Shortly after its inception and under the leadership of Carl Landwehr and key advisors, Vitae began to identify the need for fresh dialogue among those involved in the abortion debate. It seemed as if the methods in public discourse on the issue that were applied after Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973 were becoming increasingly ineffective. Vitae had already identified mass communications as the vehicle for its message, but it was at this time that they were put into contact with Dr. Charles Kenny of The Right Brain People®, commissioning him with their first research study to determine exactly what that message should be.
The Right Brain People® use their proprietary Right Brain Research methodology to understand the emotional factors that determine decisions. Specific to Vitae’s mission of encouraging a culture of life through mass communications, Dr. Kenny and his team were asked to help us better understand the psychological dynamics that motivate women to feel the way they do about abortion. An additional objective was to learn how to better communicate with those who may support abortion as a solution to an unwanted or untimely pregnancy and move them to a more life-affirming position.
A communication strategy was birthed from this initial study that resulted in a complete paradigm shift within our own Pro-life arena. Gone was the often politically-charged rhetoric, absent the accusatory undertones. This new approach was to be woman-centered and non-confrontational, while inviting audiences to think critically about the issue. A summarization of the research findings entitled “Abortion: A Failure to Communicate” was published in the April 1998 edition of First Things magazine.
Following the success of the first project, the Vitae Foundation commissioned The Right Brain People® to conduct a second research project with women who had been through an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy. In this project they interviewed women who chose abortion, those who delivered and are raising their children and women who placed their children for adoption.
The goal of this research project was to understand the Psychological Dynamics that shaped respondents' final decisions to choose abortion, adoption or to keep the child. The findings led to a revolutionary understanding of how women deal with an unwanted pregnancy. A short summarization of the research findings, A New Understanding of the Trauma of Abortion were published in the February 21, 2013 issue of American Thinker. This project was the first time that any in-depth qualitative research had been conducted with women who made one of these three decisions. The discoveries from this project have guided the communication and the development of messaging for media ads by the Vitae Foundation. A full version of the article, A New Understanding of the Trauma of Abortion, may be found here.
In addition to other quantitative and qualitative research conducted by Vitae, together with Dr. Kenny, Vitae has continued to research the motivators that drive women’s decisions about pregnancy and influence how they react emotionally to either a personal, unplanned/unwanted pregnancy or to the unplanned/unwanted pregnancy of a friend or family member.