Four million individuals have received assistance from Option Line, Heartbeat International’s pro-life contact center providing round-the-clock support for women and families in need.
This week Heartbeat International’s Option Line, the only fully staffed, 24/7 bilingual pro-life contact center in the United States, hit the major milestone of having served its 4-millionth client with life-saving assistance and resources.
“The Option Line staff works hard to answer each of these contacts in a spirit of love and compassion,” said Option Line Director Nafisa Kennedy. “It is because of their dedication, which at times has required sacrifice, that our lines remain open 24/7.”
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“They are heroes,” Kennedy said, “and these seemingly small interactions are momentous in the lives of the people they serve.”
The calls for help come from all over the world to Option Line, and the pro-life contact center’s Life Affirming Specialists provide consultation on abortion, adoption and parenting. They first meet the client’s immediate needs and then connect them directly with their local pregnancy help organization, scheduling appointments in real-time through a state-of-the-art system. Option Line partners with centers to take 100-percent of their calls after hours and schedule appointments for when the centers reopen.
The 4-millionth client was a woman in India who reached out to Option Line’s Live Chat for some general information about pregnancy early in the morning of August 24, 2020. She was routed to a seasoned consultant who has been working with Option Line since 2013 and who helped her sort through her concerns and find pregnancy help near her area via Heartbeat International's Worldwide Directory of Pregnancy Help.
“This contact, whose interaction was extremely ordinary by Option Line standards, is special because she represents the 4 millionth time Option Line has been there to answer in time of need,” said Kennedy, who has worked with OL since early 2006, and became director in 2017.
“This international client was provided help because of Heartbeat International’s Worldwide Directory,” Kennedy said, “highlighting the fact that pregnancy help is needed across the globe. Even though the client reached out at a time of day when centers typically are not open, they were still connected to a pregnancy help center.”
Aside from being available 24/7 to clients with personal assistance, Option Line’s website provides comprehensive information on pregnancy, pregnancy options, “emergency contraception” and after abortion support.
Every day the center’s consultants handle hundreds, often well over 1,000, contacts by phone, chat, email and text. Option Line maintains a 90% answer rate, well above industry standard, even throughout the coronavirus pandemic, during which Option Line remained a crucial safety net amid a marked jump in contacts early on.
During the first month and a half of the outbreak, contact traffic into center increased 30-50% with consultants answering 1,500 to 2,000 contacts each day, adding shifts and training to ensure clients were served and staff members were prepared.
Option Line, originally a joint venture with Care Net from 2003-2012, celebrated 17 years of service in February of this year. It not only meets the needs of many via its well-known 800-712-HELP number, but it also serves as the 24/7 emergency contact center for the Abortion Pill Rescue Network, Safe Haven and more.
Heartbeat International President Jor-El Godsey expressed gratitude for the Option Line staff, and their impact over the years.
“I'm blessed to serve alongside the Option Line team that serves so many so faithfully,” he said. “The Option Line number has become the must-know contact information for pro-life ministries across the outreach spectrum and the across the globe.”
“From quick calls that are live-transferred to local help to extended conversations in the overnight hours, the Option Line team has been a model of faithfulness and faith-filled missionaries,” said Godsey.
From the very early years the founders of Heartbeat International envisioned a "WATS line," or "Wide Area Telephone Service," which was the fore-runner to 800#s, to be dedicated to connecting women facing an unplanned, unintended pregnancy with life-affirming help, Godsey recalled, and that vision finally became a reality when the first contact to Option Line was answered in January of 2003.
“Marking 4 million today celebrates the vision of those that saw it long before it happened,” he said. “And of each and every person that has answered a call (or chat, text, or email) themselves or stood with us in support of this life-changing ministry.”
Kennedy noted, “Having worked as a consultant, I can say that a 4-millionth contact is a great milestone!”
“But, as soon as that person is helped, there's another one waiting. and another, then another,” she said. “The work goes on-the need goes on, and every minute is another opportunity to impact a person (or two people) for eternity.”
“The team at Option Line, through the last 17 years, has been a consistent source of hope, help, and healing,” Godsey continued. “Their tender service is due to their commitment, and tenacity, to be available through long nights, weekends, and countless holidays.”
“Truly they represent that the best alternative to abortion is another person willing to walk with those in the valley of decision,” he said.
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The Option Line consultant who served the 4-millionth client said that she loves assisting others through Option Line, and draws on her own experience with an unplanned pregnancy to minister to others, stating,
"I love what I do!” she exclaimed. “I had an unplanned pregnancy in college and my daughter is the BIGGEST blessing in my life. Because of my life experiences I can relate to young women in crisis. I wouldn't want any other job!"
Bri Laycock is Heartbeat International’s Senior Director of Ministry Solutions, and previously she worked at Option Line beginning a month after it began.
“In that first month we received around a thousand calls and we were thrilled,” she said. “I never could have guessed that 17 years later we’d have reached 4 million people through phones, emails, chats and text messages.”
Laycock was Option Line director in July 2014 when the 2-millionth contact came in by phone in the middle of the night.
“It was a young woman looking for abortion information with an intention to abort,” she told staff at the time. The call was referred to a local pregnancy help center.
The Option Line consultant was scheduled to be off work at midnight, but she stayed a little late on her shift to be there for this call, again demonstrating the commitment of the Option Line team. Laycock celebrated this in her message to staff.
“It’s even harder to believe that the women I spoke with back then who made the choice to continue their pregnancies, now have children heading into their senior years in high school!” she said. “You could fill whole schools with kids who are alive today because of the work of the Option Line staff over the last 17 years.”
Kennedy expressed gratitude for the lifesaving work the Option Line team has been able to perform.
“Thanks be to God, who has sustained and maintained this ministry through 17 years and 4 million contacts,” she said. “His care for each of us, and those we serve, is beyond what we could ask, seek, or hope for.”