February 28, 2013, ( – A new study commissioned by the Vitae Foundation has taken a careful scientific approach to identify what drives women's decisions to keep their child, place a child in adoption or abort one’s child. The study has determined what influences that decision, which women are most reachable, what message is most likely to reach them and from whom vulnerable women would like to hear that message.

Instead of focusing on swaying public opinion, this study focuses on reaching abortion-vulnerable women with a message that will support their instincts to protect their children rather than forfeit their lives to abortionists.

The study itself is replete with empathy-arousing, first-person descriptions of the anxieties, emotions and logic – sometimes legitimate, often irrational – of women faced with surprise pregnancies. And that empathy, the study finds, is necessary to reach women and help them through a troubled pregnancy.


First, the study distinguishes the abortion-minded woman – whose conflicts, the study describes, “focus more on self-identity issues than on right and wrong” – from the abortion vulnerable woman, who feels more guilt and is more concerned with “right and wrong” than the abortion-minded woman.

Among the abortion-vulnerable are women who are aware of the humanity of their child in utero. The study concluded that “women who believe that abortion is murder and yet choose to abort will suffer guilt and regret for the rest of their lives.” This bolsters the study’s claim of the importance for post-abortion ministries such as Rachel’s Vineyard and Project Rachel.

When it comes to preventing abortions, the study recommends that pro-life efforts focus on abortion-vulnerable above abortion-minded women with a “strong need to preserve their character” and believe they are “good people who do the right thing.”

This is where the study’s “Psychological Kernel” comes into play. The study’s authors, Charles T. Kenny, Ph.D. and Paul Swope, conclude: “Women carry an unwanted pregnancy to term when guilt wins out over shame, when they feel that the pregnancy will not end their own current and future selves, and that the unborn will be better off alive than dead.” Thus, they deduce that pro-life messaging and marketing must focus on overcoming the shame women feel of an “unplanned pregnancy” with the lifelong consequences they will feel after aborting their own children.

Part of their finding is identifying the best messenger, which the researchers identified as “The Admired Woman.” She is “non-judgmental, caring, compassionate, a good listener, encouraging, has overcome obstacles in her life, is approachable and manages her life effectively.”

“Some also say that the admired woman does not give unwanted advice,” the authors gently add. 

The Vitae Foundation has already implemented their findings into their marketing and training efforts.

A recent TV ad the organization developed showcases the findings of their study:

[African-American woman standing alone, in great distress (Voiceover) “That was me when I found out I was pregnant. I really lost it. My boyfriend wanted me to have an abortion. My parents, they sent me mixed signals. Everybody knew what I should do, except for me. Then I talked to some people I didn’t even know. They were kind, caring and compassionate. They helped me make a choice I can live with [shows young child playing in front of her]. And maybe they can help you too. Call them today.”

Reaching the right people with a convincing pro-life message is of prime importance to pro-life advocates. Much of the movement’s time and money is spent developing talking points and material with which to lobby Congress, social media campaigns to bypass the pro-abortion stalemate in the mainstream media, and literature to put in the hands of college students. The impressive messaging and marketing efforts have gone a long way to confront the average citizen with the reality of abortion, despite his ignorance and apathy.

The results of the study, the Vitae Foundation promises, will not only be of use for ad campaigns, but for pregnancy care center counselors, public speakers, educators, pro-life literature, health care professionals, fundraising and marketing, and for the average man or woman acting as a confidant to an abortion-vulnerable friend or family member.