“I rely on it as one of my main sources of news for
what’s happening in the pro-life area,” says Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for
“His daily news updates are a real resource for the
secretariat and the pro-life movement in general,” observes Deirdre McQuade, director of planning and information at the
They’re referring to Steven Ertelt and his LifeNews.com. In the three years since Ertelt launched the Web-based news service, people from every level of the pro-life movement have made it one of the most popular websites serving their need for information.
“It gets me the breaking pro-life news quickly,” says Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life and founder of the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life. “When something happens in a state, for example, people from that state are going to ask me or my associates about it. They will want a comment, or they will want to know how their churches should respond. LifeNews.com is a great way to go to a single place and know that the initial information about what is happening will be close at hand.”
Today, upwards of 65,000 people receive the service’s free, no-obligation e-mail newsletter, choosing either a daily or twice-weekly subscription. The news arrives first thing in the morning.
Ertelt stresses the importance of accuracy and timeliness in pro-life reporting. He points out that the LifeNews covers not just anti-abortion activities but also new developments in embryonic stem-cell research, cloning, in vitro fertilization, euthanasia and biotechnical enterprise. That doesn’t mean the service gets distracted from “watch-dogging” that most bold and blatant of all anti-life activities.
“LifeNews has taken the abortion debate and extended it,” he explains. “We focus a lot on the intricacies, such as the pain an unborn child feels during an abortion, what happens during a pregnancy and during an abortion, what happens to women during and after an abortion. We’re finding women are going through a myriad of problems you don’t see treated in the mainstream media.”
Nor does LifeNews.com shy away from reporting on the emotional and psychological damage women suffer after having an abortion — how the deadly procedure increases depression, breast cancer, and the risk of using alcohol and drugs.
“I know he is going to be covering stories that are not going to be covered in the mainstream media,” says Wright.” If they are going to be covered, the mainstream media is not going to provide the information LifeNews does.”
The site’s international coverage is another bonus to Wright because her organization works with the United Nations.
The 32-year-old Ertelt is no new kid on the block when it comes to reporting pro-life news. For 10 years before launching LifeNews.com, he ran the former Pro-Life Infonet, a news-clipping service.
He started the work that would become LifeNews.com soon after graduating college, first working full-time for Indiana Right to Life (then the Indiana Citizens for Life), then as executive director of Montana Right to Life.
He’s recently been elected president of Right to Life of Wyoming, which is in a rebuilding phase.
In short, Ertelt does what he hopes his readers will be moved to do: He gets involved. That’s why LifeNews stories often include contact information for relevant organizations — so readers can do something about what they’ve just read about.
“A lot of our news magnifies that way,” Ertelt says, referring to the way certain stories get widely shared and disseminated.
LifeNews stories also get picked up by pro-life media outlets and some other websites, along with Catholic media, the Baptist press and, once in a while, by big mainstream players such as the Washington Post.
“Personally, as a Christian,” says Ertelt, “I would appreciate people’s prayers for us — that God continues to use us.”
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen