But What Can I Do About It?

by Jay Johansen
Pregnant Pause Home Taking Action Search this site

Perhaps you are pro-life, but you ask yourself, What can I do about it? I'm just one person, I'm not a big politician, I'm not rich, I'm not famous, I can't give speeches.

Well, there are many things you can do, some easy, some difficult.

  1. Perhaps the easiest thing to do is: vote.

    Find out where the candidates stand on abortion and other life issues, and vote for candidates who are pro-life. This costs you nothing, and doesn't even take much of your time. But it is absolutely crucial. Every year we study polls and find that many people who call themselves pro-life nevertheless voted for pro-abortion candidates. Perhaps they thought some other issue was more important? But what could be more important than defending innocent lives? Often people just don't take the time to find out where the candidates stand, or don't bother to vote at all.

  2. Give money.

    So okay, maybe you were waiting for that one. It seems like everyone and his brother is asking for your money. But really, giving a modest amount is not very difficult. You don't have to give to my organization, Pregnant Pause, though of course we'd appreciate it. There are many good pro-life organizations out there.

    Let's face it, everything costs money. Even if an organization has no paid staff at all, there is still rent, phone bills, printing costs, advertising, etc etc. (No one is getting rich doing pro-life work. No one I know, anyway. If you know an organization willing to pay even market rates for a pro-life Windows programmer, let me know.) The largest check I have ever signed in my life was for $30,000. It was for postage for a pro-life mailing. Even the cost of stamps adds up.

    You don't have to give thousands of dollars. I used to be treasurer of a pro-life Political Action Committee, and I once calculated that the average contribution we received was $18. A pro-life organization here in Ohio once received a contribution consisting of a dollar bill and a few coins. It was probably the most generous contribution I have ever seen: A note in the envelope said, "Please use this to help babies", and for the return address on the envelope was written simply "Homeless".

    The pro-aborts receive millions of dollars in government grants and contributions from big foundations and corporations. Pro-lifers get very little of this "big money", we rely on small contributions from average people who care and are willing to make a small sacrifice.

  3. Write letters.

    Surveys routinely show that one of the most widely read sections of the newspaper is the letters-to-the-editor.

    Write to politicians, urging them to vote pro-life. Find out about specific bills. This makes your letter sound better informed, makes it more relevant, and also makes it tougher for the politician to waffle. It's easy to play "moderate" until a specific bill comes along that requires a straight yes or no vote.

    Write to companies that give money to pro-abortion causes and organizations. Explain to them that you are very concerned about the idea of the money you spend on their products going to such a cause. Most companies are very skittish about offending their customers. An acquaintance of mine who is a stock broker urges a variation on this: buy some stock in the company, and then write to them as a shareholder concerned that management's policies may offend customers, and hurt the value of your investment. (Life Decisions International is an excellent source of information on such companies.)

  4. Volunteer

    Pro-life organizations need all kinds of help. Look them up in the phone book, call them, and ask when meetings are. Then show up at a meeting. Odds are they'll be overjoyed to see you.

    Right to Life is probably the biggest pro-life organization in the country, and one that works primarily through the grass roots. Concerned Women for America also has a grass roots network. There may be smaller, local organizations in your area.

    What can you do for such an organization? Well, how about ...

  5. Help with clerical work.

    It's kind of funny, but it seems that great social movements tend to turn into folding little pieces of paper and putting stamps on envelopes.

    Pro-life organizations regularly must mail out newsletters, send thank-you notes to donors, clip and file newspaper and magazine articles, count politicians' votes, etc etc etc. Paperwork is not very exciting or glamarous, but the essence of this struggle is public opinion, which means that collecting and publishing information is essential.

  6. Participate in rallies and demonstrations.

    Organized rallies help to keep the issue in front of the public, and to show politicians and other civic leaders that far more people are pro-life than the media would have them believe.

    With most human activities, we try to get the job done with as few people as possible. Every new technology is supposed to make it possible for one person to do the job that used to take three. But with rallies, success is measured simply by how many people show up. So any time there's a rally, we need warm bodies.

    This is normally very easy. Just show up at the appointed time, hang around for an hour or so, maybe listen to some speeches or hold a sign, and go home. I suppose it takes some courage to stand up publicly, but that's about all there is to it.

  7. Help out at a crisis pregnancy center.

    The single biggest piece of the pro-life movement today, in terms of time and money invested, is the crisis pregnancy centers. If you are not familiar with these, they are places where a woman with an unplanned pregnancy can go to receive a variety of assistance. They offer services such as counseling, baby food and formula, baby and maternity clothes, and information on pre-natal care. Some have doctors or nurses available for more serious medical needs. All these services are either done by volunteers or paid for with contributions -- I don't know of any CPC that charges the pregnant woman anything.

    This is a wonderful, positive way to make life-affirming choices as practical as possible. But it also requires a huge amount of work. Volunteers are constantly needed. This primarily means various types of counselors and people to help with sorting and storing all the "baby stuff".

  8. Organize events.

    If you want to be a little more ambitious, take the lead. Don't just show up at somebody else's event: help organize and run it.

    It takes far more work than you might at first think to organize an event. Depending on the type of event, you might have to do things like line up speakers, make arrangements with a hotel or convention center, advertise, get permits, print program books, the list goes on and on. All of this requires people who are willing to take some initiative and responsibility.

  9. Run for office.

    A major goal of the pro-life movement is, of course, to change some of our nation's laws. Ultimately, this means having pro-life people in public office. Why not you?

    If that sounds totally unrealistic, ask yourself, Why? No one expects you to start out by running for president. But what about your city council, school board, or county auditor? Local offices don't normally require huge campaign budgets. They are often not hard fought. In many places, there is a scramble every election to find anyone interested in running for some of these offices -- just getting your name on the ballot gives you a good chance of winning. Then you work your way up.

  10. Find your niche.

    This list is far from complete. The pro-life movement today is so large that any special talent you have might well be put to use. A gentleman in my home town who owns a printing company recently made and donated some very nice signs and banners for a pro-life booth at a county fair. An amateur photographer took pictures at a rally to be used in the flyers for the next year's rally. Personally, I develop computer systems for a living, so I've found my niche running a pro-life Internet Web site.

    Even if you cannot think of any pro-life use for your particular talents, you can always help out with things that require more hard work than specialized skill. Thomas Edison once said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

    Perhaps you have no idea what you could do that would be useful. But you don't have to. Contact a local pro-life organization, and ask them where they need help. Odds are they'll have a long list.

Find something useful to do. Then do it.

Pregnant Pause Home Taking Action Search this site

Posted 9 Sep 2000.

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