Heartbeat International

Heartbeat International is a Christian network of anti-abortion centers that seeks to eliminate abortion entirely. Heartbeat International was one of the first anti-abortion center networks in the U.S. and is now one of the world’s largest, with nearly 3,000 affiliates spreading anti-abortion misinformation across all six inhabited continents.


Summary Extremism Key Players And Related Groups Influence

Summary

Heartbeat International is a Christian network of anti-abortion centers (AACs) based out of Columbus, Ohio. The network was founded in 1971 by Dr. John Hillabrand and Lore Maier as “Alternatives to Abortion,” the same name a number of states now use for their taxpayer-funded anti-abortion programs. The organization soon expanded to become “Alternatives to Abortion International” and in 1993, became Heartbeat International, “an umbrella nonprofit that offers pregnancy centers behind-the-scenes support like legal education and staff training in exchange for membership dues.” Through this work, Heartbeat International’s goal is to “make abortion unwanted today and unthinkable for future generations” or put more plainly, to eliminate abortion entirely worldwide.

Toward that end, Heartbeat International’s network consists of nearly 3,000 AACs across 68 countries on six continents; the United States, Italy, Mexico, South Africa, and Canada host the most affiliate locations, in that order. In a concerning show of influence, Heartbeat International claims that its affiliates account for 42 percent of AACs worldwide.

Heartbeat International acts as a fundraising organization that then disburses funds to these service providers and also provides them with support in the forms of trainings, legal advice, and organizational development. These trainings and educational materials are full of misinformation, flat-out lies, and offensive comments about abortions and people who seek abortion care. Some examples include egregious and discredited claims of links between abortion and breast cancer or physical abuse and lies about the legality of abortion and the process of obtaining one. Heartbeat International doubled down on this trend in 2018, when it took over the Abortion Pill Rescue Network (APRN), a network of providers spreading misinformation about so-called “abortion pill reversal.” The APRN has doubled in size since Heartbeat International took over its management.

What originally began as a secular anti-abortion endeavor became explicitly Christian as the organization grew in influence. Today, it seems that Heartbeat International is more interested in spreading an evangelical Christian message than actually providing pregnant people with any type of health care that they need. Its mission is filled with Christian Bible verses, and its staff and volunteers have been known to frame their anti-abortion counseling in the context of a conversion to or an affirmation of Christianity. Heartbeat International’s extreme views have manifested as homophobia, and the organization has run entire campaigns rooted on racist assumptions about Latinas and Black women.

Extremism

Heartbeat International Spreads Abortion Misinformation To Coerce Pregnant People To Carry Their Pregnancies To Full Term

Heartbeat International Regularly Promotes Inaccurate And Discredited Claims About The “Risks” Of Abortion. “Beyond the religious messaging, at least 10 [Heartbeat International] conference sessions focused on the ‘risks’ of premarital sex, contraception, and abortion. During the panel ‘What’s So Bad About Abortion?’ Janet Morana and Father Frank Pavone, of the organization Priests for Life, asserted that abortion causes an array of spiritual, psychological, and medical problems. Pavone said, ‘Abortion poisons everything,’ because after an abortion, a woman thinks, ‘Others can’t possibly esteem me, child-killer that I am.’ Those women, he said, suffer a ‘failure to bond’ with future children, often thinking, ‘I killed one child; I’m afraid that something bad will happen to the next one.’ He and other speakers in the session said abortion increases a woman’s risk of miscarriage, cancer, substance abuse, suicide, and domestic violence, among other problems.” [Cosmopolitan, 4/6/15]

