Probes “inappropriate and beneath your office,” Heartbeat says
Elizabeth Warren and six U.S. Senate colleagues who with her have hectored Heartbeat International over purported client privacy concerns should refocus their energy on protecting Americans – whether pro-life or not - from pro-abortion vandalism and violence, Heartbeat’s legal counsel told the senators Monday.
“Demonstrate unequivocally to the American people that you will protect even those with whom you disagree by equal application of the laws passed by the U.S. Senate,” First Liberty Institute wrote in a letter on Heartbeat’s behalf.
The legal non-profit responded to the latest missive in Sen. Warren’s, D-Mass, rhetorical assailing of Heartbeat International based on alleged concerns over Heartbeat’s handling of data collected from pregnancy help clients.
“Heartbeat’s highest priority is caring for its clients, including protecting their privacy,” the letter to the Democrat senators said. “To this end, it complies with all pertinent laws and regulations of the United States. It has not and does not share personally identifiable information with law enforcement, the public, nor any third party.”
Tweet This: Heartbeat’s highest priority is caring for its clients, including protecting their privacy.
Heartbeat International, as the largest network of pregnancy help globally, supports thousands of pregnancy centers, pregnancy medical clinics, maternity homes, and non-profit adoption agencies around the world.
U.S. pregnancy centers, churches, and pro-life organizations have been the target of more than 100 instances of pro-abortion vandalism, violence, and/or harassment since the May 2 leak of the U.S. Supreme Court majority draft opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case which ultimately resulted in the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
Additionally, abortion misinformation pertaining to abortion access has been promulgated in the media since Dobbs, including that women will die from ectopic pregnancy if abortion is restricted, that fetal heartbeats detected at six weeks do not exist, and that women will be prosecuted for seeking abortion or if they miscarry.
Abortion proponents have likewise spread falsehoods about pregnancy help centers since before and since Dobbs, such as that the centers that attract women under false pretense, give them false information about abortion, and misrepresent themselves as medical clinics.
Warren took this false narrative to a new level in July when she said pregnancy centers fool and torture people and should be shut down. She and other senators introduced legislation titled the “Stop Anti-Abortion Disinformation Act” in June, and in July she lobbied from the Senate floor for “cracking down” pregnancy centers for so-called “deceptive and misleading practices.”
Then Warren, along with Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Cory Booker, D-N.J., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., wrote Heartbeat President Jo-El Godsey a defamatory letter Sept. 19, projecting anti-pregnancy help pejoratives onto Heartbeat and its affiliates, with claims of luring pregnant women into centers via the use of false and misleading tactics, and Heartbeat promoting websites that have inaccurate claims and conducting misleading practices.
The senators inferred in that first letter that Heartbeat could be using data collected from clients to target women and abortion providers for prosecution under laws that restrict abortion, using over-the-top language, such as “abortion bounty hunters.”
They asked a handful of questions on information collected by Heartbeat entities and affiliates and that answers be provided by Oct. 3.
The tools pregnancy centers use to provide care are safe and secure
Heartbeat International responded through First Liberty Oct. 3, noting the falsehoods in the Warren letter, and questioning whether legal grounds existed for the senators to investigate Heartbeat as a private, religious non-profit, or to compel Heartbeat to answer their questions.
Heartbeat’s legal counsel informed the senators in the response that the tools pregnancy centers use to provide the care they do are safe and secure, “as client safety and confidentiality are of the utmost importance.”
First Liberty further noted Warren’s remarks in recent months calling for Congress to more aggressively regulate pregnancy help centers, her praising Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s move to put a “consumer advisory” on pro-life reproductive health facilities in Massachusetts, and Warren’s claiming that pregnancy centers torture women, while calling upon the federal government to “shut them down all around the country.”
The legal group further asked 10 questions about the group of Dem senators’ handling and response to the pro-abortion attacks on pregnancy centers, churches, and pro-life groups since the May 2 Dobbs leak, with a response requested by Oct. 23.
Warren and the others, in an Oct. 21 letter, doubled down on their claims and abortion talking points, and acknowledged they were “strong supporters of abortion rights,” but denied this played into their actions or that they intended to encourage violence.
First Liberty pushed back against Warren and the others in the Oct. 31 response, questioning their motives and the group’s use of federal office to investigate a private organization with opposing views, noting that this is beneath the office of a federal lawmaker.
“We would hope that your continued interest in the work of Heartbeat International stems from a joint compassion for the women served by our network of life-affirming reproductive health facilities and its myriad of volunteers,” the legal group wrote the pro-abortion lawmakers. “Yet, having now received two inquiries from sitting United States Senators - all of whom appear to support your hope that the federal government will “shut [life-affirming reproductive health facilities] down all around the country,” - we are left to conclude that your questions have little to do with understanding our client’s network of facilities, the women served, or even the use of personally identifiable information.”
“Rather, you appear determined to wield the power of your office to investigate a private organization that holds to a religious and ideological position with which you disagree,” First Liberty wrote. “Such is inappropriate and beneath your office.”
In the Oct. 31 response First Liberty reiterated for the senators that they serve all Americans without regard for ideology, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Watkins v. United States:
“Investigations conducted solely for the personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to ‘punish’ those investigated are indefensible.”
“We remind you that your sworn duty is to the representation of all of your constituents, not merely those with whom you agree,” First Liberty stated.
Tweet This: Heartbeat International has not and does not share personally identifiable information with law enforcement, the public, nor any third party
“We respectfully request that you refocus your energies”
First Liberty also noted the senators’ refusal to answer Heartbeat’s questions on the abortion violence in the earlier letter, while Heartbeat had answered their questions.
Further, the letter pointed out, though the senators were asked to identify any example in which they publicly repudiated the numerous criminal acts against pregnancy help and pro-life entities, they have not done so, while they have publicly expressed hope that the federal government will shut down these private, life-affirming reproductive health facilities.
The senators have also failed to say how they will protect Heartbeat and women from the ongoing attacks on centers by abortion proponents, it said, a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (“FACE”) Act, a law frequently used to prohibit pro-life sidewalk counselors from ministering outside of abortion centers.
“We respectfully request that you refocus your energies,” First Liberty concluded. “Rather than fix your ire on our client, redirect your attention to the oversight of the federal government entrusted by the American people to your care.”
Heartbeat President Godsey remained skeptical about Warren and her fellow abortion-supportive senators’ motivation and handling of the matter.
Godsey said, "As President Ronald Reagan noted, "The nine most terrifying words are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"
“These Senators admit their bias for abortion and have also made their animus toward pregnancy centers clear through their public statements,” he said. “There are already laws that protect privacy and no actual evidence of need for more. Color me suspicious that they'll stop only at being redundant and not move to protect their Big Abortion friends at the expense of a reasoned, caring, compassionate pro-life response."
Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.