. Why?’” Pardo said. “This was on the other side of the Island, so it’s not like I know a lot of people there. Even though I was born there, I left when I was young and most of my friends are in the U.S. already, so I just don’t have a lot of contacts yet.”
When Victoria agreed to meet up with someone face-to-face prior to going through with her abortion, Pardo reached out to a Ponce-based ob-gyn and pastor she had only met briefly. Still, he was the best hope for Pardo—and Victoria—going forward.
One problem: the doctor was in Orlando when he answered his phone.
But, while he couldn’t meet Victoria at the abortion clinic, he knew a woman in his church who would be willing to help. In the meantime, Pardo reached out to a friend she hoped would know someone in Ponce as well.
Before long, two women who’d never met each other—or Pardo—and who hadn’t been trained to work in a pregnancy center, left their workplaces and were en route to meet up with Victoria at the clinic.
“So when she gets out of the abortion clinic, there’s these two girls,” Pardo said. “They met with her at a Wendy’s—yes there’s Wendy’s in Puerto Rico—and they just go, ‘The Lord loves you so much. You are not aborting this baby.’ They prayed with her and asked her what they could do to help her, and she just felt God working.
“She sent me a text message saying how powerful the conversation was. She said, ‘I just want to thank you so much for what you and your friends have done.’ I thought it was hilarious because she said, my ‘friends,’ but I don’t even know them. She said, ‘I don’t know what I would do if you were not there.’”
In January, Pardo finally had the chance to meet her two “friends”—one a teacher and one a worker at a nursing home—at Victoria’s baby shower in San Juan.
Though the past few months were a trying time for Victoria, she’s seen a turnaround in her relationships with key family members, including her mother and grandmother, who were both there at the baby shower as well.
“One of Victoria’s fears was that she would get kicked out of her home, and her grandparents did do that,” Pardo said. “But God was so good. He has used this to reunite her with her biological mom and restart a relationship with her. They were all there at the baby shower: the grandma who kicked her out, the mom who received her, and everybody who was there for her at the moment. It was a very sweet time.”
What does the average workday look like at a local Planned Parenthood? Other than “performing” abortions, engaging in the resale of body parts harvested from aborted babies and throwing pizza parties after hitting a quota for abortions, that is.
At least one Planned Parenthood office has found a new way to pass the time: harassing nearby pro-life pregnancy centers by posting negative Google reviews.
That’s what three high-ranking employees of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania were up to Feb. 2, targeting all four locations of Pittsburgh-based Women’s Choice Network with an onslaught of one-star reviews that were accompanied by a message pointing potential clients to Planned Parenthood.
“Not a full service women’s healthcare provider,” wrote Katie Horowitz, Planned Parenthood’s regional vice president of education. “This place is an anti-abortion front that tries to trick women. Please see Planned Parenthood or Allegheny Reproductive Health Center instead.”
By the time a Women’s Choice Network director saw the negative reviews at the end of last week, Horowitz and her co-workers had posted about a dozen reviews across the network’s four Google Local listings in the space of just 24 hours.
Women’s Choice Network executive director Amy Scheuring’s first order of business was to double-check her records and make sure none of the negative reviews came from actual clients. That’s when she confirmed the Planned Parenthood connection, which includes Horowitz and Katherine Schott and Rebecca Label—both staff clinicians with Planned Parenthood.
Horowitz is a known fake client at pregnancy centers in the Pittsburgh area, Scheuring pointed out, and recently visited one of Women’s Choice Network’s locations, where staff identified her.
“I think that Planned Parenthood feels very threatened in this political climate,” Scheuring, who has encouraged supporters to pray for the Planned Parenthood staffers by name, said. “They’re going to lash out at who they perceive as the enemy, so I really think that’s where a lot of this is coming from.”
While Scheuring worked with her website contractor, Brad Mandel of Ad America, to flag and remove many of the negative reviews over the weekend, as of Wednesday morning, one listing that had a 4.7 out of 5-star rating last week was down to 3.9.
Scheuring, who credited her staff’s vigilance to catch the negative reviews before they did any further damage, said the blitz came at the tail end of a month where her centers served 89 new clients with free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, peer counseling and more.
Tweet This: #PPAct staff hassling local #prolife centers with fake #Google reviews.
“This is an item for prayer. People need to know that we’re targeted,” Scheuring, who has served in her current role since 2003, said. “I really felt like that was a shot across the bow that said, ‘We’re watching you. We’re going to negatively review your center.’
“One of the messages for us who are on the front lines is, we need to be checking our web presence all the time.”
Mandel, who works with over 150 pregnancy centers, said that though some negative reviews—usually dealing with outdated information such as operating hours and location address—are legitimate, one key is to respond positively and quickly to a negative reviewer.
Additionally, pregnancy centers are also able to flag negative reviews for policy violations, which is what Mandel did on behalf of Women’s Choice Network.
“My common response is, ‘Let’s leave an owner response on that review as quickly as possible and also flag it,’” Mandel said. “Even if we don’t get it removed, at least we are telling a client or prospective client that we’re taking a stance for all the things we do well in the center.”
Another factor that goes into the Women’s Choice Network’s dip from 4.7 to 3.9 stars is the number of total reviews on the Google Local listing. Since the page only has a total of 15 client reviews, the flurry of one-star reviews disproportionately impact the overall rating.
A long-term strategy to help overcome the negative impact is to encourage positive Google reviews from clients and other community members, Tim Stephens of Extend Web Services, which also serves over 150 pregnancy help clients, said.
In fact, a 2016 report from Care Net, a national network of over 1,100 pregnancy help centers, shows 97 percent of all pregnancy center clients reported a positive experience, indicating a wide pool of perspective reviewers.
“If you can’t get a negative review removed, your best option is to gather positive reviews to help offset the negative rating,” Stephens said. “These reviews can be written by anyone who has had interaction with your center so long as they aren’t a staff or board member. This is one more reminder of how important it is for a center to be proactive in upholding their online reputation.”
Tweet This: 97 percent of pregnancy center clients report a positive experience, per @InspireLifeNow
Stephens noted he’s also dealing with a similar issue with one of his clients, where pro-abortion activists have been caught using Facebook to plan an online attack against a pregnancy center by attempting to make changes that include marking the center as permanently closed on the Google Local listing.
Unlike negative reviews, where a Google Local page owner’s options are limited, proposed changes to key information are subject to a Local page owner's approval.
“It’s disconcerting, to say the least, to see these types of blatant and shameful attacks on the pregnancy help community,” Stephens said. “Attacks like this are pretty common in the business world, where competitors can disparage a local business with a couple of bad reviews, so it’s helpful to know a bad review isn’t a death sentence, but it’s something we can work to overcome.”
Tweet This: #Hawaii lawmakers to force #prolife centers to promote #abortion clinics.
If ever we had a dearth of reporting and commentating on abortion in this country—and I believe we have—the past week or so should go a good distance to cure that.
Abortion was in the news starting with the so-called “Women’s March” on Jan. 21. The march started as a protest against the purported overall badness of newly inaugurated President Donald Trump, but by the time the laundry was out drying on the line, a pointed focus on abortion became undeniable.
Amid the turmoil, abortion enthusiasts like NARAL and Planned Parenthood rose to the fore, while pro-life groups including New Wave Feminists and Stanton Healthcare were cast aside for their unorthodox—and therefore, non-womanly—views concerning the personhood of babies living in the womb.
Meanwhile, what can only be described as the insane ramblings of a lunatic mind appeared in the pages of The Atlantic, asserting that ultrasounds are dangerous tools of witchcraft used by ideologues to fabricate and perpetuate the illusion that a baby in the womb has such attributes as heartbeats, organs, arms and legs.
As of Saturday afternoon, the article is only four days old, but is posted online with 10 lines worth of retraction notes, “significantly revised” as the editor’s note above the article correctly indicates.
(In the time between, I’d be remiss to omit—and may need a “significant revision” if I did—Heartbeat International brought seven moms to Washington, D.C. to meet with their lawmakers and tell their stories in the “Babies Go to Congress” event. Five of those seven moms told their congressmen that an ultrasound in a pregnancy center played a significant role in helping them reject abortion and choose life.)
It was in this atmosphere, lest readers from the future should perchance stumble upon this article, that The Washington Post ran a truly enlightening piece called, “Why these activists don’t like calling themselves ‘pro-life’ anymore.”
The article focuses on Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life, who spoke at Heartbeat International’s 2015 Annual Conference and gained her first experience in pro-life work at her local pregnancy center in Steubenville, Ohio.
Here’s how the Post article introduces Hawkins’ argument:
The term “pro-life” — used by abortion opponents to proudly define the value at the heart of their movement for 44 years since Roe v. Wade — is out of favor among many young adults today.
And Hawkins, the president of Students for Life, said that her organization is turning instead to a term that the media has long used to describe these activists, usually over the activists’ objections: “antiabortion.”
“We’re against abortion. I think it’s much simpler. It gets across what we’re about in a faster way,” said Hawkins, 31. “It’s already a bad thing. To say you’re against it is okay. I am antismoking. I’m anti-sex trafficking. I’m anti-drunk driving. And yes, I’m antiabortion.”
Now, as a young adult myself—full disclosure: I did get called “sir” by a kid in his early 20’s the other day, and still haven’t forgiven him that particular trespass—and a pro-life activist, of sorts, I have just one word for Hawkins. Amen.
And, as I leave Washington, D.C. and head back to my happy home in Midwestern flyover country this evening, I want to call my fellow pro-lifers—whether young or old adults, or somewhere else on the spectrum—to listen closely to what Hawkins is arguing.
What she’s saying effectively amounts to a plea to her friends in the pro-life movement: Let’s make pro-life anti-abortion again.
Tweet This: @KristanHawkins is right: Let's make #prolife #antiabortion again. @Students4LifeHQ
Before I go any further, it’s perhaps helpful to note (it is to me at least) that Hawkins is emphatically not arguing that we ditch our emphasis on meeting the needs of mothers and families faced with unexpected pregnancies. It’s been said before and it bears repeating, a woman “chooses” abortion like a man “chooses” to saw his arm off when it’s caught under a rock.
Abortion, seen through this lens, is an “unchoice.” The main way we meet that need, then, is to provide such a woman with true choice by ensuring she has a chance to fully understand her situation, know her options, learn about her rapidly growing baby via ultrasound, and get every piece of material assistance she so desperately needs.
If we meet those needs—which gets to the purpose for which pregnancy help centers exist—we’re giving her a “choice” she never knew she had.
So, why do folks like Kristan Hawkins want to make pro-life “anti-abortion” again?
The answer is clarity. There exists a problem, an unthinkable crime against humanity called abortion. We are against it. We want it to end forever, to see it tossed onto the “ash heap of history” along with those laws that enable it to continue unchecked.
Properly applied, “pro-life” is synonymous with “anti-abortion.” The problem comes in when we try to load other issues—important as they may be—into our understanding of what it means to be “pro-life.”
This winter, I read my kids a storybook called, “The Mitten.” First, a mouse finds a lost mitten in the snow and makes it his snuggly home. Next comes a squirrel, followed by a fox, then a bear. Eventually, the mitten can’t bear the size and scope of the animals, and flies away, careening into the winter’s afternoon.
The more we load “pro-life” with crucial issues—immigration, poverty relief, clean water, even human trafficking and capital punishment—other than abortion, infanticide or euthanasia, the closer we’re getting to the day when we’ve overstretched our terms. Soaring goes the mitten.
Can we be “pro-life” and hold differing views on immigration? Absolutely. At least so long as nobody is advocating the intentional, targeted murdering of immigrants. Can “pro-lifers” disagree on capital punishment or the size and scope of the government when it comes to meeting the needs presented by poverty?
I believe we can, but it’s precisely here that we need clarity. Abortion is the legalized shedding of innocent blood, and that’s why we oppose it. From root to leaf, it’s a moral outrage unmatched by any other issue we face as a society.
There’s only so much room in the mitten, and that’s why clarity is needed—especially now, at a moment when the Goliath of abortion is staggering and ready to fall.
Let’s make “pro-life” “anti-abortion” again. Then, let's continue to make abortion unthinkable altogether.
Tweet This: Let's make #prolife #antiabortion again. Then, let's make #abortion unthinkable. @Students4LifeHQ
Among the vast crowd that descended on the nation’s capitol Friday for the 44th annual March for Life, one first-time marcher, a young single mother named Janai, personified the event’s 2017 theme, “The Power of One.”
Just a year ago, Janai’s world felt like it was coming to an end. Janai was only a few classes shy of earning her bachelor’s degree in Houston’s impoverished Fifth Ward when she was date raped.
In the blink of an eye, Janai went from the cusp of graduation to the specter of facing an unexpected pregnancy that threatened far more than her educational and career goals. A native of Washington, D.C., Janai was still relatively new to Houston and so distant from a family support structure that she was now facing the threat of homelessness.
No matter how many pregnancy tests Janai took, they all told her the truth she would eventually need to face head-on. And she was going to have to do it alone.
“I felt like a stereotype, that everything was wrong,” Janai said. “When you’re young, pregnant, not married, everyone thinks you’re crazy. I didn’t want that. It was hard.”
Pregnant, alone and with what seemed like insurmountable obstacles lying before her, Janai began searching online for a free pregnancy test and free ultrasound near her. She needed proof of her pregnancy to apply for state-level assistance, but as she looked online, she found that most clinics near her would charge $40 to run the tests she needed.
One search result stood out, however, and it was Houston Pregnancy Help Centers, a pro-life medical clinic with locations downtown and in the Fifth Ward. The organization offers free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds at both locations, so Janai made an appointment at the Fifth Ward site.
“I was praying that she was going to say ‘No,’” Janai says of that initial ultrasound. “It changed my life. It was amazing. I heard a heartbeat, and it wasn’t just any heartbeat, it was a heartbeat that my body created.”
Along with the technological help that the ultrasound provided, Janai recalls that the nonjudgmental support and understanding of the center’s ultrasound nurse helped give her the confidence she needed to continue with her pregnancy.
In time, the center would connect her to a community resource called Lifehouse, a maternity home for expectant mothers. Janai lived there until she gave birth to baby “Marz” in November. She then walked with her degree in marketing in late December, marking the end of an eventful year for both mother and child.