Heartbeat International Intentionally Uses Made-Up “Risk” As A Scare Tactic. “The importance of framing abortion and contraception through ‘risks’ also came up in the talk given by Bri Laycock, the director of Option Line. In her session, ‘Answering the Hard Calls and Tough Questions,’ Laycock recommended that staff answer callers’ questions about medical and surgical abortions by saying, ‘Both options can pose risks to your health,’ without saying the center is against abortion. She recommended pregnancy center staff present select medical information and disclaimers from the fine print on pharmaceutical packaging to present using contraception as a high-risk gamble. When callers ask about emergency contraception, for example, even if there might be an opportunity to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, Laycock said staff can just say it’s ‘not 100 percent effective.’ She recommended telling callers, ‘You might not be at a fertile time in your cycle, and it’s not worth taking hormones for no reason.’” [Cosmopolitan, 4/6/15]

Heartbeat International Affiliates Offer Information That Is Full Of Discredited Claims About Links Between Abortion And A Number Of Medical Conditions. “The information contained within the materials Hartford Women’s Center [, which is a Heartbeat International affiliate,] presents to its visitors is overwhelming: rows and rows of text, often studiously annotated. It’s also extremely inaccurate. Many of the pamphlets tout a wholly debunked link between abortion and breast cancer or infertility; others warn of something called “post-abortion syndrome,” a term neither the American Psychiatric Organization nor the American Psychological Organization recognizes. Numerous insist that birth control pills can cause early abortion, a claim that has no backing in established medical science. … Reason Six ‘I was raped,’ puts ending a pregnancy on par with sexual assault: ‘Adding another violent act, abortion, to the horrible thing that has already happened to you will only complicate your healing process,’ it reads. ‘Don’t allow the rapist to add to your emotional turmoil by causing you to end the life of an innocent child.’” [Vice News, 5/30/17]

Heartbeat International Spreads Lies Globally About Cancer, Child Abuse, And Abortion Legality In Order To Discourage Abortion. “In Italy, an undercover reporter was told not only that having an abortion can cause cancer, but that having a baby can cure serious illnesses including [leukemia]. In Spain, another reporter was given an article that claimed that after an abortion a woman is ‘144% more likely’ to physically abuse their children. In Mexico City, staff at one [center] wrongly said that a woman needs her partner’s or a relative’s consent for an abortion — and that no hospital would treat her for serious complications. In Argentina, a reporter who said she was a survivor of domestic abuse was told by staff at another [center]: ‘Now, you’re a victim, but getting an abortion would make you part of the violence.’” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

Heartbeat International Published The First “Study” On The Fake “Post-Abortion Syndrome.” “Sister Paula [Vandegaer, a founder and former Board Member of Heartbeat International] also noted that it was the faith-based counselors working in our movement who were the first to diagnose (and later name) what is now known widely as ‘post-abortion syndrome’ (PAS). The magazine of our organization called Heartbeat, published by Sister Paula from our West Coast office in Los Angeles, published the first research on postabortion syndrome, including how to recognize it and offer help.” [Heartbeat International, Accessed 7/8/21]

Heartbeat International Trainings Suggest Exploiting Pregnant People By Gaining Their Trust Only To Intentionally Lie To Them About Abortion. “The first thing to do, she explained, is offer a woman considering an abortion a pregnancy test and an ultrasound. Then, you can warn her against making a decision ‘too quickly.’ The trainer [re-emphasizes] this advice later, saying: ‘Get the caller to slow down and really think … Build a relationship with her and gain her trust.’ She then asks her hypothetical caller (who we never hear from) if she knows about possible physical complications—and makes several confusing statements, such as: ‘Statistically most abortions do not cause physical injury. However, statistically the chances of your getting pregnant might not have been great either.’” [openDemocracy, 2/17/20]

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In Addition To Its Anti-Abortion Misinformation, Heartbeat International Spreads Racism And Homophobia

