Want to "stop abortion"?
Here’s an example. The text above the photo reads, “Pregnancy testing, ultrasound, STD testing -- all free. Get the help you need. Caring, confidential. There’s a center near you. Call today! Share for your friends.” Neighborhoods and phone numbers follow. Unique phone numbers through Heroic Media let us track call totals. This ad cost us $350. The ad appeared on 15,773 screens; 496 people clicked on the photo; 104 liked the ad; 28 liked the page; 2 made comments; 13 shared the ad post; and 8 made calls to a pregnancy medical center.
For each month in 2015, on average we spent $321 on “Pittsburgh Choices” ads, reached 28,948 screens at least 3 times in the month, and got 209 post “likes,” 16 “shares,” 46 page “likes, and 12 phone calls to pregnancy medical centers. The cost per call was $26. In the two years following, the costs of Facebook advertising went up, and the cost-per-call as well.
- Amount spent: White model – $298; Black model – $313
- “Actions”: White model – 622; Black model – 795 a month
- Post “likes”: White model – 138; Black model – 201
- Post “shares”: White model – 10; Black model – 18
- Page “likes”: White model – 32; Black model – 47
- Phone calls: White model – 6.8; Black model – 9.9
We moved from boosting posts to doing advertising through Facebook’s ad portal (“Manage Ads”). We began doing “carousel” ads on Facebook (several photos in sequence, which let us tell a story, for example, about going to a center, and getting the information and help needed), and eventually shifted to video.
We also changed our slogan to “Friends tell friends.” The ads are directed not to the woman facing an unintended pregnancy, but to her friends. About 40% of center clients are referred by friends. Facebook is a great venue for digitizing those referrals. Of course, women who have unintended pregnancies will see the ads, as will women who have had abortions. The implied audience, however, is invited to help other anxious women, something that most people are happy to do. Low-key, gentle, woman-centered, positive ads work.
There is currently a campaign by pro-choice activists to label pregnancy help centers “fake clinics.” Most women will not have heard of it, or of the “exposefakeclinics” website. While we can ignore the attacks and the false claims, it doesn’t hurt to encourage women to trust the centers by having the medical director appear in an ad (either a photo or a video). For this reason we ran an ad on Facebook in April 2018 for Choices Pregnancy Services featuring Dr. Rocco Adams, the Medical Director (https://youtu.be/3JaJAKzO-qI).
In 2016–17 we expanded the work that Women’s Choice Network had begun with the advertising agency Ad America. Brad Mandel of Ad America does “local search” optimization, or “Google Places” optimization, a comprehensive management of centers’ web presence so that the centers shows up when women search on Google for abortion in their area.
The success of advertising in Pittsburgh has been demonstrated by repeated campaigns of harassment and deception by pro-choice activists over the past couple of years. In the most recent campaign, in March and April of 2018, activists have been phoning Women’s Choice Network to ask to speak to the doctor (who is not on site, and has no reason to be), and have given many one-star reviews on Google Places (without having visited the centers), claiming that they are not “full-service women’s health centers” because they don’t perform abortions. The extent of this opposition reflects their realization that they are losing the public relations battle: people think pregnancy help is a good thing, and more and more women are choosing life.
Recommendations for those in pregnancy help centers
If possible, create a separate organization to advertise for your center, an organization with its own fundraising and budget. No matter what goes on with your expenses and fundraising, you want the advertising to continue, but it will be hard for your Board not to cut advertising if there’s any kind of financial squeeze. I’m convinced that, if your numbers go up, your supporters will rise to the challenge, if you present it clearly. People like helping women in need.
Ideally, find someone willing to lead this new group, and someone with church connections outside of the ones your organization has. You want to reach new donors. E.g., if your center is supported mostly by evangelicals, seek out Roman Catholic (or Orthodox) who are prominent in their pro-life commitments. You want people who don’t want just to make a statement, but to make a difference. They’re not always the same people. Let them create a new 501(c)(3), and collaborate with them on your advertising. Again, I’m happy to advise.
Whether you do your own advertising, or a separate groups does it, find ways to measure your results. We use state statistics on abortion and births. Use your center’s statistics, too. Donors and everyone else will be encouraged if you can show you are making a difference. Be transparent, even if you don’t see success.
We need to fear not failure, because you can always learn from failure, but the lack of initiative, the fear of failure. There are always nay-sayers who can see why something won’t work. Try things out over several months, and follow results closely. This is a long, slow battle.
Contact information and an ad resource
- Chris Humphrey – firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-418-6349
2. Joerg Dreweke, “New Clarity for the U.S. Abortion Debate: A Steep Drop in Unintended Pregnancy Is Driving Recent Abortion Declines,” Guttmacher Policy Review, Guttmacher Institute. Available online March 18, 2018, www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2016/03/new-clarity-us-abortion-debate-steep-drop-unintended-pregnancy-driving-recent-abortion, accessed April 17, 2018.
