(Photo: Heartbeat International)
Pro-life and family advocate Dr. James Dobson encouraged pregnancy help service providers this week in their fight against the abortion movement, which he described as vicious.
Dobson, who spoke to more than 600 people attending Heartbeat International's annual conference Thursday, said that being on the frontlines of providing an alternative to groups such as Planned Parenthood was not easy.
"The leaders of the abortion movement are vicious about what they are doing. They are absolutely committed to it," he said. "I've asked myself, 'Why are they so passionate about what they are doing?' There are really two reasons for it. One is population control and the other is they are making a lot of money doing it."
Speaking about the tactics used by the pro-abortion side, he said, "They will intimidate you. They will try to embarrass you. They will even threaten you and I'm sure that there are people here who have been through that. And I've had my bouts with them, too."
Founded in the U.S. in 1971, Heartbeat International is a network of pro-life pregnancy resource centers that has grown to become the largest global network of its kind. The Christian-based association has nearly 1,200 affiliated pregnancy help ministries – including pregnancy help medical clinics (with ultrasound), resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies in more than 50 countries to provide alternatives to abortion.
Heartbeat President Peggy Hartshorn compared the battle for saving unborn children in today's world to that of the David v. Goliath story found in the Bible. She urged those in the association to "pick up their rock" to help the cause.
"The Goliath of our times is the abortion industry and the face of this giant is Planned Parenthood," Harshorn said. "Planned Parenthood is the largest chain of abortion clinics in the United States. Twenty-seven percent of all abortions done in the U.S. are done in a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic."
She added that 91 percent of pregnant women who enter a Planned Parenthood have an abortion.
The solution is to "get to them first," she said.
"We have hope. Nine states have voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Abortion clinics are closing. They went from having 2,000 abortion clinics in the U.S. to 700," she said. "Fifty-one percent of all Americans now consider themselves pro-life. We need more, but we are advancing. We are producing a culture of life."
Harshorn said Heartbeat has the most expansive network in the world. "About 80 percent who experience an ultrasound choose life. An estimated 2,000 babies are saved each week through you, our pregnancy help center network."
With 25,000 "foot soldiers" working for the association in various capacities, she said, "We are taking ground."
"We are advancing with Christ-centered, strategically located, effective pregnancy help ministries that are working in our communities with the body of Christ to provide [multiple services]," she explained. "We are the alternative to Planned Parenthood."
Dobson said he was at the conference because he believes in the work Heartbeat does and is passionate about the unborn child.
He told those in attendance that when abortion on demand was legalized by the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade more than 39 years ago, it struck him as odd that "there was this silence" from evangelical Christians.
"Christians just yawned and went on. Had it not been for the Catholics there would not have been [any vocal opposition]," Dobson said. "Things started to change but it wasn't until the early '80s. My fellow conservative evangelicals didn't get it at all."
He added that during this time period, some Christians did not understand "what was so wrong" with Planned Parenthood. "To consider how far we've come from there to now with the work of organizations like this I am very grateful," he said.