By Sandy Hentges
For more than 23 years, since its birth, the Vitae Foundation has been fighting two battles – first and most prominent, is the fight to end abortion and build a culture which embraces human life. The second, equal in its own right, the strategy we use to reach pregnant women and get them help and support.
We have many allies in the fight to end abortion. But, when it comes to our Right-Brain research approach in messaging to women in a crisis pregnancy, the troops begin to dwindle. Vitae’s research has taught us to reach out to women and focus entirely on them and their situation. The messages must be about the woman and calming her fears, not about her baby, religion or the shame of abortion. We know women will be more willing to receive information once they feel safe and respected.
Now, after six Right-Brain research studies by Vitae, several articles on the subject, much debate and a seventh research study about to get underway, it seems Right-Brain strategies are becoming more and more understood, accepted, and shared among pro-life groups, Pregnancy Help Centers, and publications like The Human Life Review.
In March of this year, the Review published an article written by Maria McFadden Maffucci. In the article, Maffucci covers a lot of pro-life history and specifically hones in on the research, strategy, and effectiveness of Right-Brain research, applied by the Vitae Foundation.
The six studies for Vitae conducted by Dr. Charles Kenny, founder of The Right Brain People® (1972), showed women who were faced with an unexpected pregnancy were fearful of losing their identity and their future because of the pregnancy. They viewed abortion as the least of three evils, the worst being adoption and the second, keeping the baby.
The conclusion of the research is summarized by Vitae Founder Carl Landwehr, “Both sides in the abortion debate aim through advertising to ‘manage women’s fear.’ The pro-abortion side tries to exacerbate it, we try to remove it. Have you ever tried to replace fear with logic? It doesn’t work.”
Paul Swope, who worked for Vitae in the 1990’s, authored an article in 1998 entitled “Abortion: A Failure to Communicate.” This transformative article discussed the Right-Brain research, Vitae’s strategy and the results of the outreach to women. He noted impressive results showing abortion rates dropping in all the states airing Vitae ads. Swope’s article received a fair amount of criticism from other pro-life groups.
Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute said in the 1999 Christian Research Journal that this focus on the woman would “promote the vice of selfishness instead of the virtue of sacrificial motherhood.”
However, in 2013, Swope and Kenny published an article together in American Thinker: “A New Understanding of the Trauma of Abortion.” In the article Swope and Kenny concluded: “Women carry an unwanted pregnancy to term when guilt wins out over shame, when they feel the pregnancy will not end their own current or future selves, and that the unborn will be better off alive than dead.”
In her article Marffucci’s conclusion is the best news of all. “The Vitae Foundation is one of many effective and varied pro-life organizations working to turn the tide after Roe, with undeniable results. Last November, the CDC released its national abortion report, saying that the number of abortions in the U.S. has declined to an ‘historic low.’ Where 33 percent of pregnancies used to end in abortion, it’s now 18 percent.”
Together we are winning!