"Hi, how are you? Would you like a free ultrasound?"

Today, March 13, 2012, is an important day in the pro-life movement. Today is the day a handful of visionaries officially launch “Save the Storks,” a new kind of pro-life initiative. Kristen Walker of New Wave Feminists explains what makes it different:

Here’s what happens: a woman is walking up to an abortion clinic. She is approached by Dave or Daryl or another member of Save the Storks.

“Hi, how are you? Would you like a free ultrasound?”

This is the approach. There is no dangling rosary, no graphic pamphlet, no doom-and-gloom. Just an offer of free help from a non-threatening, friendly, smiling young person.

And then there is the Stork bus. …

It is a bright, lovely blue on the outside, and the inside is clean and free of clutter, with a welcoming but no-nonsense clinical feel. There is a little couch for the mother to sit on and speak to a counselor, and a padded bench where she can lie comfortably.

The ultrasound machine pulls out from underneath the bench. It is operated only by a licensed sonographer whose work is frequently reviewed by an OB/Gyn. In the back there is a small private toilet for pregnancy testing. It isn’t the slightest bit cramped or unpleasant; these mothers get only the best. The completed bus with the ultrasound machine was paid for by private donations to the tune of about $140,000.

The Stork bus is by no means the first mobile ultrasound vehicle — it was Chris Slattery’s mobile sonogram bus that inspired Dave and Joe in the first place — but it may be the smallest, lightest, and most practical. It doesn’t require a permit or special permission to park. It will fit in a parking space or even at a meter. …

The average clinic sidewalk approach is, of necessity, “Please don’t kill your baby. Here’s why. And here’s help.” Because they have their awesome bus, Save the Storks are able to say, “Here’s help. Now please don’t kill your baby. Here’s why.”

It’s a subtle difference — but an important one. Invitation is always more effective than admonishment. (That it’s an invitation also prevents the liberal cry that ultrasound is rape; these women are consenting!) While all sidewalk counselors invite pregnant mothers to consider all their options, “Save the Storks” presents another option in real time.

The campaign is distinctive in other ways, too. For one thing, the minds behind it are clearly creative. From the name — an obvious riff on campaigns to save every animal from turtles to whales to polar bears — to the website, these guys get it. Brand matters. They’re committed to connect with pregnant mothers from the first minute they meet them — on the little things as well as the big.

The Save the Storks bus hits the streets of Dallas today. The “Save the Storks” staff thought Dallas — essentially the birthplace of the institution of abortion — was the appropriate place to start. I agree. But this is just the beginning. They plan to deliver six new buses to pregnancy centers in the next three years and, eventually, to build a national movement. A Stork bus in every major city in America: I’m on board with that.

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