10/9/2012 9:21:00 AM Website helps women 'stand up' for life
Standupgirl.com offers education, support and resources for women facing pregnancy.
Unplanned pregnancies can make women of all ages feel scared, overwhelmed or alone. That’s totally normal, and the women who volunteer with Standupgirl.com know this firsthand. They can empathize because they too have chosen life even when pregnancies threaten to turn their worlds upside-down.
When the site was launched in 2000, it only got a thousand hits a month. Now that site is up to 2 million visitors each year, and growing. Nearly 200,000 people a month visit the site and remain for an average of 15 minutes.
It started with a brainstorm session in 1999 during a board meeting.
“The education foundation of Oregon Right to Life was considering how to reach the younger generation with the message of respect for life,” said Lynda Harrington, development director for the Stand Up Girl Foundation. “We were looking at an expensive television campaign that would have cost a million bucks and been over in a month.”
But a forward-thinking board member piped up, “What about a website?” “At that time, some of the board member didn’t even know what a website was,” Harrington said.
All that has changed.
Funds are raised so the organization can spend upwards of $10,000 each month in Google advertising, which keeps standupgirl.com in the top five sites that appear when someone types the word, “abortion.”
“If you type in the word ‘abortion’ there are millions of sites, and finding Stand Up Girl would be like finding a needle in a haystack,” Harrington said.
As development director for the Stand Up Girl Foundation, Harrington’s job is to coordinate benefit dinners all over the state that help pay for site operations.
In a testimonial on the Stand Up Girl Foundation site, Archbishop John Vlazny said women like Harrington are making a difference in the cause for life.
“Life-affirming strategies like this are so important in our efforts to change minds and hearts about the dignity of every single human life,” he said.
“Often, young women who find themselves pregnant don’t know where to go for help,” said Harrington. To solve this problem, the website has a new feature: Girls enter their zip code and are referred to the nearest resource centers in their area.
Harrington said the most touching moments are when they receive a note from a pregnant woman who had originally planned to abort, but was swayed by the inspiration and information on the Stand Up Girl website. “Nine months later, we may receive baby pictures,” Harrington said.
A blog answers questions. A recent entry goes in depth on morning sickness. Over at Stand Up Girl’s Facebook page, girls can read the regular “Mom to be question of the day,” or peruse “Dear Becky” letters from other young women who are facing the same decisions and challenge.
Anyone with an iPhone can download the Standupgirl.com app by searching “Stand up girl,” or young women who do not have data packages can text “Pregnant” to 313131 to have their questions answered, or to receive support.
Podcasts and videos are spaces for a little bit of gossip about the glitterati, like reality television star Kourtney Kardashian's unplanned pregnancy and movie trailers from films that tackle the sensitive subject, like Juno or Bella.
Moderated online forums give girls a place to chat and ask questions under topics like “Personal experiences,” “Pregnancy questions and symptoms,” and even “Parent Talk- advice and support for moms” and the “Guy Zone,” where dads can have a say too.
One theme runs throughout the site and all of its social media manifestations: There are stories everywhere about women of all ages choosing to have their babies instead of choosing abortion.
Even though it sometimes comes with travail, choosing life is worth it, said Becky, who responds on the site to the girls’ many comments and questions. She got pregnant at age 21 just as her difficult marriage started unraveling.
“Being a mom is the greatest thing I've ever done,” she said. “I do not for one second regret my decision to keep my baby. She brings me so much joy! I know 100 percent that I could not live with myself if I had made a different decision.”