Louisiana Billboard Campaign Helps Women Avoid Abortions

State   |   Beth Donze   |   Sep 26, 2011   |   1:48PM   |   Baton Rouge, LA

It’s an ad that instantly gets its point across: the results window of a pregnancy test stick reads “OMG!”

The arresting image, which began appearing this month on billboards along the West Bank and Earhart expressways, is part of a bold, new advertising campaign for ADifficultChoice.com, a Web site with links to 27 pregnancy resource centers across the state.

“There are all these centers and resources, they just weren’t pulled together (on one Web site),” said Dana Hammer, the impetus behind the billboards and chairwoman of Advertise for Life Louisiana, which collaborates with Louisiana Right to Life to get the word out on the state’s wide array of pro-life, crisis pregnancy services.

“There are so many centers and there are a lot of people who want to help, but there is still so much confusion about what services are out there among women facing an unplanned pregnancy,” Hammer said. “We need to put the resources and support that’s available in front of them so they can make informed decisions.”

In addition to providing users with an easy way to find pregnancy resources in their local area, the site provides video testimonials of women who have faced crisis pregnancies.

“We are so happy to be connecting citizens with over 25 pregnancy centers around the state that offer numerous compassionate and confidential services, all at no charge to the woman,” said Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life. “We know their work, along with this (advertising) campaign, will help mothers and unborn babies.”

Ideas emerge at adoration

A mother of four and a parishioner of St. Andrew the Apostle, Hammer, 40, became involved in the pro-life movement upon meeting her husband, Mike, an active advocate for the unborn since his youth.

“After praying about it and reading the Scripture, I just wanted to do more to protect these little babies that don’t have a voice,” she said.

Just weeks before Hurricane Katrina, after having an epiphany during one of his weekly adoration sessions, Mike Hammer began inviting workers and volunteers from area pregnancy crisis centers to a free monthly lunch at various restaurants. The lunches made their post-Katrina comeback in 2008, and currently attract an average of 30 people who are involved in everything from sidewalk counseling to pro-life lobbying.

“We invite pro-life speakers to come in and we encourage everybody to speak about their ministry,” Hammer said. “They had never been brought together to communicate, so (the monthly lunchtime) creates a synergy and a support for each other.”

Hammer’s husband credits weekly adoration for planting yet another idea in his head: coordination of a more visible advertising campaign to help women scared, confused or depressed over an unexpected pregnancy.

“My husband had been talking about doing billboards since I met him,” Hammer said. “About a year ago I got tired of going to the (pro-life) lunches and not doing anything, so I started meeting with advertising companies about doing a billboard.”

Working alongside Tommy Vadell of Marco Advertising in New Orleans, and Clapper of Louisiana Right to Life, Hammer kicked off the advertising campaign with the “OMG” pregnancy kit image, soliciting the permission of its Colorado creator.

“I think most people know what a pregnancy test looks like and ‘OMG’ is just something people relate to, especially people who text,” said Hammer, adding that the newly placed billboards have already inspired two young adults to sign on as pro-life volunteers. “The billboard (image) is not offensive. It’s not in your face. And I think it’s different because it’s not (an image of) the baby, or the mother with her head down.”

A third billboard will rise in downtown New Orleans on Oct. 1, followed by Facebook advertising, movie theater ads and billboards across the state.

The advertising campaign relies completely on donations, with 100 percent of proceeds going to the costs of the advertisements. To make a donation, visit www.advertiseforlife.org or call 835-6520. All are invited to learn more about the pro-life advertising initiative on Oct. 6, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at 729 Camp Street, across from St. Patrick Church in New Orleans. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served.

To learn more about the free monthly lunches for current and prospective pro-life volunteers, call Roxanne at 523-7400.

LifeNews.com Note: This article originally appeared in the Clarion Herald, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It is used with permission and the accompanying photo is courtesy of Louisiana Right to Life.