Kansas Pro-Life Billboard Campaign Gets Women Help Instead of Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Kansas Pro-Life Billboard Campaign Gets Women Help Instead of Abortions

by Martha Schieber
March 9, 2010

LifeNews.com Note: Martha Schieber is the Communications Director for Vitae Foundation. The pro-life organization has long sponsored pro-life advertising campaigns that haven been proven to reduce abortions and change public opinion.

Overland Park, KS (LifeNews.com) — When billboards went up last November in Johnson County, Barb Gosa hoped they’d see an increase in clients at her Advice and Aid Pregnancy Centers in Shawnee and Overland Park. Not only did they get an increase in clients, but the type of clients surprised her.

“It’s really exciting that God has been bringing us clients at risk for abortion,” Gosa stated. “But, we’ve had more women come to us with abortions already scheduled than we’ve ever seen!”

The billboards were part of a partnership between Advice and Aid and the Vitae Foundation. Vitae Foundation is a national organization, based in Jefferson City, Mo., that promotes a culture of life through mass communications. Vitae partners with pro-life groups and local Pregnancy Help Centers to help pregnant women know there is help in their community.

Some would say, “Be careful what you pray for…” In Gosa’s case, her Pregnancy Help Centers were ready for the results. They just didn’t think there would be women who had already made appointments to abort their child who would take the time to call someone else!

“Are they calling because maybe somewhere deep inside there is something stirring in their heart and they are having second guesses?” the pregnancy center director questioned.

It’s been one of those things Gosa didn’t expect.

“I think that all those women that had abortion appointments have not gone through with their abortions!” Gosa exclaimed.

The timing of the Vitae campaign couldn’t have come at a better time for Gosa’s centers. Advice and Aid just opened its Overland Park center in May, 2009. With little funds, her Board was trying to figure out how people were going to know that they were even there. They are in the Fox Hills Medical Building, but none of the occupants have any signs on the outside of the building.

“So we worried, ‘How are people going to find us?’ The campaign came at the perfect time to help people find us, just with that phone number on a billboard,” Gosa explained. “We have a three-year strategic plan where we’d like to reach 10,000 families. The billboard ads kicked off this goal tremendously!”

Gosa’s new Advice and Aid Center is just two buildings down from the largest abortion provider in the area and less than a mile from the only other abortion provider in Johnson County.

Many Pregnancy Help Centers keep track of the number of women they see. They try to determine what brought them there, whether it was a recommendation from a friend or advertising. Gosa said she knew a lot of women were saying they’d seen the billboards, but there just seemed to be a lot more people coming in. When she ran the numbers compared to the previous two years, she was amazed at the results.

Just looking at the difference from November and December of 2007 to 2009, the increases are striking. The number of hotline calls increased by 64 percent. The number of ultrasounds increased by 212 percent! In just one year there was a 43 percent increase in the number of pregnancy tests.

“The numbers paint an incredible picture and speak for themselves,” Gosa stated. “Our statistics also reflect that in November and December of 2009, the number of clients we saw that were identified as ‘at risk for abortion’ increased by 60 percent!”

It’s not just about numbers, though. Each one of these women who come to Advice and Aid in Overland Park and Shawnee has a story. The billboards have answered the prayers of many young women who are driving around the greater Kansas City area looking for help.

Gosa told of a mother and daughter who entered her Overland Park center one day. She had a strange feeling that something wasn’t right. Ironically, they’d been given Advice and Aid’s number from a friend, called from the road and asked, “How do we get there?” They thought they were at an abortion clinic. Gosa knew they were in the right place at the right time.

“I explained to her (the mother) who we were and she wasn’t real happy. It was an interesting thing in that while she wasn’t happy she didn’t make her daughter leave or say, ‘I want my daughter out of here right now!’” Gosa explained.

By the time the mother got ahold of the abortion clinic it was too late for them to come in that day, but she did reschedule the daughter’s abortion for the next Wednesday. Still, they didn’t leave. Gosa’s nurse was then able to give the daughter an ultrasound and counsel on fetal development.

The following Friday they called to see how the girl was doing and asked how the appointment at the abortion clinic went and the girl said, “Oh, I didn’t go to that.” She was asked how her mom felt about that and she replied: “Oh, mom’s not happy about it, but she’s just going to have to get over it. When I saw that sonogram and read the material and know that (baby’s) heart is already beating, I told my mom there is no way I’m doing that!”

Advice and Aid’s Director of Client Services, Ruth Tisdale, said she had a young girl who saw the billboard ad and was thinking about calling, when her aunt called her up and told her about the same billboard!

Both Gosa and Tisdale were surprised by another phenomenon – calls from other pro-life people who saw the billboards and were curious to find out who was behind the advertising.

“You were very cautious at first because you didn’t know who was calling. As soon as you told them we were part of a life-affirming ministry they respond: ‘I’m so glad!’” Tisdale explained. A lot of the callers didn’t even know who they were.

It’s been a shot in the arm for the volunteers and the staff when they get those calls, because even in a big city it feels like you’re fighting the fight alone, Gosa noted. “Some of those people have turned into volunteers and some have turned into donors! There are some that are just out there praying on their way to work every day. It’s been really neat!”

Advice and Aid offers a variety of services, far more than the usual pregnancy tests, sonograms, parenting classes and support groups.

“We don’t stop with our clients once they have the baby. If a woman chooses to parent, we have a program where they can stay with us for the next two years of that child’s life,” Tisdale explained.

There were 105 billboards in the Greater Kansas City area, involving five Pregnancy Help Centers in three counties. Vitae hopes to purchase more billboards in the area in 2010.

"Many committed donors answered the call and came forward making great sacrifices to fund the 2009 campaign,” Anne Carmichael noted. Carmichael is Vice President of Vitae’s Western Region. “We are hopeful that we can do it again in 2010 with even more support. It always comes down to having the money to make the buy, the pregnancy resource centers to take the calls and the right ad to direct them there."

To learn more about Vitae Foundation, go to www.vitaecaringfoundation.org.

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