How Options United Was Founded

Thomas RudkinsBlog

I have often been asked, “Why did you start Options United?”

Two experiences, in particular, led me down this road.

While researching for a paper on phenomenology & morality (seriously!) I came across a piece in First Things magazine called A Failure to Communicate by Paul Swope. Mr. Swope was reviewing research done by Dr. Charles Kenny of The Right Brain People.

I was amazed to find how the powerful rhetoric of “choice” created a conundrum for the abortion-minded woman. It was so insidious, according to the research, that a woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy considered her unborn child as “death” to herself. Within this mindset, the child was a choice and not another person. Motherhood, adoption, and abortion are all seen as evil because they did not resolve her problem. Adoption, in fact, was the greatest of all evils since it left the issue open for years to come while people would judge her and think of her as a bad mother. Abortion, unfortunately, was the least of evils and the easier option.

It was hard to believe that someone could come to this conclusion. I thought as a country we were better than this. Something stirred in me to make it right. That feeling continues to this day.

The second experience came when I was working in the pro-life arena. My goal was to raise enough funding to change culture using mass media. At that time there was no hint of digital marketing. So, the only way was to buy TV advertisements.

It was the early 2000’s and I was working in Los Angeles. Purchasing just a few weeks of advertisements cost upwards of $300,000. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Poof! Gone into thin air – TV air time. For a small nonprofit, TV air time was not sustainable. Donors wanted to see results and impact before reinvesting into another round of advertisements.

Not only was TV extremely expensive, but the pro-life movement was not united to benefit from such a media effort. How could we work together, save lives, encourage life – if there was no common strategy? The pro-life landscape was fragmented with dozens of websites, phone numbers, and approaches. We could not run one media campaign without a communication hub to help those who reached out to us. We could not measure our success without some sort of infrastructure. There had to be a better way.

For these reasons, I started Options United: to use a common marketing strategy and “one number one solution” program that serves the overarching goal of the pro-life movement.

To accomplish our goals we have to overcome the current “isolated strategy” in favor of a “collaborative impact strategy.” We should not focus on what divides us (terminology, techniques, branding, local politics) but what unites us. The pro-life movement should act as a movement, respecting differences but embracing our commonality: the preservation of life and changing of culture to respect life at all stages.

I can tell you this – the future is bright! Over 2,500 babies are alive and well today thanks to this humble effort. +2,500 moms overcame their initial fear and now know the beauty of their child’s face.