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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Online organization connects women with crisis pregnancy centerscomment (0)

January 16, 2014


Online organization connects women with crisis pregnancy centers

The positive pregnancy test sent Brittany’s life into a tailspin. She had plans — college, career and, potentially, the Miss Pennsylvania pageant. 

Her boyfriend Andy, a fellow student at California University of Pennsylvania, had pro football aspirations. The couple considered themselves pro-life but when they were confronted with an unplanned, life-altering pregnancy, all options were on the table.

Their Internet queries ranged from searches for free ultrasounds to abortion clinics. 

Tech-savvy businesses wrangle their way to the top, or at least the first page, of those searches. With enough money, for-profit abortion providers and Planned Parenthood can do the same, leaving nonprofit crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) at a disadvantage in getting their message before desperate women. 

Brittany and Andy’s Web search gave them options not available just a few years ago. 

There among the hits and advertisements for abortion services was an ad for a CPC offering free ultrasounds. The cash-strapped couple made an appointment, and their daughter was saved.

Using its marketing and technology expertise, an organization called Online For Life (OFL) is turning Internet searches for abortion services into encounters with 50 life-affirming pregnancy centers in 23 states. No longer will Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers be the only results at the top of a page when a person types “abortion clinic” in the Google search bar.

Drawing on the expertise of professionals in the business and technology industries, OFL has developed cutting-edge online marketing techniques to direct abortion-minded women to CPCs and their life-affirming message.

Working from a base in Florida in 2007, OFL co-founder Brian Fisher and his cohorts tested the idea of online marketing for pregnancy centers. 

“We’re business guys, and we test things so we can maximize the number of babies we save,” Fisher said. 

One of the elements of the strategy is a smartphone application that asks followers to pray at the exact moment a woman is researching abortion. Being able to pray in real time for a woman considering abortion has powerful potential, Fisher said. “When you have that many people interceding, you’re going to have babies saved,” he said.

The first OFL baby was rescued on June 21, 2010, and that reality crashed over Fisher in a wave of gratitude to God. All of the hard work and dedication wrought a priceless reward — the life of a baby rescued and a mother saved from the heartache of abortion.

“That’s our baby,” declared Lori Szala, executive director of Pregnancy Resource Center South Hills in Pittsburgh.

One of three CPCs involved in the 2007 test project, the Pittsburgh center became the first CPC in the nation to affiliate with Online For Life, and the partnership has proven invaluable. 

For a monthly fee, the Pittsburgh center partners with OFL to get the clinic’s foot in the marketing door. That has translated into a 75 percent increase in inquiries from abortion-minded women, Szala reported.

OFL works with 50 CPCs in 23 states to direct women in crisis to their affiliated centers as quickly as possible. Research indicates 80 percent of the Internet traffic OFL monitors is on mobile devices. That puts a woman just one tap away from an abortion provider or a life-affirming pregnancy center.

Tim Gerwing, OFL vice president of technology, called OFL an extension of a pregnancy center’s ministry.

“Our goal is to get her talking to a pregnancy resource center as fast as possible,” Gerwing said. “It’s like a 911 call. Clearly she’s shopping for an abortion.”

As a result, staff at CPCs have been retrained to counsel women on the phone. Szala said getting callers to calm down and think clearly is the greatest challenge. Once that is done, the counselor details the options available, including a visit to the CPC. Callers are told in the initial conversation the center does not provide abortions or abortion referrals.

Gerwing said it is gratifying to be a part of that connection. From its Dallas office, OFL connects scared, panicked, vulnerable women to “people willing to love and care for [them] in the name of Christ.” 

For more information, visit onlineforlife.org.

(Compiled from BP stories)

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