Tweet This: #Houston mom personifies Power of One at @MarchforLife. #prolife #WhyWeMarch
“I never thought I’d be the type of person who could push a stroller, carrying a baby and holding a bottle with my chin while trying to pay a bill,” Janai said. “It’s so funny how life works out. I just got a lot of support from the pregnancy center, and it was the extra support I needed. Everyone I connected with through Fifth Ward Pregnancy Center was so genuine and caring. I was just amazed.”
Over the past year, while Janai has moved from initial contact to new mom, the staff at the pregnancy center has kept up with her, checking in to see if there was anything they could do to help her throughout her pregnancy and into motherhood.
Before she welcomed Marz, Janai got a call from Lauren Barron, Fifth Ward Pregnancy Center’s case manager, asking if she would be willing to attend the March for Life, as well as Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress, which took place on Thursday before the march.
Tweet This: Ultrasound "changed my life," says mom who chose life at #prolife ctr. #WhyWeMarch @MarchForLife
As part of Babies Go to Congress, Janai and her baby girl made four visits to congressional offices Thursday, including those of Texas Republican senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and two Democratic members of the House of Representatives, acting as a show-and-tell embodiment of the power of one.
“It’s hard, I can’t lie, but I don’t think I would have made any other choice, or that any other choice would have made me as happy as I am now,” Janai said. “I’m just really thankful for the pregnancy center, because I’ve gotten clothes, classes, counseling, just everything that I needed to survive.”
*Editor's Note: The original version of this story claimed that Laura paid Planned Parenthood in advance of an abortion appointment. Instead, she lost $600 in cash at the Planned Parenthood clinic where she had gone for an abortion. The current version of this story reflects this.
There is no doubt in Laura’s mind that a free ultrasound test at a pregnancy center saved her son, Cash’s, life.
When she found out she was pregnant, Laura was a single mom of two girls, having struggled without child support, working two jobs and making ends meet thanks to government assistance for the past eight years.
Still, she had scratched and clawed her way into nursing school in Phoenix, Ariz., and had been looking forward to providing a better life for her daughters.
“When I got pregnant with him, it was really scary—I didn’t know how I was going to do it,” Laura said in a video recorded Jan. 25 at the opening night of Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress event in Washington, D.C.
Laura told Cash’s father she was pregnant, but he not only denied that Cash was his child, he gave her money to get an abortion. That was the last thing Laura wanted to do, but at the time, the fear of raising another baby on her own made abortion feel like her only choice.
That fear was only reinforced when Laura began to fall behind in her classes while she was pregnant. Her professor gave her a failing grade, but the message she sent along with it was infinitely more painful.
“She failed me out by two points and told me my ‘aquatic parasite’ was draining my memory,” Laura said. “Then, I lost my job, I was losing my house and going through all of this. It was really hard.”
So, Laura took Cash’s father’s advice and decided she would go to an Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. Prior to her visit, however, Laura was having dreams where God came to her and reassured her that everything was going to work out for good for her and her three children.
While they were in the Planned Parenthood clinic, Cash's father lost $600 from his pocket, which the couple never found. Now out $600, Laura was led to the back room for an abortion, but she couldn’t stop crying, so the clinic offered to abort her baby the following Sunday.
Tweet This: Mom lost $600 at #PPAct, but #ultrasound helped her choose life. #WhyWeMarch #Prolifemarch
That Sunday, Laura and Cash’s father went back to Planned Parenthood. Just before they went in, Laura began to talk with a pro-life sidewalk counselor who engaged her and helped Laura address her burning question: “What is God trying to tell me?”
The two women left the clinic together and went to Life Choices Women’s Clinic, which is closed Sundays but opened up just to see Laura. During the free ultrasound, Laura and Cash’s father saw what would not only change her mind, but save her son’s life.
“It was the first time we really saw our baby,” Laura said. “Planned Parenthood showed us, basically, a piece of tissue that they were going to remove from my uterus. When I saw my baby, he actually had arms, legs, feet, hands.”
From that moment, Life Choices, which serves women in three locations throughout the Phoenix area, has been a constant champion for Laura.
At one point, her computer had crashed, leaving her without her previous coursework and without a way to move forward with her classes. When Laura told her friends at Life Choices, they invited her to the center and surprised her with a new computer.
“Like they said they would, they’ve always been there for us—always,” Laura said. “I’m the happiest mommy in the whole wide world.”
Joined by her energetic 2-year-old boy, Laura told her story along with six more moms who, like her, had chosen life for their children when abortion seemed to be their only choice. For five of the seven total mothers, a free ultrasound at a community-based pro-life pregnancy center proved to be a crucial moment in their decision for life. Over 61 percent of Heartbeat International's 1,300 pregnancy help center locations in the U.S. offer free ultrasound services, according to the 2015 Life Trends Report.
The seven moms will be on Capitol Hill on Thursday, meeting with members of Congress to tell their stories and show why pregnancy help centers are good for America.
Whoever tells you imitation is the highest form of flattery hasn’t seen a new video released by Live Action, exposing the fact that Planned Parenthood does not—contrary to it’s CEO’s repeated claims—provide prenatal care.
Referral, not imitation, is the highest form of flattery.
The video, “Abortion, Not Prenatal Care at Planned Parenthood,” combines recorded phone calls and in-person conversations with staff at local Planned Parenthood clinics in all 41 of the abortion giant’s regional affiliates throughout the U.S.
Turns out, after contacting 97 separate Planned Parenthood locations, Live Action could only find five that offered prenatal care.
(That comes out to an average of—let’s see—less than five percent of locations even making an attempt to offer the prenatal care Planned Parenthood shrieks will go bye-bye should Congressional Republicans cut them off from their $550 million in annual taxpayer funds.)
One of those calls was to a location in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Appropriately enough, the film was captured April 1, 2016—April Fool’s!—and shows a Planned Parenthood employee admit her site does not provide prenatal care.
Then, she refers her patient to Care Net Pregnancy Center of Albuquerque.
Serving women in five locations—including a mobile unit—with free services from ultrasound and pregnancy testing to STD testing, material aid, parenting classes and post-abortion recovery groups, Care Net meets the needs of between 5,000-6,000 clients every year at absolutely no cost.
Quite the contrast from Planned Parenthood’s business model, which—as Live Action’s video captures—only exists to conduct abortions. At least that’s how their staff on the ground understands the game plan.
Tweet This: @LiveAction video shows even #PPAct staffer knows they don't offer #prenatal care. #DefundPP
In terms of illumination value, this little 3-minute video has everything—except, you know, prenatal care—including a mind-boggling clip that captures the switch-over from a recorded answering queue to a live receptionist. Instead of elevator music, a potential patient in Virginia Beach, Va., hears a promise of a full suite of services, including prenatal care.
The house of cards crumbles right away when the receptionist picks up and is asked whether or not they have prenatal care. The answer? “No we don’t, not at the moment.” Not only that, the receptionist rattles off two more Virginia locations that also don’t offer prenatal care by the time the conversation’s over.
With all this talk about failing to offer the prenatal care it promises patients—and taxpayers—it almost feels like the term, “Planned Parenthood” is being misapplied in a deceptive way, since “parenthood” doesn’t have anything to do with the end game.
In fact, two separate Planned Parenthood employees call their own organization’s name “deceptive” throughout the video, including one in Boise, Idaho, who admits there aren’t any ob-gyn’s on staff before blurting out between laughs, “Which is a deceptive name, right? I think the same thing.”
