It was a bit of a reunion in Washington, DC last week as U.S. Rep. Christopher Smith thanked the Vitae Foundation and its supporters for 25 years of effectively reaching out to women with “honest, thought-provoking, research-based, culture-of-life messages.”
In the early 90s, Rep. Smith, a top congressional pro-life strategist, met with a group in St. Louis that included Vitae Founder Carl Landwehr and Father Joseph Naumann (now Archbishop and the new head of the U.S. Bishops Pro-Life Committee), where the Vitae Founder explained a new vision for pro-life work that didn’t exist at that time—using media to change the culture by changing hearts and minds to a culture of life.
“Always adapting to the time, what began by Vitae as primarily TV and radio spots, has matriculated into sophisticated digital marketing,” Rep. Smith told the crowd gathered in Falls Church, Virginia. “Since the early 90s, Vitae has presented information in a highly respectful way to women contemplating abortion, at or near the critical hour of decision. And the results are breathtaking.”
But for every woman reached by these “thoughtful messages,” Smith said there are many more who never had access to them and were victimized by the abortion industry’s “false and misleading advertising propaganda.”
Vitae President Rob Rysavy told the crowd that Vitae uses 25 years of research on the abortion-minded woman to fill an unmet need.
“You know that at pregnancy centers miracles happen. A woman who is considering abortion may not know where a pregnancy center is or even know it’s an option. We make that vital connection,” Rysavy stated. “We do this so we can save lives and change the culture.”
Smith agreed with the Vitae president. “The unmet need for Vitae Foundation’s incredible outreach begs the question: Will we do more to assist? To reach more women, are we willing to double down and significantly multiply these lifesaving messages?”
Landwehr told the crowd that the pro-life movement is near a “tipping point,” and yet we don’t even know we are inching our way there. With Pregnancy Help Centers (PHCs) outnumbering abortion facilities 3-1, we need to continue to aggressively market to the woman who is pregnant yet doesn’t want to be.
“Our job is to market life better than the abortion stores market death,” Landwehr stated. “Women are coming to PHCs via digital marketing. About 70 percent of them are abortion determined. Of that demographic, 54 percent carry to term if we can get them to a PHC.”
Vitae’s philosophy, Landwehr explained, is likened to that of Wayne Gretsky. The Hall of Fame hockey player always said he didn’t skate to the puck; he skated where the puck was going.
“That’s Vitae. We look where the communication’s industry is going, and we make sure we are there, engaging women who shop online for everything from a car to an abortion,” the Vitae Founder noted.
As a 37-year veteran in Congress, Smith has spent his entire political life fighting for women and against the abortion industry. He noted his encouragement that a record number of state laws have been enacted in recent years that are designed to protect life to the maximum extent permissible under the infamous Supreme Court ruling of 1973.
There’s also a correlation to what Vitae strives to accomplish and the legislative work done in the Nation’s Capital and across the country, the co-chair of the Congressional Bipartisan Pro-Life Caucus noted.
“When hearts are changed, when culture changes, legislation moves more effectively,” the New Jersey statesman stated. “Despite laboring in this struggle for years—or decades—I believe we need a new sense of urgency.”
Even though there is a pro-life majority in both houses of Congress, albeit razor thin in the U.S. Senate, it is still difficult to get pro-life bills to the president’s desk. He highlighted several pieces of legislation that have been passed by the House, but languish in Senate committees, like Smith’s No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. This bill would end Obamacare abortion-on-demand funding and make all current pro-life appropriation riders like the Hyde Amendment permanent rather than having to be renewed every year.
Despite these being challenging times, we have reason to hope, Smith noted. More and more younger people recognize the sanctity of life. While still unconscionably high, the number of abortions procured each year is declining. First baby pictures today are of unborn children—not newborns—as birth is recognized as an event in the continuum of life, not the beginning.
“Vitae messaging is having a profound impact, changing lives forever,” Smith noted. “We are at the tipping point where we will accelerate toward a culture of life and away from a culture of death.”
Help Vitae today with a donation so we can direct more and more women in need to life-saving PHCs. This is the fuel to move us toward that tipping point Carl and Rep. Smith mentioned.