Regaining lost ground: Prolifers on the net

04 Feb 2009

By The Record

Harnessing the power of the internet is something that most pro-life organisations have yet to learn.


By Darren Sproats

A 17-year-old girl discovers she is pregnant. She is no longer dating
her boyfriend and feels scared and alone. Rather than turn to her
parents for advice and support, she logs onto Google and searches for
‘unplanned pregnancy’. The websites she finds will heavily influence
whether or not she continues with her pregnancy.
What is the outcome of her searching? At the time of writing, not one
of the websites presented will encourage her to keep her unborn child.
In fact, seven of the first ten results are links to abortion providers
or websites supported by pro-choice organisations (eg, Marie Stopes
International). Similar results are produced for searches on ‘abortion
help’ and ‘abortion information’.
Pro-choice organisations are vitally aware of the importance of the
internet in a pregnant woman’s decision making process. For example,
Marie Stopes International opened their online ‘abortion information
chat service’ after feedback showed that “when it comes to seeking out
information on sexual health services, women have nominated the
internet as their second preferred avenue for information after their
As it stands today, the pro-choice movement is winning the abortion
war. By moving with the times and harnessing the power of the internet,
these organisations are ensuring their message is heard.

Regaining Lost Ground: Investing Online
For pro-life organisations, a dramatic shift in campaigning priorities
is required. It is no longer enough to simply publish a template-driven
website, created by an untrained operator, and then direct all
attention to ‘taking action on the streets’. Funds need to be invested
online, which one could say is now the ‘frontline’ in this war against

First impressions count: Design is important
Firstly, the website. To be taken seriously, the site should have an
appealing design and provide informative content that is easy to
navigate. It is recommended that a professional designer be engaged for
the initial development. A professional, custom website can be acquired
for as little as $1000-$2000 (depending on the number of pages
required). It will likely be the most ‘influential’ campaigning
investment the organisation ever makes.

Be Visible in Google: Implement Basic SEO Techniques
Secondly, if the website is to have any chance of being effective, it
must rank highly in the major search engines – namely, Google, Yahoo!
and nineMSN. Of these, Google is by far the most important with 88% of
the search market in Australia.
Many pro-choice organisations are well funded (e.g. and
Emily’s List). They therefore have the advantage of being able to
commission professional Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) firms.
However, it is still possible for non-profit, pro-life organisations to
rank well if they focus on implementing optimisation techniques found
by searching Google.

In this digital age, a high ranking website is worth thousands of
flyers or placards. To remain relevant, pro-life organisations must
start directing a significant proportion of campaign funds to online
initiatives – starting with a professional website that is carefully
structured to rank highly in Google.

Darren Sproats is the director of a Melbourne-based website firm.