Heartbeat International Targeted Latinas And Black Women In An Anti-Abortion Campaign In Miami. “Heartbeat International, too, launched a campaign to target women of color. In 2007, having identified Miami as a city with the ‘neediest neighborhoods,’ it rolled out a project to pursue women of color purposefully and aggressively. Heartbeat Miami’s website stated that ‘the pregnancy center movement must become a true urban movement. And to do that, it must be mainstreamed into Black and Latino churches in the cities.’ Describing its CPC operators as ‘virtue capitalists,’ the website, complete with a demographic map with neighborhoods with high concentrations of Latinas, outlined the campaign ‘to develop a life-support network of ultrasound-equipped pregnancy centers strategically located in high abortion-marketed neighborhoods, staffed and supported by the Greater Miami Christian community.’ It boasted, ‘this highly aggressive, heavily funded approach to starting multiple centers has never been done before.’ In the past year, Heartbeat Miami apparently learned that its targeted language was inflammatory and removed it from its website.” [NARAL Pro-Choice America, 12/6/16]

Heartbeat International Uses Coded Racist Language When Describing Their Targeted Campaigns. “In a Heartbeat International video, a CPC activist described its ‘mobile center,’ a vehicle that allows anti-choice volunteers to position themselves directly outside abortion providers in the city. She says, ‘We’re going straight to the ‘hood, straight into urban areas … to reach more abortion-minded and -vulnerable clients.’” [NARAL Pro-Choice America, 12/6/16]

Homophobia Is Enshrined In Heartbeat International’s Official Guiding Policies. “Heartbeat International does promote God’s Plan for our sexuality: marriage between one man and one woman, sexual intimacy, children, unconditional/unselfish love, and relationship with God must go together. Heartbeat International does promote sexual integrity/sexual purity before marriage and sexual integrity faithfulness within marriage.” [Heartbeat International, 2021]

Heartbeat International Trainings Claim That Abortion Can “Turn” One’s Partner Gay. “Other claims [made in a Heartbeat International training webinar] were more original. For example: After a woman has an abortion, the trainer said, her partner can ‘experience homosexuality.’ It’s not clear in the webinar where she got this from.” [openDemocracy, 2/17/20]

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Heartbeat International Is An Explicitly Christian Organization That Seems To Prioritize Evangelism Over Pregnancy Care

Heartbeat International Affiliates Use Deceptive Marketing Tactics To Lure Pregnant People Into Their Clinics Where They Receive Messages About “Jesus’s Plan.” “[Pregnancy Center Counselor Laurie Steinfeld’s] talk focused on how to help women seeking abortions understand Jesus’s plan for them and their babies, and she described how her center’s signage attracts women. ‘Right across the street from us is Planned Parenthood,’ she said. ‘We’re across the street and it [their sign] says ‘Pregnancy Counseling Center’ and think, Oh, that’s it! So some of them coming in thinking they’re going to their abortion appointments.’” [Comsopolitan 4/6/15]

Heartbeat International Staff And Volunteers View Christian Evangelism And Conversion As A Priority Of Their Work. “In her workshop, ‘How to Reach and Inspire the Heart of a Client,’ Steinfeld told her audience about her mission to convert clients: ‘If you hear nothing today, I want you to hear this one thing,’ she said. ‘We might be the very first face of Christ that these girls ever see.’” [Comsopolitan 4/6/15]

Conversion To Christianity Is Integral To Heartbeat International’s Approach To Anti-Abortion Counseling. “Another oft-repeated catchphrase was, ‘Save the mother, save the baby,’ shorthand for many pregnancy center workers’ belief that the most effective way to prevent abortion is to convert women. In keeping with Evangelicalism’s central tenets, many pregnancy center staff believe that those living ‘without Christ’—including Christians having premarital sex—must accept Christ to be born again, redeem their sins, and escape spiritual pain. Carrying a pregnancy to term ‘redeems’ a ‘broken’ woman, multiple staff people told me.” [Comsopolitan 4/6/15]

