After the settlement of Roe vs. Wade, the pro-life movement was able to make headway in efforts to make abortion illegal in the United States. Individuals across the country were educated by pro-life speakers through slides, pictures and talks on the personhood of the child in the womb.
Almost immediately, pro-abortionists coined the term “woman’s choice” and people began speaking about abortion as if it were one of our great American freedoms. Discussions centered on the “pro-choice/anti-choice” controversy and drove this propaganda into the consciousness of the American mind. Abortion advocates continued promoting this misleading “choice” rhetoric and pro-lifers quickly lost ground in the abortion debate, which now focused on the “rights” of women.
To save lives, it became clear that pro-lifers needed to re-frame the debate using true and accurate language. Instead of focusing on some nebulous “choice”, HLA began to focus its educational efforts on the personhood of the preborn child and familiarize people with the cold and horrific realities of the abortion procedure and its consequences.
In 1990, HLA developed a pro-life advertising supplement to insert into Minnesota newspapers. Fundraising efforts focused on a goal to blanket the entire state. The first printed edition of She’s a Child, Not a “Choice” was inserted in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, Rochester Post Bulletin, Duluth News Tribune and Saint Cloud Times. This insertion date coincided with the January 22, 1991 anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. A few months later, the supplement was inserted into the Minneapolis StarTribune and HLA expanded distribution to cover every daily and as many weekly newspapers in the state as possible.
The original decision to print She’s a Child, Not a “Choice” began as a form of competition to counter the popular media’s pro-abortion propaganda. Purchasing advertising space beat them at their own game.
Later in 1991, the editor of a Twin Cities based weekly newspaper agreed to insert the supplement in his national newspaper at no cost. The circulation of this paper was 35,000 and She’s a Child, not a “Choice” suddenly became the pro-life national print media. A California copywriter’s agent called to congratulate HLA on a marvelous new pro-life tool and asked if we had considered inserting it into college newspapers. Since college-age women comprise the largest percentage of those having abortions, the suggestion made perfect sense.
HLA was thrilled when Minnesota’s largest daily newspaper, the Minneapolis StarTribune, with a known pro-abortion editorial staff, accepted the insert. However, the struggle to get that project approved didn’t compare to the problems encountered at the University of Minnesota’s student newspaper. This student paper—like most others—was run by student editors who were accountable to no one. Following the suggestion to focus on college campuses, HLA volunteers approached the editors and ad managers of the Minnesota Daily requesting insertion. Their lawyers went over the supplement with a fine-tooth comb, as had the legal counsel for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press and the Minneapolis StarTribune. When they found no reason to turn it down, She’s a Child, Not a “Choice” went to the University of Minnesota. Months after distribution, campus-wide debate continued.
At the same time, HLA’s new advertising supplement took nationwide campuses like Harvard, Carnegie-Mellon, UCLA, Stanford and UC-Berkeley by storm and was a big hit with students and supporters alike.
Soon the California chapter of HLA made contacts to begin circulating a Spanish version of She’s a Child, Not a “Choice”. 125,000 supplements were inserted in La Opinion—the nation’s largest Spanish language newspaper. Since that first printing, HLA Spanish language supplements have been distributed around the world.
In October 1994, HLA mailed She’s a Child, Not a “Choice” to one million residents of the Twin Cities metropolitan area in cooperation with Pro-life Action Ministries. “Project Truth” generated a tremendous response of phone calls and letters that thanked us for giving the public this information.
More recent successes include defeating anti-life legislation in countries such as Uruguay and Bolivia in 2004. In 2009 HLA printed its first Canadian edition for use exclusively on college campuses in Canada. Distribution of 20,000 copies of Ella es una niña no una “opción” prompted parliament in the Dominican Republic to amend their constitution stating, “the right to life is inviolable from conception until death.”
For 45-plus years, HLA has produced strong, effective, life-saving materials—reaching young people on our nation’s campuses and around the world—spreading the truth about human life and the evils of abortion. Surveys show that the most commonly cited reason for the increasingly pro-life views of young people is the acceptance of pro-lifers’ strategy in reframing the national debate, shifting the emphasis away from the “choice” of a mother to the rights of the preborn child. This has been a key tenant of HLA’s strategy for many years—beginning with the She’s a Child, not a “Choice” campaign.