Is your website too... pro-life?
by Jay Hobbs, Heartbeat International Director of Communications and Marketing
As the Internet age progresses, the need to craft just the right language for websites continues to grow.
Since there are very few “textbook rules,” well-meaning individuals and groups with the same goals—and even a true desire for cooperation—often misunderstand each other or misdiagnose a disconnect between belief and approach.
This can often be the case with friends within the pro-life movement, who challenge client-facing websites that include information on abortion procedures, artificial birth control methods, and abortifacients such as the morning-after pill.
First, two things to know about client-facing websites:
- The language used should always be accurate, in keeping withOur Commitment of Care and Competence, a national code of ethical practice adopted by the Leadership Alliance of Pregnancy Care Organizations and the major pregnancy center affiliating organizations.
- The language chosen is not intended to persuade, but instead to engage a woman with accurate information and invite her to connect with a local pregnancy help organization.
Determining the real goal
The first question to ask when designing website language is,“What is its intended purpose?” We must ask this question, because by their very nature, websites have a limited scope of impact.
A website’s goal determines the choice of wording, as well as the selection of graphics, layout, and design. Even the choice of URL (i.e. “www.SiteName.com”) is determined by the website’s overall goal. The goal also determines the specific information chosen for a website, which we call “tone.”
What is the goal of our client-facing websites? We want to engage a woman who may be at-risk for abortion and connect her with a pregnancy help organization. Only then can we provide the caring, personal relationship she needs. In other words, a client-facing website should be a gateway for a woman to enter through and find real-time,face-to-face help. We believe this interaction is irreplaceable, and we see the evidence of this on a regular basis.
Understanding our audience
A woman experiencing a difficult pregnancy is looking for options. Our language must be open enough to make her to pick up the phone, start a chat, or send an email. We know that the best decision is an informed decision. But she needs information tailored to meet her in her unique situation, which a website cannot do by itself.
In the end, the best outcome is for each woman to encounter life-affirming help in a personal way. PHOs embrace her with care and compassion to unpack the realities she may be contemplating. Web language that is open and neutral makes that possible.
Many websites oppose abortion, and just as many promote abortion services or ideals. Even when this type of direct-language website functions effectively, the option for real, live, compassionate pregnancy help counseling is forfeited. What a tragic loss for a woman wrestling through an unexpected pregnancy.