Heartbeat International Staff Pride Themselves On Proselytizing To Minors And Using Manipulative Tactics Rather Than Providing Proper And Accurate Care. “In her talk, Steinfeld explained how she tells girls who are ‘14, 15, 16 years old,’ that ‘He wove us together in our mother’s womb.’ Yet she encouraged her audience to think carefully about the words they use when talking to clients. ‘Notice that I haven’t mentioned abortion,’ she said at one point in her talk, after detailing how she tries to make the girls feel comfortable by listening to their fears and talking about God’s unconditional love, even for ‘the adulterous woman.’ ‘We’re just starting to build up knowing who she is in Christ, just laying the groundwork. Once she believes He had a plan for her life, then she would also have to believe He has a plan for her baby’s life,’ Steinfeld explained. … She emphasized gentleness: ‘We try to forget the ones that make us feel shame, but we all remember the ones that gave us love. We’re guiding her on that road to do the next right thing. About then is when we usually do the ultrasound.’” [Comsopolitan 4/6/15]

Heartbeat International Staff And Volunteers Refer To Their Clinics As “Ministries.” “The belief that a personal God commands faithful Christians to save others from Satan’s fallen world pervaded the Heartbeat conference. Attendees referred to their centers as ‘ministries.’ In the ballroom, a doctor said he’d performed abortions until he heard the prayers of all the souls of the babies he’d killed. During prayer sessions, hundreds of women raised their arms together in song. Kirk Walden, an anti-abortion fundraiser, repented, saying he’d previously underestimated pregnancy centers as just ‘nice work doing nice things.’ During his morning keynote, he shouted across the ballroom that pregnancy centers are, in fact, ‘the key God is using to build the wall of hope to make abortion obsolete in this country and around the world.’” [Comsopolitan 4/6/15]

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Heartbeat International Staff And Volunteers Talk About People Who Need Abortion Care In Offensive, Infantilizing Ways

Heartbeat International Volunteers Have Equated People Seeking Abortions To Children. “Over the course of the three days of the conference, I chatted with a few dozen pregnancy center workers. Multiple women told me it was their job to protect women from abortion as ‘an adult tells a child not to touch a hot stove.’” [Cosmopolitan, 4/6/15]

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Heartbeat International’s Structure And Operations Promote A Culture Of Deception

Heartbeat International Teaches Hotline Operators To Intentionally “Discourage Or Delay” Abortion In An Attempt To Push Pregnant People Past Legal Gestational Limits For Abortion. “It is not clear what training specific grantees or affiliates have received. However, materials from one of Heartbeat’s online webinars, ‘developed from the experience of Heartbeat affiliates,’ show how it teaches hotline operators to discourage or delay women from accessing abortions and emergency contraception.” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

Heartbeat International Trainings Suggest Deceptive Methods To Delay Pregnant People Past Emergency Contraception Windows. “If a woman asks about emergency contraception the trainer [at the Heartbeat International conference] also suggests a pregnancy test to ‘let you know if you might have conceived more than 7-10 days ago.’ However, she also notes that you have to take emergency contraception within 72-120 (3-5 days) hours of intercourse. If someone followed her advice, and waited to take a pregnancy test, they would miss their chance to take emergency contraception.” [openDemocracy, 2/17/20]

Heartbeat International Promotes A Deceptive Tactic, Encouraging Each Provider To Operate Two Websites: One To Secure Donors And One To Confuse Pregnant People. “In her session, ‘Do I Really Need Two Sites?’ [former Heartbeat International media specialist, Lauren] Chenoweth, explained that, yes, in fact, pregnancy centers do. She recommended that centers operate one that describes an anti-abortion mission to secure donors and another that lists medical information to attract women seeking contraception, counseling, or abortion. An audience member offered that her center swapped out an anti-abortion seeming name for Pregnancy Options. ‘That is an excellent point,’ Chenoweth replied. ‘Use a more attractive name to someone who is seeking services.’” [Comsopolitan 4/6/15]

Heartbeat International Doesn’t Even Follow Its Own Guidance On Distinguishing Medical Care From Counseling. “Inside some of these crisis pregnancy [centers], including those in Costa Rica and Mexico, staff offered reporters ultrasounds as part of ‘counselling’ sessions focused on dissuading them from accessing abortions. … This also appears to be in breach of Heartbeat’s own guidance on ultrasounds, which says that a [center] that wants to offer these services must ‘become a medical clinic’, with a licensed medical director, insurance and a trained technician.” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

