The theme of October’s Respect Life Month — “Open Your Hearts to Life” – is based on Pope Francis’ call for Catholics to value life from conception to death.

The focus on respecting life, especially the lives of unborn children, has been a constant in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and many Catholics have been actively involved in helping women choose life.

Despite the efforts to build a culture of life in the Philadelphia region, according to 2011 Pennsylvania Department of Health statistics, there were 34,459 abortions performed in the state and almost half of them — 14,046 – occurred in Philadelphia. Across Pennsylvania more than 20 percent of pregnancies end in abortion.

Reach Philadelphia, a new pro-life project in the Philadelphia region, is being introduced by Heroic Media, an international faith-based non-profit organization. Heroic Media plans to engage in a mass media campaign to promote a culture of life and offer help to women considering abortion. The media outreach will include Internet, television and mass transit advertising.

The organization will also be partnering with Students for Life, Generation Life and other groups to promote life-affirming education and resources on and around college campuses in the Philadelphia area. In addition, Heroic Media will be collaborating with local pregnancy service providers, pro-life organizations and churches.

The goal, according to Rev. Joe Young, vice president of operations and strategic initiatives for Heroic Media, is to “build a partnership in Philadelphia unlike anywhere else in the country.”

Young said the pro-life groups and Heroic Media will be collaborating to reduce abortions in the city. “We want to make sure there are layered services available, providing support and care to women who are choosing life and making sure there are programs in place that will change their lives and the future of their children,” he said.

To introduce this initiative, Heroic Media will host a Vision for Life Dinner on Friday, Nov. 1 from 7-9 p.m. at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue Hotel. The event will feature a keynote address by author Eric Metaxas and special guest Lila Rose, founder of Live Action.

Young said they want to share their vision for the Philadelphia campaign and “get people to partner with us so that the greater vision can be accomplished – reaching more women, saving more lives and transforming families.”

While there is no fee to attend the dinner, Young noted that it is a fundraiser for the campaign.

“We have $240,000 pledged so far, and we estimate that we need $500,000 in funding for advertising and community outreach in the first year,” Young said. He added that his organization’s goal over a five-year period is to reduce the abortion ratio by 20 percent.

According to information from Heroic Media, their initial efforts have already reaped positive results in thePhiladelphiaregion. For the past five months, the organization has run Internet campaigns with theHopePregnancyCenterand Community Women’s Clinics inPhiladelphiaandBucksCounty. These campaigns have generated 322,600 search impressions and 5,851 clicks, connecting women to pro-life information and 1,116 direct contacts (e-mails or phone calls) have been made to the centers.

Steve Bozza, director of the archdiocesan Office for Life and Family, welcomes the support that Heroic Media is bringing to pro-life activities in the Philadelphia area.

“I’m all for any help we can get from outside sources to advance the cause of life,” Bozza said. “I think there’s lots of hope out there for them (Heroic Media) to be able to do what they do best.”

***

Vision for Life Dinner

Friday, Nov. 1, 7-9 p.m.
Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue
4200 City Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19131

Click here to register for the dinner.

***

Elena Perri is a freelance writer in Havertown.