As children, how many times did we hear the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me?” If only that were true. Whether written, verbal, online, in video or person-to-person, our words have immense power to either build up relationships or break them down. Most importantly, when a young woman is facing an unexpected pregnancy, the words she hears can often mean the difference between life and death for her baby.
How can we be more effective in our communication? The answer may be to stop, listen and look through the eyes of someone who is considering abortion. A study by the Vitae Foundation entitled Abortion: A Failure to Communicate reveals that women who are facing an unexpected pregnancy do not connect with the types of messages that resonate within the pro-life community.
What goes through the mind of a woman contemplating abortion? This psychological research study shows that the women are overwhelmed with a sense of self-preservation. In their eyes, there is no “good” choice; instead they are deciding between what researchers termed as three “evils”—motherhood, adoption and abortion.
- Motherhood can feel like a “death of self.” A woman who faces an unexpected pregnancy can feel a total loss of control over her life.
- Adoption can feel like an even worse option. Yes, she’d be a mother, but she may perceive herself as bad mother who gave her own child away to strangers.
- Abortion may be seen as a very difficult decision, but one that helps the woman protect her identity and interests both now and in the future.
This is telling. One of the primary reasons the pro-abortion movement has entrapped so many women over the decades is because their message caters exclusively to the concept of the woman’s interests. The irony is that the “right to choose” only has power because it makes women feel like they have no other choice but abortion.
Often, the focus throughout the pro-life movement is on the humanity of the baby. While this is a powerful message for the purposes of awareness, education and legislation, it is not necessarily a message that will change the heart and mind of an abortion-minded woman. Unfortunately, many women in this position feel alienated and judged by pro-lifers. Emphasis on her baby may even bring feelings of denial, isolation and despair. And those are the very emotions that the abortion industry preys upon to convince these vulnerable women that abortion is the answer.
It is the responsibility of you and me to show women that abortion is not in their best interests. The good news is that we now have a number of excellent pro-life tools we can use to share this life-saving message. A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to meet with representatives from Vision for Life Pittsburgh and Women’s Choice Network to discuss how they’re using television advertisements and internet media to reach women who feel they have no other option but abortion. For example, over the summer, they ran a commercial called “Ultimatum” on BET and MTV in the Pittsburgh area.
In the ad, a young black woman speaks to the camera in first-person:
“So, this pregnancy wasn’t planned… it’s going to be ok, really. So, your baby’s daddy gave you an ultimatum, ‘it’s me or the baby’… Come on, that’s not real love. A baby is a life you created; a baby that will love you and need you in return. There are people that will help you and services available. Call this number. You don’t have to do this alone.”
( Click here to watch the ad.)
The producer of the campaign, Heroic Media, stated that in 2011, television, internet and outdoor ads generated over 146,000 connections to life-affirming resources across the United States. That represents potentially 12 – 17% of total abortions as reflected in the most recent statistics from the Guttmacher Institute and Centers for Disease Control.
That level of impact demonstrates a profound truth—many women who are considering abortion are making calls for help and seeking someone who will listen. We know pro-abortion advocates are eager to validate their fears and make a case for abortion. Instead of protecting them, they’re setting women up for even greater physical and emotional harm. It’s essential that we answer these calls for help with open hearts and minds. We must have the courage to put aside our interests and truly connect with the trauma these women are feeling. No matter what their circumstance—college student , rape victim, single mother—they need to know that what seems like the solution is wrought with long-term anguish and problems. As you know, pro-abortion activists like to claim that you and I only care about the “fetus” and not both the mother and her child. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s continue to prove them wrong.
For the lives of mothers and babies,
Life Issues Institute