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Heartbeat International Operates Option Line, One Of The Largest Anti-Abortion Hotlines

Heartbeat International Pioneered One Of The First Anti-Abortion Hotlines. “Sister Paula [Vandegaer, a founder and former Board Member of Heartbeat International] also founded one of the very first hotlines of any kind! Hotlines were a new concept for crisis intervention in the early 1970s. She wrote the first counseling manual and materials ever used specifically for helping women with unplanned pregnancies, thus launching a new, specialized field for counseling and social work.” [Heartbeat International, Accessed 7/8/21]

In 2003, Heartbeat International Formalized This Operation Under The Name, Option Line. “Established in 2003, Option Line is the only fully staffed, bilingual pro-life contact center in the U.S.” [Heartbeat International, Accessed 7/14/21]

  • Option Line Is A Joint Venture With AAC Network Care Net. “One of the most potent tools that CPCs have at their disposal is the Option Line, a joint venture between Care Net and Heartbeat International that operates as a 24-hour call center and web tool that transfers or refers women to the nearest CPC. During its first month in operation, the Option Line received approximately 2,000 calls and since then has added instant messaging and email capabilities to its arsenal. Its operators boast that the service answers more than 600 contacts a day and Option Line claims more than two million contacts since 2003. Further, a web search revealed that many CPCs listed by Option Line advertised under headings that could lead women to believe that they provide the full range of reproductive-health services, including abortion care and contraception.” [NARAL Pro-Choice America, 12/6/16]

Option Line Pretends To Present Options For Pregnancy Care But Actually Funnels Pregnant People To Anti-Abortion Counselors. “Option Line is rife with misinformation about abortion and contraception, though it has the appearance of a legitimate medical service, at least aesthetically. (Its logo suspiciously resembles that of Plan B, the emergency contraceptive pill.) On every single informational page, visitors are referred to [Heartbeat International]-affiliated crisis pregnancy centers in their area, though the true goal of these centers is only vaguely alluded to, often after a wall of official-seeming medical platitudes. ‘These centers don’t perform of refer for abortions, but they have a lot of information about all your options,’ reads a cheery disclaimer at the bottom of a page entitled ‘Considering Abortion.’ ‘Many of them are even able to give you a free ultrasound.’” [Vice News, 5/30/17]

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Heartbeat International Runs The Abortion Pill Rescue Network, Which Spreads Lies Internationally About “Reversing” Medical Abortion

Heartbeat International Took Over Management Of The APRN In 2018. “The Abortion Pill Rescue Network (APRN) is made up of approximately 1,000 rescue providers and centers worldwide who facilitate abortion pill reversal. Heartbeat International took over management of the Network in 2018.” [Pregnancy Help News, 1/18/21]

The APRN Is A 24-Hour Anti-Abortion Hotline Intent On Spreading Misinformation About So-Called “Abortion Pill Reversal” Worldwide. “[The APRN] is run by the US anti-abortion group Heartbeat International. It operates a 24-hour hotline and online chat service that connects women to providers of [“abortion pill reversal”] across the US and internationally. [Dr. George] Delgado has said the goal of this network is the ‘saturation of the world’ with ‘other regions in the world developing their own networks, like Europe and Latin America.” [openDemocracy, 5/27/21]

Heartbeat International And The APRN Claim The Efficacy And Safety Of So-Called “Abortion Pill Reversal” Despite Any Governing Medical Body Approving The Process. “Heartbeat International claims that [“Abortion Pill Reversal” (APR)] is a ‘time-tested, FDA approved treatment, that’s been used for decades to treat women at risk for early pregnancy loss and preterm delivery.’ This is misleading. Progesterone is approved for use to prevent early pregnancy loss and preterm deliveries. However, neither the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor any other medical authorities in the countries covered in our investigation have approved or recommended the APR protocol.” [openDemocracy, 5/27/21]