3. For a close examination of the question of the effect of contraception on unintended pregnancy and abortion rates, see the fact sheet, “Greater Access to Contraception Does Not Reduce Abortions,” on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/contraception/fact-sheets/greater-access-to-contraception-does-not-reduce-abortions.cfm, accessed May 21, 2018.
4. From Table 1 in William D. Mosher, Ph.D.; Jo Jones, Ph.D.; and Joyce C. Abma, Ph.D., “Intended and Unintended Births in the United States: 1982–2010,” National Health Statistics Reports, 55, July 24, 2012, www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr055.pdf, accessed March 2018.
5. Joerg Dreweke, op. cit.
6. “The likelihood of failure for any method use declined from 14.9% to 10.3% during this period [from 1995 to 2006–2010]” (Guttmacher Institute, “Failure Rates for the Most Common Contraceptive Methods Have Improved,” February 24, 2017, www.guttmacher.org/news-release/2017/failure-rates-most-common-contraceptive-methods-have-improved, accessed April 18, 2018).
7. The abortion ratios declined from 23.4 per 100 births to 21.0 (CDC), or from 28.5 to 26.8 (Guttmacher/CDC, author’s calculation – see footnote 1, above), from 2008 to 2012.
8. William D. Mosher, Ph.D., and Jo Jones, Ph.D., “Use of Contraception in the United States: 1982–2008,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_23/sr23_029.pdf, p. 15.
9. Jo Jones, Ph.D.; William Mosher, Ph.D.; and Kimberly Daniels, Ph.D., “Current Contraceptive Use in the United States, 2006–2010, and Changes in Patterns of Use Since 1995,” National Health Statistics Reports, No. 60, October 18, 2012, www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr060.pdf, p. 11. A more recent, short-term study found that “the rate of unintended pregnancy among women and girls 15 to 44 years of age declined by 18%, from 54 per 1000 in 2008 to 45 per 1000 in 2011,” and that “the percentage of unintended pregnancies that ended in abortion remained stable during the period studied (40% in 2008 and 42% in 2011)” (Lawrence B. Finer, Ph.D., and Mia R. Zolna, M.P.H., “Declines in Unintended Pregnancy in the United States, 2008–2011,” New England Journal of Medicine, March 3, 2016, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1506575, accessed April 18, 2018). Even if their assessment is correct, and that is debatable, the time-frame is very short; abortion ratios were declining for decades before this period.
10. The annual numbers of openings of new pregnancy help centers were provided to the author by Jor-El Godsey, President of Heartbeat International, in March of 2018. The figures were aggregated in 2014. The author is responsible for the chart above. The graph does not indicate the number of centers in existence, as some proportion, perhaps 1 in 20, may have closed each year. The growth is impressive, in any case.
11. “Attitudes About Abortion,” compiled by Karlyn Bowman and Heather Sims, AEI Public Opinion Studies, January 2017, www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/ABORTION.pdf, accessed April 19, 2018.
12. Ibid., p. 3.
13. Charlotte Lozier Institute, May 23, 2018, https://lozierinstitute.org/how-the-legal-status-of-abortion-impacts-abortion-rates/, accessed June 12, 2018.
14. “Analyzing the Effect of Anti-Abortion U.S. State Legislation in the Post-Casey Era,” State Politics and Policy Quarterly, 2011, 11(1), p. 37, http://www.lifetechconference.org/slides/2012/New_2012_Handout_2.pdf, accessed June 12, 2018.
15. “Using Natural Experiments to Analyze the Impact of State Legislation on the Incidence of Abortion,” Catholic Social Science Review, 2009, 14: pp. 339–362, https://www.heritage.org/marriage-and-family/report/using-natural-experiments-analyze-the-impact-state-legislation-the; accessed June 12, 2018.
17. Using figures from the CDC Abortion Surveillance reports for those years.
18. New, “Using Natural Experiments to Analyze the Impact of State Legislation on the Incidence of Abortion."
19. Jones and Jerman, op. cit. The qualifier, “no strong evidence,” invites the query, “How strong is the evidence?”
20. See the chart from the Guttmacher Institute, in the text below, for the years 2011 to 2014.
21. Brenda Zurita, “Abortion on the wane: Pro-life laws, abstinence education making a difference,” Washington Times, February 3, 2014, www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/3/zurita-abortion-on-the-wane, accessed April 17, 2018.
22. Jones and Jerman, op. cit., p. 17.
23. Ibid., pp. 22–23.
25. Jones and Jerman, op. cit., pp. 24.
26. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books.
27. Charlotte Lozier Institute, 2014.
Chris Humphrey has been involved in pro-life activity of one kind or another since the late 1970s, when he first looked at the subject of abortion in seminary in Canada. He has an undergraduate degree in English (University of Toronto), and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in religious studies (McGill). He has had a varied career as a pastor, chaplain in a psychiatric hospital, editor of academic and instructional publications, semi-professional photographer, and home renovator. He is a husband of over 40 years to Edith (a Professor of New Testament), father to three girls, and grandfather to seventeen grandchildren. He lives and works in the Stanton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh.