Pro-Life Conference Presents Media as Effective Outreach Tool

PASADENA, Calif. – As the lights dimmed and the white projection screen flickered with images of young women expressing emotions from sadness to hopefulness, the audience at the 2006 Annual Pro-life conference sat forward, waiting for what the characters on the screen had to say about pregnancy and abortion.

Hosted by The Right to Life League, America’s first pro-life organization, the annual pro-life conference was held on Jan. 21 at First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena, Calif. Vitae Caring Foundation – a non-profit Missouri-based organization focused on educating people on the sanctity of human life through mass media – was invited to share on how media can be an effective tool in delivering pro-life messages to the target audience.

“Vitae took the approach of mass media and has reached thousands if not millions of people,” said Vitae Spokeswoman Stacey Kromer at the conference. “We found that T.V. is the most effective way of marketing value and virtue. It is non-confrontational and non-judgmental advertising.”

In the ad, “Classroom,” directed at the African-American audience, young black American students stood up in a classroom setting and said what they wanted to become. “I want to be a doctor,” “I would have been a famous actress,” “I wish I could have been a basketball player,” they said one by one, before disappearing. A teacher meanwhile provided startling statistics on the high rate of abortion among the black community, including the fact that one in three black babies are aborted.

“They are being told to abort these children and will subsequently wipe out an entire generation!” exclaimed Kromer after repeating the statistics.

The ads sought to present pro-life messages by choosing characters that were relatable in age and thought to the target audience, reassuring the viewer that there are options other than abortion.

Another ad, “Crowd,” tactfully conveyed the message of going against the crowd by showing a young high school age girl walking up a spiral staircase against the bustling crowd.

“Sure it’s hard, but you do what you know is right,” the character says. “Maybe your voice isn’t the loudest, but it is the voice you want to listen to. If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you don’t have to have an abortion. There are other options.”

The ad “Lifesaver,” one of the most popular Vitae ads, presented a relatable message from a young female firefighter who had just saved a child from a fire.

“My mom was young, single, no money. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her to give me a chance. But today, I know that she would be very proud that her decision saved more than one life,” the character said.

Vitae ads do not run city-wide but are targeted at specific audiences. Vitae uses target programs that the target audience usually watches to decide which areas to air their ads. These shows include: Days of Our Lives, Oprah, Dr. Phil, MTV, BET, and VH1.

According to Kromer, an ad costs about $60,000 to film and can be cut and edited and reused to make several ads. An ad that ran on T.V. in Dallas, Texas, for four weeks on Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays had cost about $60,000.

In Los Angeles, where the ad “Runner” and “Stuff Like That” were aired in Spring 2004, results showed that there were 1,300 total calls to pregnancy centers and 55.4 percent of these calls were prompted by the ads. Moreover, 70 percent of the women who called the centers decided to give birth to their child.

“These are real lives. These are babies being born,” said Kromer. “We are please and elated about the results that these ads show.”

Kromer ended by revealing that her younger sister, at age 17, became pregnant and was advised by her family doctor to have an abortion. But the now Vitae spokeswoman counseled her sister to not have an abortion and said, “You are going to have my niece or nephew.”

Her niece Kristen, will graduate from high school this spring and will go on a trip to New York with Kromer and her husband as her graduation gift.

“The pro-choice people say that it is a right,” said Kromer. “But the pro-life people say that it is a life.”

To find out more about Vitae Caring Foundation visit: www.vitaecaringfoundation.org

To find out more about The Right To Life League visit: www.rtllsc.org