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Influence

Heartbeat International Has A Massive Global Operation Across Every Continent

Heartbeat International — One Of The First AAC Networks In The U.S. — Is Now A Network Of Over 2,800 AACs Across All Six Inhabited Continents. “Heartbeat International is the first network of pro-life pregnancy resource centers in the U.S. and the largest and most expansive in the world. Since 1971, Heartbeat has supported, strengthened and started pregnancy help organizations, including pregnancy medical clinics, pregnancy resources centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies all over the world. Currently, Heartbeat serves over 2,800 affiliate locations on all six inhabited continents to provide alternatives to abortion.” [Heartbeat International, 2021]

Outside Of The U.S., Heartbeat International Has The Most Affiliates In Italy — Over 400. “Outside the US, openDemocracy found the most Heartbeat affiliates in Italy: more than 400, including dozens active inside public hospitals and women’s shelters.” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

Heartbeat International Has Given Significant Funding To Centros de Ayuda para la Mujer and Africa Cares for Life. “Heartbeat has also given tens of thousands of dollars to the regional Centros de Ayuda para la Mujer (CAM) network that is also supported by Human Life International, and more than $200,000 to the Africa Cares for Life network in South Africa.” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

Heartbeat International Has Spent Almost $1 Million Around The World Since 2007. “It has also spent almost $1 million around the world since 2007, including grants to more than a dozen specific anti-abortion groups and networks, according to openDemocracy’s analysis of its financial filings.” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

The APRN Operates In At Least A Dozen Countries Across Europe, North America, South America, And Africa. “Our investigation revealed that APRN has linked up with doctors in at least a dozen countries on four continents—Europe, North America (including Canada), South America and Africa—to give women APR ‘treatment.’ APRN hotline operators will also email women dosage instructions if they can’t make a connection with a doctor.” [openDemocracy, 5/27/21]

The APRN Is Well-Established In Russia, Where It Is In Its Fifth Year Of Operation. “Russia’s growing Abortion Pill Rescue Network, overseen by Dr. Alexey Alexandrovich Fokin of St. Petersburg, is well into its fifth year of helping women reverse the chemical abortions they began but soon regretted. In multiple regions of Russia, three physicians and several registered nurses have joined the network.” [Pregnancy Help News, 7/12/21]

The APRN Is Well-Established In The United Kingdom And Continues To Grow Its Influence In New Countries Each Year. “This year, an openDemocracy investigation revealed that doctors around the world, connected to the US Christian Right group Heartbeat International, are prescribing this ‘treatment’ to women—under the radar of medical regulators and health authorities. In some countries such as the UK it appears to be more widespread; in others, it seems to be taking root now.” [openDemocracy, 5/27/21]

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Similar To Other AAC Networks, Heartbeat International Manipulates Search Engine Optimization (SEO) And Has Exported The Tactic — Along With Other Forms of Deception — Abroad

Heartbeat International Has Been Manipulating SEO Since At Least 2014. “The organization is experienced in using Google’s AdWords program to boost their visibility, especially in conjunction with abortion-related searches—in their 2014 annual report, HBI boasted that ‘a woman who makes a Google search such as ‘pregnant and scared’ finds a local Heartbeat International affiliate or Option Line in her search.’” [Vice News, 5/30/17]

Conferences Sponsored By Heartbeat International Seek To Disseminate SEO And Other Deceptive Tactics Across AACs. “And at the Heartbeat conference, speakers and vendors made it clear that attracting ‘abortion-minded’ clients through technology and other marketing practices was a priority—and that it was sometimes helpful to downplay their anti-abortion mission. In an exhibition hall crammed with booths offering medical malpractice insurance and pregnancy tests wrapped in blue and pink felt storks, several booths offered tech services that help centers appear in Internet searches for terms like ‘abortion.’ They’re going to Google ‘abortion’ or they’re going to Google ‘abortion services’ or ‘pregnancy help,’ and that’s why we want to focus on our websites,’ said Lauren Chenoweth, Heartbeat’s media specialist at the time. Later she said, ‘We want to be strategic in getting them to our centers.’” [Comsopolitan 4/6/15]

