By Celine Klosterman
Next time people in the Quad-Cities catch an episode of “Jerry Springer” or “The Young and the Restless,” they might hear a more Christian message than expected.
Three Catholics are working with the pro-life Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf to continue airing pro-life TV commercials in the Quad-City area. The ads have run since April 22 and will continue airing through June 22, but the Catholics hope to raise funds to keep them on TV for a year, Brian Porter says. He spearheaded efforts to air the commercials and belongs to St. Joseph Parish in DeWitt. Scott Seele of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City and Joe Flanders of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine also are promoting the commercials.
“The more you run these commercials, the more babies you’re going to save,” Porter says.
VirtueMedia, a Georgia-based organization, produced the ads and airs them during TV shows watched by its target demographic. A schedule given to the Women’s Choice Center lists shows including “Scrubs,” “90210,” “Divorce Court,” “Jerry Springer,” “The Young and the Restless,” and “Gossip Girl,” as well as networks MTV, Lifetime and Bravo.
The commercials take various pro-life angles. One 30-second ad shows several women expressing anxiety over unplanned pregnancies and ends by listing a pregnancy hotline, Web site and, in the Quad-Cities, the name of the Women’s Choice Center. The Web site and pregnancy hotline direct women to the closest crisis pregnancy center; several such centers exist in the Quad-Cities.
In another 30-second ad, images of people vanish to reflect what the ad says are the 30 percent of U.S. lives lost to abortion since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973.
Another commercial likens disregard for an unborn baby’s humanity to disregard for the humanity of people of different races, faiths, ages and physical abilities.
VirtueMedia says it costs $5,000 to run the ads for a month.
Vicki Tyler, Women’s Choice Center director, says one woman has so far cited a VirtueMedia commercial when she came to the center, but more women could have been directed to other Quad-City-area crisis pregnancy centers. A promotional letter for the ad campaign says that after commercials ran in Des Moines in September and October 2008, more than 500 women called the pregnancy hotline advertised.
Still, Porter says one of the ads’ goals is simply to influence people’s opinions. “We know the media is very powerful in swaying people’s thought processes.”
Prayer and that belief inspired Porter, who works in sales and marketing for Lamco Slings & Rigging in Moline, Ill., to launch efforts in December 2008 to air the commercials locally. “I think Jesus said, ‘You’re a marketing guy; I need your help over here,’” he says.
Flanders, who Porter worked with to set up Catholic radio stations in DeWitt and Clinton, and Seele offered to help, too. The parishioners have organized presentations given to Catholic and Protestant churches and Knights of Columbus to try to raise funds for the ads. VirtueMedia says 100 percent of donations go toward airing commercials.
To donate, write to the Women’s Choice Center, PO Box 549, Bettendorf, IA 52722. Make checks payable to the Women’s Choice Center ad campaign. Porter says he’ll match four donations of $250.
To watch the commercials, visit www.virtuemedia.org.