The last few months have been highly contentious as we face multiple crises in the United States. During the month of June in particular, racial inequality has been a huge topic of conversation. While many organizations took advantage of the controversial nature of the topic of racism in America to make a statement one way or the other, or to get press coverage and/or motivate their base audiences for action, I have been asked why Heartbeat International did not say more.
Allow me to suggest two reasons; 1) Our mission is to make abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations, and 2) Our statement has been made in actions over the last 50 years.
Over the last 50 years, Heartbeat has worked tirelessly to provide the best training and resources for effective pregnancy help around the world. The pregnancy help movement saw the need for alternatives to abortion even before the historic Roe v. Wade decision, and we have been providing them ever since.
Unfortunately, society still finds reasons to insist women need abortions. Because her child will be disabled. Because she hasn’t completed her education. Because her career is in jeopardy. Because she will be raising a child alone.
And yet, pregnancy help provides the answers to these dilemmas. Support, empowerment, hope.
Instead of finding reasons that giving birth to a child will be a problem, Heartbeat believes that no woman should ever feel so alone, coerced, or hopeless that she chooses to end her child’s life through abortion.
That’s why we have answered over 3 million cries for help at Option Line, connecting women to local support through affiliated life-affirming organizations. That’s why we facilitate scholarships for mothers seeking to continue their educations and raise their children. That’s why we train thousands of pregnancy help staff and volunteers to communicate effectively, lovingly, and truthfully with clients.
We are making abortion unnecessary, unwanted, and unthinkable.
The key parts of this mission are accomplished with Heartbeat’s Worldwide Directory of Pregnancy Help, its 24/7 bilingual call center for women experiencing unexpected pregnancies, the annual conference which shares ideas and programs for effective care for women and their children, its trainings for pregnancy help leaders in-person (and on-line) around the world, Heartbeat’s newsletters educating the pregnancy help movement and the public, and its library of training materials from print manuals to webinars to podcasts.
This is what we do, and when we do it well. Lives are saved and changed. There is no taking your eye off the prize when lives are at stake.
Let me be clear: no person should be judged unworthy of life, dignity, or respect on the basis of skin color. We would never say otherwise, and we show where we stand with what we do.
Actions speak louder than words
How can you tell that Heartbeat, and in fact the pregnancy help movement, cares about black lives? Look at what we do.
Tweet This: How can you tell that Heartbeat, and in fact the pregnancy help movement, cares about black lives? Look at what we do.
When we talk about the problems facing African Americans systemically, we talk about things that disproportionately affect them compared to others in the country. For example, African Americans are disproportionately affected by poverty, fatherlessness in the home, high maternal and infant mortality rates, and, believe it or not, abortion.
There are many reasons for this, and no single article can address them all, but suffice it to say, the statistics paint a very frustrating picture. More hurdles exist in education, housing, job security, healthcare, and more for those in poverty. African Americans and other minorities have not always been afforded the same tools to escape poverty.
The pregnancy help answer for lives in need? Material assistance here and now and support going forward through parenting classes and maternity homes that prepare mothers for self-sufficiency, sexual risk avoidance education, free medical services, support and referrals to other community resources, and more.
Yes, that’s right. Pregnancy centers help mothers provide for themselves and their babies, and it goes far beyond a pack of diapers. Pregnancy centers can and do offer more than essential baby items like diapers, clothes, cribs, strollers, and car seats. Women with nowhere else to turn have received food and rent assistance so they didn’t have to worry about where their next meal was coming from or whether they would be able to stay in their homes.
Maternity homes take in mothers who have nowhere to live, and from the moment they step through the door as residents, they are taught the life skills they need to be successful when they move out. The life skills, job training, and education on community resources is an essential part of the support offered to mothers staying in a maternity home because we want to empower them to stand on their own two feet.
Fatherhood programs and men’s ministries save lives too, as women are far more likely to be willing to raise a child if the father is involved. And why not? When two parents take an active role in a child’s life, the child is far more likely to succeed. In fact, it’s why pregnancy centers teach sexual risk avoidance in classrooms as a key part of the mission as well. When individuals follow the “success sequence” (graduate, work full-time, get married before having kids), their chances of living under the poverty line drop to just 3 percent.
To address maternal and infant mortality rates, pregnancy help offers medical services as early in pregnancy as possible – for free. Often, a pregnancy help medical clinic is where a woman confirms for the first time that she is pregnant. A free ultrasound can provide a proof of pregnancy that allows her to get quicker medical care. In addition, while it can be overwhelming to jump the hurdles of providers and insurance for many issues, a medical clinic may offer STD/STI testing and treatment, prenatal care, or simply help in finding the care she needs from a doctor or medical professional.
While the disproportionate impact of poverty, fatherlessness, maternal and infant mortality rates on the African American community is well-known, the death toll in the community from abortion may be new information for some.
Consider this: African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population. Shockingly, 28 percent of all abortion procedures in the year 2014 in the United States were performed on black women - 28 percent. If abortion affected all races equally, that number would look more like 13 percent. Why would that number be so dramatically different? It could certainly be tied to poverty - but it is also undeniable that abortion facilities disproportionately place themselves in urban areas, where minority populations are higher. Even assuming the best intentions of the providers, this should be troubling for anyone concerned about black lives.
How it all fits together
If any question remains about the stance of Heartbeat International, or the pregnancy help movement at large, I encourage you to consider this history.
Over the last 50 years, we have worked hard, day in and day out, to make sure that every mother has the compassion and support she needs to make a choice that leaves her empowered rather than defeated. We have helped establish pregnancy centers in underserved areas, educated volunteers and staff on breaking cycles of poverty so mothers can provide for their children, and made it possible for women and families to find the necessary local resources to thrive throughout their pregnancies and beyond.
That’s our statement on race every day.
With the issues we are hearing about right now, we defer to the experts.
Heartbeat International does what it does best when it simply works as it does every day to fulfill its mission - fighting to save lives from abortion and transforming families.
It’s what we’re good at because it’s what we’ve been doing for 50 years.
But don’t just take it from me.
Ask Mary or Sharae, or Wisdom - or any other countless individuals whose lives have been lifted up through pregnancy help in that half-century. They can tell you how pregnancy help changed their lives, and saved their children, so we can all have a better tomorrow.
Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.