Heartbeat International's Worldwide Directory of Pregnancy Help has surpassed 7,000 listings, boosting the celebration of the pregnancy help network’s half-century of service.
Heartbeat is the first network of pro-life pregnancy resource centers founded in the U.S. and it the most extensive network in the world, with more than 2,900 affiliated pregnancy help locations in more than 60 countries around the world working to provide alternatives to abortion.
Heartbeat’s Worldwide Directory, an online directory of life affirming service providers around the world, is the leading comprehensive list of pregnancy help organizations (PHOs). Heartbeat is observing its 50th anniversary this year.
Heartbeat International publishes the Worldwide Directory each year to be the most complete list of life-affirming pregnancy help, including provider locations across the globe whether Heartbeat affiliates or not, to connect those looking for help with those who provide help. Heartbeat has identified life-affirming programs in more than half of the countries of the world.
PHOs use the directory to refer clients for help outside their own service area when needed or for specific help that they do not provide themselves (such as housing). They also use it to connect with other pregnancy help organizations for networking.
Heartbeat International’s 24/7 pro-life contact center Option Line uses the Worldwide Directory for referrals to centers outside the U.S. and Canada when requests for help are received through the Option Line website.
The directory has its origins with Heartbeat’s founding and its value as a means of connecting PHOs has been a component in the pregnancy help movement’s progress over 50 years. Heartbeat affiliates receive a complimentary print copy of the annually updated pregnancy help ministry reference.
Heartbeat Board Chair and former President Peggy Hartshorn commented on the critical nature of the Worldwide Directory in enable pregnancy help personnel to help save lives.
"It is crucial for our pro-life mission that we find and make known every service provider anywhere in the world that offers life-affirming pregnancy help-- so every woman can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby and never conclude that abortion is her only alternative," Hartshorn told Pregnancy Help News. "Heartbeat's founders, who published the first Directory in 1972, were really visionaries who saw that a Directory of service locations was a key part of the essential safety-net needed once abortion was unleashed on both women and children."
The inaugural directory consisted of nearly 200 entries. The number of PHO listings in directory had topped 7,000 by a press time July 16.
“Hitting 7,000 entries in the Worldwide Directory is a great milestone in our 50th anniversary year,” said Andrea Trudden, senior director of Communications & Marketing for Heartbeat International.
Heartbeat President Jor-El Godsey remarked on the organization’s founders’ foresight in recognizing the need for a comprehensive director of pregnancy help.
"Heartbeat's founders saw the missional need for a comprehensive list of pregnancy help,” Godsey said. “That goal was reached, and continues to be fulfilled, with the Worldwide Directory. The directory is a tool to connect those looking for help, and those looking to help, with local pregnancy help service providers."
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Heartbeat International’s founders had a worldwide vision of the pregnancy help movement back at the pregnancy help network’s beginning. Co-founder Lore Maier wrote hundreds of letters to contacts around the world as the first executive director, in the process sharing this vision of a connected movement.
She and co-founder Dr. John Hillabrand traveled widely at personal expense inviting others to start pregnancy help centers in their own countries and become part of the federation of Alternatives to Abortion International (AAI - now Heartbeat International).
It became a priority for AAI to keep track of all the emerging service centers, whether or not they officially became affiliates.
This 2021 Worldwide Directory contains more than four thousand entries for the U.S. This includes traditional pregnancy centers and medical clinics, maternity support organizations, medical service providers, maternity homes and other residential programs, professional social service agencies, nonprofit adoption agencies, and abortion recovery programs. The Worldwide Directory also has 2,849 service locations in 113 other countries.
Heartbeat International Vice President of Ministry Services Betty McDowell reflected on one of the ways she has seen the Worldwide Directory utilized.
“It is such a joy to me when I hear from a pregnancy help organization leader who tells me how they used the Worldwide Directory to find a pregnancy help organization to visit while on vacation or a mission trip,” McDowell said.
Pregnancy help organization leaders have special understanding of each other as they share life-affirming camaraderie in their mission, she added.
“Pregnancy help people love to connect with their co-laborers to encourage, be encouraged and learn from each other,” McDowell said.
Editor’s note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News. This article has been updated to include additional comment.