The pill is now the most popular way for a woman to get an abortion. With the convenience and price of the pill, the abortion industry prioritizes suggesting it to those who want to terminate their pregnancies. The abortion rate has been dropping over the past 30 years, which is good news for the life movement that seeks to empower women to keep their babies. The fact that abortion procedures have shifted more and more toward chemical abortions provides an added ray of hope to show women who have initiated the termination of their pregnancy that they still have the option to choose life.
This is where Heartbeat International comes in. The organization has spent 50 years helping pregnant women since starting as Alternatives to Abortion, founded in 1971 by an obstetrician named Dr. John Hillabrand and a refugee from Nazi Germany named Lore Maier. Today, it is home to the Abortion Pill Rescue Network, a hotline that women can call after they’ve taken the first of the two pills in the chemical abortion cocktail.
“Once she’s on the table — other than those that have had the courage to get up from the table — once she’s in that spot, we’ve not been able to help her from there,” Heartbeat International President Jor-El Godsey said to Save the Storks. “Now with abortion pill reversal, even though she’s taking that first pill, there’s still one last chance that she might be able to choose life for her baby.”
Godsey continued by explaining that he’s noticed how quickly women regret initiating the termination of their pregnancy by how they reach out in desperation to see if they can save their baby.
“Seventy-five percent of the women who reach us reach us within the first 24 hours after they’ve taken that first pill,” he said. “But what’s even more startling than that is the amazing number of women who call us from the very parking lot of the abortion clinic.”
Heartbeat International’s Impact
Heartbeat International recently announced that the Abortion Pill Rescue Network has saved 3,000 babies since being handed the torch from Dr. George Delgado, who developed the treatment to nullify the effects of the first pill in the chemical abortion process. Delgado began treating women in Southern California in the 2000s. Dr. Matt Harrison from North Carolina also developed a similar process of helping women choose life.
The first pill in a chemical abortion is mifepristone, which is designed to starve the baby by cutting off progesterone, a hormone that a woman’s body naturally creates to feed her baby. The second pill is misoprostol, which induces labor and flushes out the baby. The abortion pill reversal treatment consists of doses of progesterone to counteract the first pill.
Prior to Heartbeat International taking over the hotline in 2018, estimates suggested around 450 mothers had used the progesterone treatment to choose life. The platform that Heartbeat International was able to provide, including its network of more than 1,000 medical providers across the United States and their Option Line that offers resources to pregnant mothers with any questions, helped the number of lives saved grow exponentially.
“We are an international entity, of course it’s in our name, and so we have a further reach, a broader reach than what Dr. Delgado had,” Godsey shared. “Although he had done an amazing amount of work to get the word out, … our reach helped amplify what he had already done. Our sphere was different than his and in some ways larger than his and so we’ve been able to kind of complement that.”
Heartbeat International’s Continued Mission
There are 14 states that have laws in effect or are revising or proposing legislation to require healthcare providers to inform women who are considering or have initiated a chemical abortion that treatment to save the baby is available. However, there are still incredible obstacles that organizations like Heartbeat International face to reach women, including having its advertising blocked by Google.
“Google has not let up on that,” Godsey said. “…They say it’s an unreliable claim, although we’ve tried to present to them the fact that we have 3,000 examples, that we have 3,000 evidence points that says this is real. Not to mention we even have the science of the abortion industry, showing that it proves that abortion pill reversal works, although they’ve done a heck of a lot to kind of cover that up and then create a false narrative around that. That’s a whole other story.”
The story that can’t be covered up is the purpose behind everything Heartbeat International does. Godsey is driven by the conviction that helping pregnant women and their babies is a Gospel mission, and God’s grace after an abortion in his past because he didn’t think there were any other options.
“It’s been the opportunity that the Lord has given me to dedicate my life to doing this to help others not feel like they have no other options,” Godsey said. “That’s really the goal, or the heart of the pregnancy help movement, is to make sure that she doesn’t feel like there’s nowhere else for her to turn. That’s the deep hurt when we hear the stories that say, ‘I didn’t know who else to turn to.’ That’s why we exist.”