Wednesday, 28 February 2024
Heartbeat of Miami founder and president Martha Avila with supporters of the pregnancy help organization at the Homestead, Fla., open house Heartbeat of Miami founder and president Martha Avila with supporters of the pregnancy help organization at the Homestead, Fla., open house Heartbeat of Miami

Walking by faith: Florida pregnancy help organization opens fifth medical clinic

Approximately one year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and one pregnancy medical clinic in Florida set a grand opening for the anniversary of that historic day despite several obstacles which could have kept the opening from happening.

Heartbeat of Miami held an open house on Saturday, June 24, at its fifth medical clinic, hosting more than 75 people for tours and snacks, despite a heavy rainstorm, according to the organization’s founder and president, Martha Avila.

“It was awesome, truly awesome!” she said. “Some people came from four hours away.”

Scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon, people were still arriving a few hours later. Attendees received a tour, met with staff, and ate snacks at the new Homestead location, a small house that was “walk-in ready” when discovered last year. However, that location and facility almost didn’t take root as another Heartbeat of Miami clinic.

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A home in Homestead

“Homestead has always been close to my heart,” Avila said.

For more than a decade, she has desired to open a location in Homestead, an area known for immigrants and human trafficking. 

Foreign women, primarily from central America and Mexico, are often taken to the area to work in bars and solicit men. Many become pregnant from these encounters or the predators who put them to work. 

Often the women are pressured to abort, which happened to a woman Avila met in 2013, who was taken to Heartbeat of Miami by a relative who thought the clinic was an abortion facility. 

The young woman, who was 16 weeks along at the time, and only 16 years of age, saw the image of her unborn and quickly said ‘no’ to abortion, Avila said.

The teen became Avila’s ward several months later after a social worker learned more about the young woman’s relative and decided the home was not a good place for her to live. Avila and her husband ultimately adopted the young girl and embraces the child as their granddaughter.

Avila longed to help the women of Homestead.

“I kept praying and praying,” she said. “My heart remained in Homestead.”

Late last year, a rental property became available. But it needed work, and on Veteran’s Day, Avila and her staff began remodeling and painting.

“I removed a panel, and black mold came out like a demon,” Avila said.

After a major discussion with the facility’s owner, he refunded the money Avila had put down, and she began looking for a different location.

“Nothing was available to rent,” she recalled.

Someone told her about a small house for sale, which she looked at.

“It was in walk-in condition,” she said.

However, a contract to purchase the home was on the table, and the seller would not step out of the document.

“My heart was broken,” Avila said. “I was a woman of little faith. Only God can do the impossible, and this was impossible.”

Avila greets visitors to the Homestead open house/Heartbeat of Miami

A month later, she received a phone call. The sale had not taken place and the owner, whose father-in-law had been a doctor with whom Avila was familiar, was willing to lease the space to the organization. However, the lease price was higher than she and the board had planned for. 

“I felt this loss in my heart,” Avila said. “I was devastated.”

She cried out to the Lord and was reminded of the clinic that opened in 2008 during the economic meltdown and how He provided for Heartbeat’s needs during that crisis. Avila shared the story with PreBorn, the organization that later gifted the ultrasound machine for the Homestead location. The CEO promised to cover the extra needed for the first year’s lease.

Avila received the keys to the small house in April and opened the doors in May. A donor paid for furnishings, including artwork, and set things up while she was on vacation.

“It was perfection," Avila said. "Nothing was used – it was all new. I cried from the moment I walked in.” 

The new location offers the same services and programs as the other four Heartbeat of Miami clinics, including free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting programs, materials assistance, and community referrals, among others. 

Heartbeat of Miami's Homestead materials closet/Heartbeat of Miami

Challenges and support

Besides the challenges of the time it took to locate a clinic in Homestead and the first building’s mold issues, Heartbeat of Miami has experienced other problems during the past year. 

Vandalism at one location and disruption of last year’s gala by pro-abortion advocates threatened to set back and intimidate Avila and her team. 

However, despite the adversarial action by the radical group at last September’s event and the damage done to the building the previous July, the organization rebounded, including opening within a day after the vandalism, thanks again to staff and supporters.

Heartbeat of Miami and other Florida pregnancy centers, as well as the state of Florida, have filed lawsuits against the groups Jane’s Revenge and Antifa for the damages and harassment under the FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act.

More support via the addition of funds is likely on the horizon. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican nomination for President of the United States, signed a bill to support pregnancy centers in the state, a component of a heartbeat bill that bans abortion at six weeks gestation, when an unborn child’s heartbeat can be detected via ultrasound. Exceptions to this are allowed in cases of rape, incest, or human trafficking, and the abortion ban allows these exceptions until 15 weeks gestation. 

In the legislation, $25 million is to be appropriated in the 2023-2024 state budget for pregnancy support and wellness services such as “counseling, mentoring, educational materials, and classes, as well as material assistance including clothing, car seats, cribs, baby formula, and diapers,” according to language in the bill that the governor signed.

Time for prayer and trust

With five pregnancy medical clinics now under her wing, Avila ensures each has a space for prayer, a “war room,” she said. One of the locations is a former abortion clinic, and the space where abortions were once performed is now that war room. The Homestead property may be small with a “utility closet” for prayer, and Roe v. Wade may have been overturned last year, but prayer continues to be a vital aspect of Heartbeat of Miami’s mission and culture.

As of late June about 20 women had received services at the Homestead location since the doors opened May 1. Because of the many changes within immigration and abortion policies, “many women are scared,” Avila said.

Avila gives a tour of the Heartbeat of Miami Homestead medical clinic/Heartbeat of Miami

“We have to build trust with them,” she said. “We’ve been going to businesses, many that are owned by immigrants, and we tell them we are not the government.” 

“These women have nothing, absolutely nothing, but we are here for them,” said Avila. “We’re trusting God on this. I don’t know where God is leading, but we’re going to be there, helping them.”

Tweet This: “These women have nothing, absolutely nothing, but we are here for them” - Heartbeat of Miami founder and president Martha Avila.

Gayle Irwin

Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning author and freelance writer living in Wyoming. She’s been recognized by Wyoming Writers, Inc. and the Wyoming Press Association for several of her works. She’s contributed short stories to eight Chicken Soup for the Soul books and crafts dog books with inspiring messages for children. For nearly 13 years, Gayle worked as Patient Resources Director at True Care Women’s Resource Center, a pro-life pregnancy medical resource center in Casper, Wyoming. In addition to her children’s stories, she authors devotions and a series of sweet, inspirational romance books that weave pet rescue and adoption into the story. She considers herself a human and pet life advocate and finds creativity and connection in God’s creation. Learn more about Gayle on her website:

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