Pro-life ads to air in the Upstate

GREENVILLE — Starting next month, advertisements will air on most Upstate television stations on crisis pregnancy and post-abortion recovery.

The 30-second ads will appear starting the week of Sept. 14 on Upstate network affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW and MyNet, according to Valerie Baronkin, Diocese of Charleston Respect Life coordinator for the Piedmont Deanery.

A total of 201 ads will run over four weeks, wrapping up the week of Oct. 5.

The campaign will be the second one to air in the area this year. A more limited, 100-ad effort finished in July with spots appearing on WLOS, the ABC affiliate in Asheville, N.C.; WYFF (NBC) in Greenville and WSPA (CBS) in Spartanburg.

That campaign took place in conjunction with the Rachel’s Vineyard retreat for post-abortive women held this month in Oconee County. Baronkin said she hasn’t received the results on call-backs from those ads.

“I do know that at least one person called — it was in the middle of the night and they just couldn’t sleep,” she said. “They were troubled by marital problems.”

Baronkin said the woman saw the ad on TV and realized her abortion was causing her trouble. She called the post-abortion recovery hotline and was urged to attend a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat.

“We are touching hearts just by having these commercials available for people,” Baronkin said.

The local campaign is part of a larger diocesan effort to spread awareness of pro-life issues. It started two years ago through former Diocese of Charleston Bishop Robert J. Baker and the diocesan Family Life Office. They then connected with VirtueMedia, Inc., out of Roswell, Ga.

According to its Web site, VirtueMedia is a non-profit, Christian values-based media company that creates and broadcasts educational sanctity of life media messages, “to bring about a positive change in hearts and minds.”

Working through state chapters of 40 Days for Life, small media campaigns were organized with the help of VirtueMedia two years ago in the Fort Mill and Aiken areas.

Tom Peterson, president of VirtueMedia, said in the months following that campaign nearly 175 women who were considering abortion contacted the VirtueMedia Pregnancy Line, while nearly 100 post abortive women sought healing.

The 40 Days for Life campaign, which focuses on prayer, fasting and peaceful vigil has also seen positive results since it started two years ago in College Station, Texas.

“They reduced abortions in that area by nearly 50 percent just by praying around the clock at abortion clinics,” Baronkin said.

The upcoming television ads were paid for with donations from Upstate parishes, tithing, local fundraisers and efforts by the Knights of Columbus councils. Together they raised $8,000 for the ad buys, said Baronkin, who is a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Mauldin.

“Commercials can get to people that we’re never going to be able to get into our pews or preach to in any other way,” she said.

Baronkin said more fundraising efforts would continue this fall and other parishes in the Upstate have expressed an interest in helping with the campaign.

The ads are available to view online at