Heartbeat International (crisis pregnancy center network)
Heartbeat International is an international Christian association of 1,800 crisis pregnancy centers, providing assistance in education, training, support services like legal advice, and networking with other centers. It does not "offer, recommend, or refer for abortions or abortifacients." It is the largest CPC network in the world. Heartbeat International teaches its affiliated staff members who run pregnancy centers throughout the country to make their advertising look as though they are full-servive clinics that provide referrals for contraception or abortion. Staff are also trained on how to discourage pregnant women from accessing abortion, and how to discourage young women from using emergency contraception, birth control pills, or IUDs. Heartbeat staff are also encouraged to create two websites, one that has an explictly Christian message, and one that looks like Planned Parenthood. Many pregnancy centers have the ultimate goal of converting women through a born-again experience to "save the mother, save the baby."
Heartbeat International started in 1971 under the name Alternatives to Abortion, in response to increased liberalization of abortion laws in several states, which would eventually culminate in Roe v. Wade, making abortion legal across the United States. Its founders believed that legalizing abortion would result in more, not fewer, abortions, as women would be pressured into choosing abortion. Therefore, Alternatives to Abortion started as a humanitarian organization to provide a "safety net" of emergency pregnancy support as a counter to the pressure to abort. The organization does not provide material relief to women once they have decided pregnancies to term, except in some cases diapers or other hand-outs. The organization adopted its current name in 1993.
Heartbeat describes itself as a "Christian association" whose materials are "consistent with Biblical principles." These principles include the ideas that sex outside heterosexual marriage "damages" people, especially women, and that God only sanctions sexual relationships between heterosexual men and women.
- Official website
- Option Line - 24-hour telephone and web-based listing and referral service operated by Care Net and Heartbeat International.
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