This is some incredibly revealing news to pro-life pregnancy centers and medical clinics, which have long been accused by the abortion lobby of engaging in deception through advertising, naming strategies and signage.
It’s a stroke of pure irony that Live Action’s video went live the very same day an antagonistic, NARAL Pro-Choice America-backed city government official admitted he couldn’t find any evidence the centers were engaged in deception—this despite a month-long comprehensive undercover investigation.
No wonder the abortion giant’s Albuquerque staff referred her patient elsewhere. “Parenthood” is not part of the “Plan.”
File this under low-hanging fruit: NARAL Pro-Choice America’s California state director Amy Everitt wants the world to believe that, in her words, “abortion is the most safest medical procedure in America.”
Spoken at a Los Angeles City Council committee meeting earlier this week, Everitt’s word-sin of doubling up superlatives is hardly the most striking infraction packed into the statement.
Everitt, who has said she and her group would deny the First Amendment right of free speech to pro-life individuals and pregnancy centers if given the chance, is wrong on at least four counts in her politically driven assertion:
1. Half the patients die in an abortion.
There is no “medical procedure” on the planet more dangerous than abortion, which—at the very least 92 percent of the time—brings in two perfectly healthy patients and kills one of them.
In fact, “dangerous” isn’t really the right word, when you consider the rate of “successful” abortions. With very few exceptions—praise God there are any!—virtually every baby who goes into an abortion clinic in his or her mother’s womb is killed.
That the one patient who dies is a defenseless child in the most vulnerable of situations only amplifies the lethality of abortion.
Taking two healthy people and killing one of them is hardly what I’d call “safe.” In fact, I’d call it downright “lethal.”
2. Nobody knows how many California babies are aborted.
Along with Maryland, California stands apart from the rest of U.S. states in that abortion providers are not required at all to report the number of abortions they carry out.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, in fact, only 27 states require providers to report any post-abortion complications. Guess what state is not in that list? You got it, California.
Tweet This: @ProChoiceCA dir: "abortion is most safest" med procedure in U.S... Well, no. No it isn't.
This is no minor point for pro-aborts in California. Back in 2015, when the so-called “Reproductive FACT Act” was being duked out in California’s state Senate, Los Angeles Senator Holly Mitchell cited the fact that California doesn’t report abortions as a rebuttal to a fellow senator quoting national abortion statistics since Roe v. Wade made abortion on-demand legal in all 50 states in 1973.
Considering only half of U.S. states are even required to report on post-abortion complications, Everitt’s statement is unverifiable at best, and a straight-up lie at the worst.
3. Abortion clinics close whenever regulations are introduced.
Take abortion providers in the state of Texas, for example, which passed its HB2 legislation in 2013 that set the stage for the 2016 Supreme Court case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
The law simply required abortion clinics to make their hallways big enough to allow a gurney to fit through, and obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their abortion business. Yet, that was enough to close down half of the state's abortion clinics.
While the Supreme Court struck down HB2 as representing “undue burden,” it enshrined a status quo that allows abortion business to operate under conditions that continue to keep women from getting emergency care if there should be complications.
Even the fact that such a law would require changes should be alarming enough, not to mention that half of the abortion clinics in Texas closed down shop rather than meeting their clients with a base-level of care.
The same is happening in Ohio, where Founder’s Women’s Health Clinic is on the verge of closing because they can’t comply with a state regulation that requires them to have admitting privileges. This despite the fact that the clinic is just blocks away from the state capitol in Columbus, where a dozen hospitals are in operation, including teaching hospitals associated with Ohio State University.
When a hospital cuts ties with your business, it’s pretty safe to assume you aren’t, well, safe. And you probably aren’t health care, either.
Tweet This: Every abortion ends with the death of 1 patient. How's that for safety? #WhyWeMarch
4. Childbirth is safer than abortion.
Along with her claim that abortion is “the most safest medical procedure in America,” Everitt parrots the oft-trotted out canard that abortion is safer than childbirth.
Well, it isn’t. But don’t ask me—or Everitt, who has zero medical training or experience—ask the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which has stated that the two data points of childbirth and abortion aren’t even comparable.
Furthermore, researchers Dr. Priscilla Coleman and Dr. David Reardon have demonstrated exactly the opposite. Writing at National Review, Michael New summarizes:
Overall, Reardon and Coleman found very strong evidence that giving birth is in fact safer than obtaining an abortion. The mortality rate for the women who gave birth was significantly lower than the mortality rate for women who obtained abortions. This finding was robust as it held true for every time period studied — from one year to ten years after the pregnancy. Overall, during the course of the entire study period, women who had early abortions had mortality rates that were almost 80 percent higher than women who carried their pregnancy to term. Interestingly, women who had late-term abortions had significantly higher mortality rates than those who had abortions earlier in pregnancy. (Emphasis added)
Still, Everitt insisted that “medically acclaimed” studies—whatever those are—show childbirth to be more dangerous than abortion.
It does make you wonder, to put it in Everitt’s parlance, which study is “most bestest.”
City officials in Los Angeles would love nothing better than to nail pregnancy centers on lying, deceiving and shaming women into rejecting abortion. There’s just one problem: they can’t find any evidence it’s happening.
That was the dilemma Travis Austin of the city’s Consumer Litigation and Workplace Protection Unit put forth Monday at a committee-level meeting for the Los Angeles City Council.
Austin had assigned undercover investigators to inspect six nonprofit pro-life pregnancy centers throughout Los Angeles starting in mid-May of 2016, but his team of investigators could not find any evidence of false information or deceptive advertising by the organizations in its month-long effort.
Originally tipped off that the six pregnancy centers were out of compliance with California’s so-called “Reproductive FACT Act”—a 2015 law that may be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court on First Amendment grounds—Austin said he assembled a “proactive game plan” to investigate the centers.
The undercover investigation, according to Austin, included a review of all marketing and client-focused informational brochures, as well as interviews with employees at the centers.
In the end, his office found no evidence of misleading or false advertising.
Tweet This: @LACityCouncil report shows #prolife centers tell the truth.
“The investigations were more comprehensive than just going in and going in to see if they were in compliance with the Reproductive FACT Act,” Austin said at a meeting of the City Council’s Health, Mental Health and Education Committee. “They included undercover operations to see if they were also engaged in these deceptive business practices. The investigations took a little more than a month to complete.
“Because the only violations that we discovered were violations of the Reproductive FACT Act, we decided to provide a notice of violation and provide everyone 30 days, as the law did just come into existence.”
Though Austin’s team, under the direction of City Attorney Mike Feuer, did force compliance of the Reproductive FACT Act on the community-funded centers, the fact that their investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the centers isn't stopping them from continuing to put pressure on the centers.
"The most safest medical procedure in America"
The lack of any evidence that pregnancy centers deceive or mislead women runs to contrary the vehement assertion by abortion lobbyist Amy Everitt, the state director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, who backed the Reproductive FACT Act and was at Monday’s hearing to accuse pregnancy centers and national pro-life groups of misleading women.
Everitt, who has stated on record that her group would deprive pregnancy centers of their First Amendment rights if given the opportunity, opened the meeting by calling attention to what she said was misleading and false information on two websites: Avenues Crisis Pregnancy Clinic of Southern California, and Option Line, a national 24-7 pregnancy helpline operated by Heartbeat International.
