Ellen Foell, J.D., Esq., who previously served as Legal Counsel to Heartbeat International, has recently rejoined the Heartbeat Ministry Services team as International Program Specialist. Ellen’s introduction to pro-life work came as part of a team that defended peaceful, pro-life protesters. Ellen worked as a trial lawyer for many years after graduating from Case Western Reserve University. As legal counsel for Heartbeat, she was instrumental in laying the groundwork for several international initiatives, including our Europe Pregnancy Help Leaders Summit.
Ellen’s heart for the international program at Heartbeat is fueled by her family connections to Asia and Europe, and she is familiar with several languages. We’re thrilled to have Ellen working with the Heartbeat team again, so we decided to do a quick interview to share our excitement!
What did you do before with Heartbeat and what do you hope to do in your current role?
My last “gig” with Heartbeat was as Legal Counsel, a position now well-filled by Danielle White, Esq. I was in the position just under 5 years, and it was a wonderful experience. I had the chance to meet with lots of affiliates, do lots of legal reviews, do some teaching, and basically do all things legal for Heartbeat.
I always loved the mission and vision of Heartbeat, so when I had the chance to come back in a role with even more contact with affiliates, I was really excited. I see the pregnancy help movement across the globe is growing more and more. Look at what just happened in Ireland, a country where we never thought legalized abortion would come, and it did. Heartbeat is in a position to come alongside the pregnancy help centers where the political climate is changing. We have a lot to offer, and a lot to learn from these new organizations starting out, trying new things in new places.
What did you do with yourself between 2015, when you concluded your time as Heartbeat’s Legal Counsel, and now?
I finished writing a book and started getting it ready for publication. I have been doing some work representing ministries and nonprofit organizations. I’ve also been doing some court-appointed work.
I did court-appointed work because I have such a long history of desire to help children. When you do this here, you often get appointed to represent either parents, children, or the best interests of children in abuse, neglect, and dependency cases. I really like it because you get to look at all the facts, and help the court find out what’s in the best interest of these children.
At the same time, it’s like putting band-aids on this incredible cultural systemic problem. It’s frustrating because you can put the band-aid on, but you’re not dealing with the foundational piece, which is life is sacred. God sees the life of this child as sacred, and God sees the lives of these parents, regardless of what they’re doing, as sacred.
One of the reasons I really wanted to take this position is that Heartbeat really deals with the foundational issue – that life is sacred. You can apply a billion band-aids, but if you have not addressed the foundation piece, if you’re not trying to help create and transform the pro-life gospel in a culture, you’re gonna be applying band-aids for the rest of your life. People need to do that anyway until Jesus returns, but I really want to make the years I have left count, and I think this is the way to do that.
What’s one thing that you’ve already really enjoyed coming back to Heartbeat?
I love being a part of a team. It’s encouraging to be with like-minded people again. It’s encouraging to be with people who have a vision to see a world in which abortion is unthinkable.