Heartbeat International Has Exported These SEO Tactics Abroad. “Across Latin America, four of the five [centers] we visited appear to advertise online as if they were ‘pro-choice’ groups or abortion providers. In Mexico, for example, one [center] advertises as a women’s support group on websites with names like iterrumpir-embarazo.com (‘interrupt pregnancy’) and aborto-mexico.com. One Costa Rican [center], part of the same regional network that is a Heartbeat partner and grantee, advertises itself on a website called quieroabortarcr.com (‘iwanttogetanabortioncr.com’).” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

Heartbeat International Affiliates Across The World Employ Similarly Deceptive Tactics As U.S.-Based Affiliates. “In Ecuador, another [center] says online: ‘Don’t change your life. It’s your decision,’ and appears to offer medical abortion pills. … In Uganda, where abortion is illegal unless the woman’s life is at risk, one Heartbeat affiliate in a Kampala suburb advertises ‘abortion information’ on a sign outside its building that says: ‘Are you pregnant and scared?’ –much like the slogans on the billboards of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy [centers] across the US.” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

The APRN Uses Social Media To Spread Its Misinformation In Russia. “Russia’s Abortion Pill Rescue Network also reaches women on most major social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, as well as WhatsApp and Viber.” [Pregnancy Help News, 7/12/21]

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Heartbeat International Has A Number Of Ties To The U.S. Government

Heartbeat International Has Connections To Both Former Vice President Mike Pence and Former President Donald Trump. “Heartbeat International claims close ties to the White House. Vice President Mike Pence has spoken at its events on Capitol Hill; Donald Trump applauded a 2018 Supreme Court decision in [favor] of crisis pregnancy [centers]; and Heartbeat has urged its allies to apply for funding from its ‘new friends in Washington.’” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

Heartbeat International Has A Strong Lobbying Presence On Capitol Hill. “Heartbeat says it has visited more than 250 offices of members of the US Congress to lobby for crisis pregnancy [centers] since 2009 – and last month Donald Trump became the first US president to attend an annual anti-abortion rally in Washington DC, claiming that ‘unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.’” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

U.S. Immigration Officials Referred Immigrant Minors Who Requested Abortions While In Federal Custody To Anti-Abortion Heartbeat International. “In 2017, US journalists meanwhile revealed that immigrant minors who requested abortions while in federal custody were being referred to Heartbeat affiliates for counselling.” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

  • A Trump Appointee Who Mismanaged The Program Formerly Served On The Board Of A Heartbeat International Affiliate. “The following year, Trump appointee Scott Lloyd – who previously served on the board of a Heartbeat affiliate in Virginia and co-founded a Christian law firm based inside Human Life International’s headquarters – lost his job after it emerged that he had repeatedly mishandled abortion requests from migrant teenagers.” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

Affiliates Receive Federal And State Funds Through Alternative to Abortion (A2A) Programs That Heartbeat International Helps Administer In At Least 11 U.S. States. “Still, the federal government and at least 11 states currently fund pregnancy centers, including Heartbeat affiliates.” [Comsopolitan 4/6/15]

  • “Heartbeat Itself Does Not Get Taxpayer Money, But It Has Distributed State Funding To Some Of Its Affiliates.” [openDemocracy, 2/10/20]

Heartbeat International Promotes An “Insider” Approach To Politics That Results In Their Centers Securing State Contracts. “In her talk ‘Lasting in Leadership: Staying Called, Not Driven,’ longtime anti-contraception activist Leslee Unruh said it’s been easier to pass anti-abortion bills since she began inviting South Dakota legislators ‘up to the lake’ in the summer. One such ‘win for God’ is an enjoined law that requires women seeking an abortion in South Dakota to receive counseling at either Unruh’s Heartbeat center in Sioux Falls or another evangelical center in Rapid City.” [Comsopolitan 4/6/15]

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