Though Everitt claimed that Avenues Crisis Pregnancy Clinic called itself an abortion clinic on its website, not only does the website make no such claim, it includes on the front page of its home page the statement, “Not an abortion provider.”
Everitt also complained that the information on Option Line’s “Morning After Pill” page was “not medically accurate,” though the page itself includes eight separate citations from the Plan B One-Step packaging insert and is regularly reviewed by the 13 medical professionals on Heartbeat International’s Medical Advisory Council.
Everitt, who holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from UC Santa Cruz and a master’s in International Pacific Affairs from UC San Diego, then went on to assert the relative safety of abortion—as far as the mother is concerned, that is—calling it, “the most safest (sic) medical procedure in America.”
Then, Everitt claimed that one in three women in the U.S. have an abortion before the age of 45, a statistic that even the abortion-friendly The Washington Post has debunked as a "whopper."
Can Life Get a Witness?
Nine pro-abortion witnesses followed Everitt, including members of the pro-abortion California Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, while only one pro-life witness, Andrea Vancura, was allowed to speak.
“Pregnancy resource centers exist to promote community health and empower us women by offering an array of free and/or ultra-low cost pregnancy and sexual health services to underserved populations in L.A., as well as complete information about all options in the interest of promoting fully informed consent,” Vancura said.
“No pregnancy resource center advertises they perform abortions—that would be false and deceptive advertising. They simply advertise that they provide free services that abortion providers charge for: pregnancy tests, ultrasound, STD testing, and so on and so forth. Individuals are free to make their own choices, but freedom of speech provides that the government cannot force an organization to make referrals they believe to be harmful.”
“L.A. is showing it does not support grassroots, community-based, free and low-cost social and healthcare assistance services, but would rather push us to businesses whose financial bottom line is based on profiting on our lives and our bodies.”
Tweet This: @LACityCouncil is showing it does not support low-cost health care services. #prolife
While the City Attorney’s office has found no evidence of false or misleading advertising by pregnancy centers and there are no open complaints about pregnancy centers in the city or county of Los Angeles, the committee requested an update from Travis in 90 days.
That 90-day window could prove to be another key opportunity for the City Attorney’s office to investigate pro-life nonprofits throughout their jurisdictions.
“As far as investigating pregnancy centers go, we welcome any group—government or otherwise—to conduct a good-faith effort to learn more about the good work our community does every day all throughout the world,” Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International, which has 74 affiliates in California, said. “All of our affiliates, as well as those of other national groups commit to advertising that is both truthful and honest, accurately describing the services we offer.
“Pregnancy help centers are good for America, as well as the communities and individual clients they serve. The results of this investigation go a long way in affirming the integrity and good-will of pregnancy centers.”
For the third year in a row, 2016 marked an alarming rise in the crime rate of Los Angeles, with violent crimes up by 38 percent over the past three years and a marked reversal of the city’s crime rate that was on the decline starting in the early 1990s.
Assistant Police Chief Michael Moore, who coordinates patrol operations in the Metropolitan Division, has pointed to trends in unemployment, homelessness and substance abuse while identifying shooting victims as the LAPD’s “most pressing matter right now”.
“It’s like fighting fires—spot fires,” Moore told the Los Angeles Times in December. “We have a finite number of resources, and at the end of the day, the LAPD isn’t going to fix this.”
While Moore and his fellow police offers deal with increase in violent crime, however, one place they should be looking to for help is spending its time harassing six local nonprofits that provide free ultrasounds, baby clothes and peer counseling.
Led by City Attorney Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles City Council made headlines midway through 2016 when it became the first—and only, to date—municipality in the state to enforce a 2015 state law that mandates community funded pregnancy centers to tell their clients where and how they can obtain free abortions through Medi-Cal, which is funded by state taxpayers.
Monday morning, the City Council opens a new chapter in its ongoing crusade against pro-life pregnancy centers, with its Health, Mental Health, and Education Committee set to hear testimony from abortion advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice California.
Tweet This: As crime increases, @LACityCouncil continues its crusade vs. #prolife centers.
The goal of the hearing—which takes place at 10:30 a.m. (PST)—is to “discuss how the city can combat… flagrant deceptions,” according to an email from NARAL’s state director Amy Everett to supporters sent last week.
Everett, who has gone on record saying she would stop pregnancy centers from exercising their constitutional right to free speech, identified the “flagrant deceptions” the pro-life nonprofits are guilty of as follows:
While pregnancy centers do in fact advertise on the web for their options counseling and abortion-information consultation, and some are utilizing big-data enabled target marketing to reach clients who have visited abortion clinics, none of the charges represents any challenge legally or ethically, says Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International.
“Every woman should have all the information she needs to protect her child and herself during an unexpected pregnancy,” Godsey, whose organization has 74 affiliate locations in the state, said. “Doesn’t the City Council have better things to do with its precious few resources than harassing nonprofits that serve women free of charge?”
While it is unclear what action the City Council would decided to undertake, the hearing fits in with the abortion lobby’s trend of leveraging state and local government power against pro-life pregnancy help organizations.
In 2015, California passed the so-called “Reproductive FACT Act,” which forces ultrasound-equipped pregnancy help clinics to speak a state-specified message to clients that includes—at the very least—an indirect referral for an abortion. That law is being challenged in the courts and is likely on its way to the Supreme Court, as early as this year.
Midway through 2016, Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a change to the state’s Healthcare Right of Conscience Act that will force all pro-life medical professionals—including those at pregnancy clinics—to keep a cultivated list of nearby abortion providers to give to clients and be ready to counsel them as to the “benefits” of abortion.
A judge has already granted a partial preliminary injunction in that case, but a larger statewide case is ongoing.
Last week, Connecticut lawmakers introduced a bill that could have the same effects as the California Reproductive FACT Act, though the details of the bill have not yet been disclosed.
Past attempts by state and local governments to force pregnancy centers into promoting abortion have been defeated in the court systems in New York City, Austin (TX), Baltimore (MD), Montgomery County (MD)—the latter of which ended up costing taxpayers $330,000 in lawyer fees.
In California, pro-lifers have launched a petition in support of pregnancy centers (here), which reads as follows:
Dear Mr. Feuer,
Crisis Pregnancy Centers, more commonly known as Pregnancy Resource Centers, are non-profit organizations that provide an array of women's health services to the community. Some of the services provided at various Pregnancy Resource Centers include pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, counseling, material assistance for women in need, STD testing, and prenatal care. Most of these services are provided free of charge, and most centers operate entirely on private donations.
Because Pregnancy Resource Centers are equipped to help pregnant women make informed choices, their target audience is generally women who are pregnant. It is fitting, therefore, that they target their advertising to this audience.
Mr. Feuer, on Monday, January 23, the LA City Council Health Committee will be discussing with you how to limit their advertising. We wholeheartedly oppose this censoring. As a concerned citizen, I respectfully ask you not to censor the advertisements of Crisis Pregnancy Centers!
A group of Democratic legislators in Connecticut are aiming to silence pro-life pregnancy help centers, with seven state lawmakers submitting a proposal for a bill Thursday to the state’s Joint Committee on Public Health.
