TUNE IN: An alert was issued yesterday afternoon by growing women’s rights organization Ultra Violet that popular free streaming radio service Pandora is running political ads that prey on pregnant women. While the messages in question are documented as having been “on air” since May of this year, they’re just now getting the attention they deserve. “These deceptive ads implore listeners with an unplanned pregnancy to call 1-844-UCHOOSE — (1-844-824-6673) — an anti-choice hotline that tells women they can get cancer from abortion and other dangerous lies. These women, who are at their most vulnerable, need real medical care, not anti-science myths.”Indeed, Bethany Christian Services picks up at that number.
According to their site, BCS is “a global nonprofit family preservation and child welfare organization caring for orphans and vulnerable children on five continents. Bethany is recognized as a prominent leader in social services worldwide. Founded in 1944, our mission calls us to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children and families around the world.”
A woman with a soft but succinct approach answered our call to “Bethany Lifeline,” and was prepared to bristle when we asked politely about abortion as an alternative. “That sounds familiar,” she sighed, but not out of empathy.
She too-hastily went on, “Honestly, I’m sure that we don’t feel the same way. I don’t council toward abortion. We do not offer abortion. It is not our preferred choice.” When asked why, then, the line spells “U CHOOSE” if abortion is not a choice offered through the organization, she grew annoyed, apparently wise to the reason behind the call and replied that “everyone knows” abortion is an option and repeated that she won’t council toward it.
However, she did not offer any medical or scientific recommendations, nothing along the lines of Ultra Violet’s claim that the hotline tells scared young women that abortions lead to cancer, and it was clear why. “I appreciate you not swearing at me,” she said in a vaguely accusatory tone as we parted. “The last twenty five callers have not been so kind.” Obviously, the backlash has begun.
Bethany Christian Service is, of course, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, who undoubtedly pays a steep price for access to Pandora’s vast 76 million listeners each month. Pandora boasts that it is “bigger than the top 20 US Internet radio services combined,” with an audience as large as 1/4th of the US population, and is the second most downloaded iPhone app ever.
How many families could BCS “enhance the lives of,” as the goal their mission statement claims to aspire to, by opting out of expensive advertising with the new media giant? How many subscribers can Pandora afford to lose if they don’t drop the organization?