Will Facebook Turn More Americans Pro-Life?

Matthew Faraci has has noticed a trend among his Facebook friends.

“There’s a trend now when somebody has an ultrasound—and particularly the 3-D ultrasound that’s kind of new and innovative. People will tend to post that as their Facebook status,” said Faraci, vice president of communications and marketing for Americans United For Life (AUL). “That’s what most people do to announce they’re pregnant … among their friends and their peers.”

Right now, it’s only a theory, Faraci said, but he thinks having those images posted on Facebook may impact on how the younger generation views the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate.

“You see the image of the baby right up there on the Facebook page,” Faraci said.

The social networking developments come as polls show young Americans are increasing becoming more pro-life.  A February poll conducted for the Knights of Columbus showed that 58% of Millenials (ages 18-29) labeled abortion as morally wrong. A March Gallup poll showed that for the second straight year, more Americans are identifying themselves as pro-life.

Though Facebook itself can’t be credited for the trend, it’s a way to spread pictures like ultrasound images, which have been shown to influence people to become more pro-life.

Kelly Rosati is the senior director for the Sanctity of Human Life at Focus on the Family. Through their Option Ultrasound, they’ve been able to save an estimated 81,000 babies. They’ve also found that women are 60% more likely to choose to carry babies through term when they see ultrasounds and receive counseling than when just counseling is used.

However, Lisa Penney, who is a client services assistant at a CareNet pregnancy services branch in Illinois, said clients haven’t mentioned being influenced by an ultrasound on Facebook. But Penney added many of the women are still fairly early into the pregnancy, so their ultrasound pictures don’t look as “postable.”

“I think it’s part of a general rise in awareness of ultrasound pictures,” Penney said of the pictures being posted on Facebook.

Penney said they’ve done Facebook advertising on and off for over a year, but only about a handful of girls have come in saying they found CareNet through ads on Facebook. However, Penney says the ads are geared more to creating an affiliation between pregnancy help and CareNet, so that when a girl needs assistance, she remembers the name. 

“Advertising on Facebook doesn’t necessarily result in a lot of immediate clients coming in,” Penney said. “It’s hard to say exactly if the increase we’ve seen in pregnancy tests and ultrasounds is truly related to the Facebook advertising, because I think they’re coming in a roundabout way from that.”

She said their ads are generally ambiguous rather than proselytizing a pro-life message.

It’s the non-political aspect that Faraci believes drew people to support Tim Tebow’s pro-life ad with Focus on the Family during the Super Bowl. When critics asked that the ad be taken off the air, AUL started a Facebook page with LifeNews.com in support of what Focus was doing.

“We were blown away by the response online,” said Faraci. “In two weeks, close to 275,000 people joined this page … but it’s not like we put a lot of advertising money into it.”

Faraci said the page is still active and has 258,000 members. Life News will often publish pro-life updates on the page, and people are still commenting.

“It talked about the pro-life issue in a non-political way that really resonated with people,” Faraci said of the ad.

And as technology continues improving, the pro-life community may have even more powerful images at their disposal. Rosati pointed out a new iPad application called Hello Baby-Pregnancy Calendar which tracks the development of an unborn baby week by week “at simulated life-size.”

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