The proposed bill comes 18 months after a NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut vilified the state’s 19 nonprofit pregnancy help centers in a 30-page accusation titled, “The Right to Lie: Crisis Pregnancy Centers in Connecticut.”
While details of the bill are scant due to the state’s legislative process, which allows general legislative goals to be proposed prior to committee vetting, pro-life advocates in the state are alarmed at the bill’s similarities to state-level attacks on free speech in California and Illinois—which are both being fought in court.
Sponsored by state senator Mae Flexer and six members of Connecticut’s lower house, Senate Bill 449 is presented as a protection against falsely advertising for healthcare services, which is already prohibited by the state’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Rather than protecting consumers—or in this case, clients facing unexpected pregnancies—pro-life advocates in the state are viewing the upcoming legislation as a push-back from Democratic lawmakers who lost three key seats in the state Senate during the 2016 election, leaving the state’s upper house tied with 18 Republicans and 18 Democrats.
That local loss, paired with promises from President Donald J. Trump’s administration and House Speaker Paul Ryan to redirect abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s $550 million annual income from taxpayers to federally qualified health centers, is making the abortion lobby panic in Connecticut, says Deacon David W. Reynolds of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference.
Tweet This: #Connecticut #prolife centers serve 8,500 women each year, add $3.5 million in FREE services.
“I think what happened here is they got stunned by the Republican dominance in the election,” Reynolds, who is also a founding board member of Two Hearts Pregnancy Care Center in Torrington, Conn., said. “I think [the bill] would have been much more obvious if they knew they were in full control. We’re prepared for it, and we’re going to fight back on it as we get more knowledge on it.
“This is part of their movement, is to slam down their competition.”
Reynolds pointed out that similar attempts by state and local governments to crack down on pregnancy centers by forcing them to post signage either declaring themselves to be non-medical providers or promoting abortion services have been defeated through the courts in New York City, Austin (TX), Baltimore (MD), Montgomery County (MD).
While none of the pregnancy centers in Connecticut receive government funding of any kind, the nonprofits served more than 8,500 women throughout 2015, contributing an estimated $3.5 million in material assistance, ultrasounds and parenting classes to community members at no cost to taxpayers.
Ellen Cavallo, director of Carolyn’s Place Pregnancy Care Center in Waterbury, said it was telling that while pro-abortion groups including NARAL and Planned Parenthood—which operates in 17 locations throughout the state—are opposing the options represented by pregnancy help, both groups have long opposed attempts at parental notification laws that would help protect minors from abortion and sex trafficking.
Planned Parenthood’s location in West Hartford gained notoriety in 2007 by aborting the child of a 15-year-old girl who was the victim of statutory rape, failing in its role as a mandatory reporter of sexual abuse.
“I think Planned Parenthood is afraid of being defunded, so I think in pro-choice states, they’re really going to push the envelope,” Cavallo said. “In Connecticut, they’re so pro-abortion it’s ridiculous, but obviously we’re doing something that’s bothering them, so that’s a good thing.”
As yet, no date is set for a committee hearing on the proposed bill.
Every year, Planned Parenthood physicians carry out well over 320,000 abortions, compared to just over 17,000 total reported prenatal care services—a number that has fallen over 44 percent since 2010.
Meanwhile, the abortion giant referred just over 2,000 of its patients to adoption agencies in 2014-15, the last year such statistics are available.
Meanwhile, it’s estimated that 9 out of 10 pregnant women who enter a Planned Parenthood ends her child’s life through abortion.
Those numbers are all helpful to keep handy in light of a truly mind-boggling video Planned Parenthood posted to its YouTube channel Jan 10, capturing a mother who had gone into one of its clinics for an abortion but ended up choosing life for her son.
The video, “A Grateful Mom – Adeline’s Story” is a celebration of the one who got away. The exception to the rule. The one pregnant woman out of 10 who enters a Planned Parenthood and comes out with both her life and her baby’s intact.
“I found out I was pregnant, and it was not planned,” Adeline says in the video. “The most pragmatic option was to get an abortion. I was actually quite conflicted. When I went in to see the actual physician, I was a wreck. She took a look at me and said, ‘Something tells me that today is not your day. Sleep on it and then reschedule.’”
It’s at this point in the video—which is only 30 seconds long—that audio from her son comes into the story, with the child calling out, “Momma.” He’s an adorable toddler, depicted walking around he and momma’s apartment before giving her a kiss.
It really is hard to beat the sight of an adorable child interacting with his momma when you know the rest of the story—here’s a scene that never would have happened if Adeline had gone through with Planned Parenthood’s most prolific “service.”
Here’s a scene Planned Parenthood charges anywhere from $600 to $3,300 per patient to deliberately prevent by poisoning and dismembering unborn children. (That’s before you add up the $540 million in annual taxpayer fees or the millions it rakes in for its “medical reimbursement” cottage industry exposed by the Center for Medical Progress in the summer of 2015.)
Tweet This: #PPAct tells inspiring story of mom who chose life. She's the one in 10 who got away. #ppsellsbabyparts
It’s a scene 2,600 pro-life pregnancy centers throughout the U.S. fight tooth-and-nail to make happen every day. A scene like this, mother and child, is a perfect picture of why we strive every day to make abortion—not children—unwanted and unthinkable. What's odd is to see Planned Parenthood rejoicing over a mom and baby who escaped its hangman's noose.
The video ends on a curious note, as well, when Adeline shares her gratitude for the unnamed doctor at an unidentified Planned Parenthood somewhere (presumably) in the U.S.
It’s a far cry from the common practice of pregnancy centers who celebrate moments like these and spread the specific stories far and wide, even to the offices of federal lawmakers, like the seven moms who will tell their stories in Washington, D.C. as part of Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress next week.
“I wish I knew her name, so I could thank her for the role that she played in making me a mother,” Adeline says.
Who is this doctor? A couple names we can cross off our list would be the wine-sipping Dr. Deborah Nucatola and the infamous Dr. Mary Gatter of “I want a Lamborghini” fame—two high-level Planned Parenthood doctors caught on video haggling over the price of baby body parts, illegally resold after abortions.
Where did this take place? Probably not at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains or Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, where the likes of Dr. Savita Ginde and Melissa Farrell are a little too preoccupied with harvesting “intact” fetal cadavers than they are working with their patients to prepare them for motherhood.
And what, pray tell, did Planned Parenthood do by way of follow up? Did they offer any baby items? Diapers? Wipes? Formula? (Scratch that last one, Planned Parenthood staffers sometimes confuse formula for hazardous materials.)
Any parenting classes? Referrals to community resources? It’s highly unlikely, to say the least, that Planned Parenthood offered Adeline any support of this kind—which is all available free of charge at any pregnancy help center you could point to on a map.
Thankfully, Adeline was the one (in 10) that got away from Planned Parenthood, along with her lovable son. Here’s to celebrating the one that got away. And here’s to praying for more.
At the heart of Puerto Rico’s abortion industry, pro-life leaders from five Caribbean nations gathered Jan. 11-13 for the region’s first-ever pregnancy help summit, pooling insight and preparing for a new season in the battle for lives.
Coordinated in partnership with Heartbeat International, the meeting took place in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, where Cree Women’s Center established its second pregnancy help center in 2016—just a mile away from three of the island’s seven abortion clinics.
Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Lucia and the Bahamas were all four represented by men and women dedicated to rescue both women and children from a growing abortion epidemic that has jumped by 50 percent in the region since the mid-1990s.
According to estimates by the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 4.4 million unborn children were aborted each year from 1990 to 1994 in Latin America and the Caribbean. That number increased to 6.5 million per year from 2010-14, prompting many pro-life Christians to respond by establishing pregnancy help centers and ultrasound-equipped medical clinics.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Rebekah Ali-Gouveia and her husband, Colin Gouveia, founded Elpis Centre in 2009 to provide life-affirming options, pro-life education and help with abortion recovery.
“This gathering helped to further knit the leaders in the Caribbean together; to refuel, reignite and anchor the matters we must commit to in the year ahead,” Ali-Gouveia, an attorney and Caribbean coordinator for World Congress of Families, said. “There was an overflow of love, trust, laughter and tears all of which converged into a weekend ripe with expectation and hope for our region.”
Three leaders from Heartbeat International—all who served in leadership roles at local pregnancy centers before joining the staff at the network’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio—participated in the summit, along with Sol Pichon, a long-time leader of a local network of Florida pregnancy help medical clinics.
In addition to its Annual Conference, which is expected to draw over 1,000 leaders to Chicago in its 46th year this April 19-21, Heartbeat International fosters similar regionally based pregnancy help efforts on every inhabited continent, including Europe, where the organization hosted leaders from 10 nations in October of 2016.
“There continues to be a great need for pregnancy help leaders to build strong relationships,” Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International said. “Heartbeat is privileged to serve as the unifying network for so many faithful and faith-filled champions in the Caribbean and around the globe.”
Tweet This: @HeartbeatIntl addressing global #abortion epidemic. #prolife
Rhonda Darville, founder and CEO of Bahamas GodParent Center in Nassau, launched that nation’s first stand-alone pregnancy center in 2015 and has since braved Hurricane Joaquin and Hurricane Matthew in successive years—with both storms doing significant damage to the surrounding areas but leaving the pregnancy center unharmed.
Abortion is currently illegal in the Bahamas, but along with an underground abortion industry and a reported 60 percent of children in the nation born to single mothers, a push to legalize abortion is several years in the making.
“It has been a privilege and a pleasure to meet with other leaders in the Caribbean, as we do the work that brings the gospel, strengthens families and hence our communities and our countries,” Darville wrote on Facebook. “The need is great, the resources are few, but we keep trusting in the Almighty. We know He is able and so we do not get weary in well doing."
Writing from his holding cell at the Birmingham City Jail in April of 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. identified for his fellow clergymen what he was finding most perplexing during his fight against racial discrimination.
Though imprisoned for his role in organizing peaceful protests throughout Birmingham, Ala., where Jim Crow laws still enabled businessmen throughout the city to refuse service to black customers, Dr. King didn’t find the laws he was demonstrating against, nor the police force that enforced them, to be all that baffling.
Indeed, this was where the fight was, and when King counted the cost of launching an organized nonviolent campaign, imprisonment was among the first checks he was willing to write.
It wasn’t the humiliating signs and name-calling, nor the avowed racism of the Ku Klux Klan that most bothered Dr. King. His biggest disappointment was in what he called “the white moderate.”
“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order; than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action,’” he wrote.
“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
Arrested April 12, Dr. King had reached a boiling point of sorts after a friend brought him a newspaper that included an op-ed co-signed by eight white Alabama pastors. Though they agreed with Dr. King in principle, they had written a letter publicly denouncing his methods of peaceful protest for which he was currently languishing in jail.
That was the spark that led Dr. King to respond in writing, pleading with his white fellow pastors to stand courageously with him in his respectful, yet determined path to see to it that all Americans be treated with equal dignity under the law.
Tweet This: It's our turn to stand for human dignity, whatever the cost. #prolife #MotivationMonday #MLKDay
But equality across racial lines was never going to happen as long as white church leaders remained silent, Dr. King argued. It was their time at bat, their turn to speak and to act in accordance with the truth of God’s Word—that He had created all men and women in His image, regardless of the color of their skin.
Such bold action was the heritage of the church, Dr. King reminded his fellow leaders. In past, the church had been “too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.” Yet, he lamented, “Things are different now.”
If the church were to fail to live up to its theology, Dr. King warned, it would “lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.”
Today, nearly 54 years after Dr. King wrote this letter, though the battle for racial equality has been largely won, the fight for racial harmony is still very much a work in process. As in Dr. King’s day, the larger society—whether they realize it or not—looks to the church to lead the way in racial reconciliation.
We have a transcendent message of a God who made us equally in His image (Gen. 1:27) and a Christ who has “broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph. 2:14) across racial and ethnic lines to make peace not only between God and man, but between man and man.
The good news we share is intended, ultimately, to magnify God’s infinite wisdom precisely by the uniting those who are racially, ethnically and culturally diverse under the common banner of faith in Christ. (Eph. 3:10, Rev. 7:9)
As Dr. King warned, should the church fail in her mission to speak God’s truth into crying needs of the day, we’ll leave a void that others will gladly fill through violence, bitterness and further division. As a society, we’re certainly seeing fruit of this in an ever-increasing hostility along racial lines throughout recent years, a point made clear by Dr. Mika Edmondson at The Gospel Coalition's 2016 conference.
It’s our duty and our delight, as the church, to call ourselves and our neighbors to what Dr. King labeled a “positive peace which is the presence of justice”. It’s our turn to strive toward a biblically formed, Spirit-empowered justice that only the good news of the Gospel can bring.
As fellow image-bearers of God, we’re simply not given the opportunity to remain silent or unengaged when our society assaults God’s image—whether through racism or in its more lethal forms such as gladiatorial contests, abortion, infanticide or euthanasia. All are assaults on God’s image-bearers and thus, assaults against God Himself. As such, the church has no right to be silent.
The question Dr. King posed to the white church 54 years ago rings just as urgent today: Will we act as a “thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion” or as a “thermostat that transformed the mores or society”?
Then and now, the choice is before us. Will we settle for "lukewarm acceptance" while our society assaults God's image-bearers, or are we "God-intoxicated" enough to be agents of change, no matter the cost?
Of all the words that come to mind when people hear about pregnancy centers—good, bad, fair or unfair—one term that won’t make most Top-10 lists is “house flipping.”
That’s about to change in one neighborhood of Tupelo, Miss., where Parkgate Pregnancy Clinic bought a home with the intent to renovate and resell it this spring, using the proceeds to continue serving their community.
The clinic, which served 7,000 individuals throughout 2016, got the idea from the speakers at their upcoming banquet, David and Jason Benham, whose HGTV show, “Flip it Forward” was canceled in 2014 due to opposition to their outspoken Christian convictions.
Nearly 30 organizations—most of them based in Tupelo—are pitching in to make the project a reality, including Eight Days of Hope, a Christian volunteer mobilizing ministry that typically spearheads rebuilding efforts in areas hit by disasters.
Parkgate has named the fundraising project, “Mess to Masterpiece,” which is a phrase that took root for Parkgate during a client visit. A young woman had come in with her mother for a free ultrasound to confirm her unexpected pregnancy. After having seen her 12-week old baby, the mother told her pregnant daughter, “God is going to turn this mess into a masterpiece.”
When the pieces started to fall into place for the rebuilding project, fundraising director Jessica Roy and her team decided that statement captured a vision not just for the project, but for the pregnancy center’s outreach to clients in the community.
“We thought this might be a good opportunity to give back to the community and engage the community,” Roy said in a video promoting the project. “We bring new life here. It’s what we do every day in the clinic.”
With the Benham Brothers coming to town for the center’s banquet February 21, they’re also listed as special consultants for the Mess to Masterpiece.
Also lined up to speak at Heartbeat International’s 2017 Annual Conference in Chicago this April 19-21, the Benham Brothers gained national attention after a decade of running their Charlotte, N.C.-based real estate business focused on buying and reselling foreclosed houses.
A court decision upholding California’s so-called “Reproductive FACT Act” could be on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, after Pacific Justice Institute filed a request for the court to review the 2015 state law.
First reported by One News Now, Pacific Justice Institute filed its motion Jan. 5, challenging a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that kept intact a state law requiring pro-life pregnancy help medical clinics in California to post signage notifying their patients where and how they can receive state taxpayer-funded abortions.
The law would apply to as many as 75 life-affirming pregnancy help medical clinics, and would also force at least another 75 pregnancy centers in the state that do not provide free ultrasound services to post signage declaring they are not medical facilities.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has a reputation as the most-reversed appellate court by the Supreme Court, and given past cases where similar disclosure laws targeting pregnancy centers have been thrown out—as well as the likely makeup of the Supreme Court in the incoming presidential administration—the “Reproductive FACT Act” looks like to be the 9th Circuit’s next casualty.
Passed on strictly party-line votes in both houses of the California legislature and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, pro-life opponents to the law argue that it violates deeply held religious convictions and tramples on First Amendment rights of both free exercise of religion and free speech by forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to speak a government message in favor of abortion—and providing a practical means for obtaining an abortion in their own facilities.
"They have a right to free speech but only if they say what the state wants them to say," Pacific Justice Institute’s Brad Dacus pointed out at One News Now.
Heartbeat International board members have argued against the legislation in publications such as the San Jose Mercury News and The Daily Signal, while former President Ronald Reagan’s son, Michael Reagan, along with James Dobson and others have also opposed the legislation as clear attacks on First Amendment freedoms of pregnancy centers.
Tweet This: #California law could be headed to #SCOTUS, after @PacificJustice challenge #prolife
Since the law took effect Jan. 2016, three pregnancy centers have had the law enforced against it—all three of which were under the jurisdiction of Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who leveraged an obscure business signage law against the nonprofits to force compliance in May of 2016.
Pacific Justice Institute represents three of the affected medical clinics throughout the state in a lawsuit, while the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) represents three more.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represents two clinics and a national affiliation group, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), argued the case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last October.
It is expected that all three challenges to the state’s law will be appealed to the Supreme Court over the first several weeks of 2017.
ADF and NIFLA, meanwhile, are also involved in a fight to protect the First Amendment rights of pro-life Illinois medical professionals that include staff and volunteers serving at pregnancy medical clinics.
Illinois gutted its Healthcare Right of Conscience Act in 2016, requiring pro-life medical professionals to refer women for abortions upon request through a legislative effort that took effect Jan. 1, 2017.
Though a judge granted their request for a preliminary injunction in state court in mid-December, ADF and NIFLA expect to file a preliminary injunction in federal court this February.
Big Abortion is in big trouble—worse every day, in fact.
Evidence is continuing to pile up as to the nauseating and dangerous conditions of abortion clinics around the country, reams of paper are needed to chronicle the illegal activities of Planned Parenthood and others, and a slew of legislation is in the works from states including Ohio and Kentucky to protect children from the predatory practice throughout their final weeks in the womb.
Meanwhile, LifeNews’ Micaiah Bilger reports that Planned Parenthood has closed five of its abortion mills since early November, while the nation’s most prolific abortion business is reeling in the wake of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s announcement that its $550 million taxpayer cut is very much on the chopping block during the upcoming legislative session.
As my friend Kirk Walden pointed out last week, $550 million is a lot of scratch to make up for, even considering the cost of free Hamilton tickets and hocked jewelry from the Golden Globes’ red carpet.
As such, all the king’s horses and all the king’s (wo)men are being summoned to try to put a positive spin on the organization that takes the lives of 330,000 preborn children every year.
Enter Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the largest abortion-lobbying group in the nation and famous celebrator of her past abortion.
Reacting to Rep. Ryan’s announcement that Planned Parenthood may soon need to up and—as Students for Life so eloquently puts it, “Go Fund Yourself”—Hogue sounded off to Sen. Ryan and other Republicans that, “Your hypocrisy is showing.”
“Make no mistake, this is about healthcare, this is about denying women healthcare but it’s about more than that,” Hogue continued. “It’s about disempowering women and taking away our agency to build healthy, thriving families which is good for everyone in this country.”
I’m sorry, Ms. Hogue, did you just say “disempowering women”? As in, abortion is empowerment? More to the point, as in forcing your pro-life neighbors (let’s say 50 percent or so who are women) to pay for what we clearly understand to be the unjust taking of a human life at $550 million a year?
No, no I wouldn’t say so. Let’s talk about what empowerment looks like for a moment, shall we?
Tweet This: Let's talk a minute about empowerment, shall we? #WhyWeMarch #DefundPP #prolife
Magalia found out she was pregnant when she was in her early ‘20s and working on her college education. It clearly wasn’t the time she had in mind to start a family, and she was terrified about her prospects with school, her relationship with her boyfriend and even what her mom would say.
Though she had visited a life-affirming pregnancy center and seen her baby via ultrasound, Magalia was still too crippled with fear, guilt and shame to do anything other than hide. The best way to do that, it seemed, was through abortion, so she went to an abortion clinic in Kettering, Ohio, near Dayton.
The clinic, which was shut down late this December because it failed to comply with a state law requiring a hospital transfer agreement, set Magalia’s appointment for an abortion and gladly took her $200 for a down-payment.
That’s when Magalia asked a question that’s really just started to hit the mainstream since David Daleiden and the heroes at the Center for Medical Progress began exposing the abortion industry’s black market of baby body parts in 2015. (As a side note, Daleiden wasn’t the first, but his effort has been the most successful to date.)
Magalia’s question: “What do you do with the babies after the procedure?”
The response from the abortion clinic’s staff shocked Magalia and, together with that look at her baby through a pregnancy center’s ultrasound, ended up changing her life—and saving her baby’s—forever.
“We throw the fetus in the trash,” the abortion clinic's staff told her. That's when Magalia changed her mind forever.
Today, because Magalia found the help she needed at Elizabeth’s New Life Center in Dayton, Ohio, she’s the mother of a beautiful young girl, Ayreon. Magalia is a strong, single mother and she knows the day-to-day joy of watching her baby grow.
This January 26, Magalia will have the chance—along with six other moms—to share her story of how she embraced motherhood with her elected lawmakers on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. with Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress.
Just a few years ago, Magalia was a single decision away from ending her child’s life through abortion. Now, because she found the help she needed, she’ll be sitting knee-to-knee with her congressmen and senators in the nation’s capitol, telling the story of what changed her world.
Now that, Ms. Hogue, is empowerment.