The XX Factor

Bizarre App Lets Users Swipe Right to “Pray” for Real Women Considering Abortion

Invasion of privacy or gigantic lie?

Screenshot/Human Coalition app

On Thursday morning, before I’d even brushed my teeth, I helped save the lives of more than 100 human children.

I achieved this remarkable feat during what might have been most productive 15 minutes of my lifetime, and possibly the most heroic use of an iPhone in recent history. With the help of an app developed by the anti-abortion Human Coalition, it was easy! I saved real-live babies from the clutches of money-grubbing abortion providers with just a couple dozen swipes of my right thumb, as if I were paging through Tinder or wiping a little schmutz off the screen of my phone.

You too can be a baby-saving hero. Your superpower awaits at your favored app store, searchable under “Human Coalition.” The organization, which calls abortion “the worst holocaust in human history” and hopes it will become “unthinkable and unavailable in our lifetime,” runs crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in the Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Raleigh, North Carolina, metro areas and has connections to more than 30 other CPCs around the country. On the Human Coalition app, users can browse a feed that purports to tally real women who are engaging with these centers. “Someone considering an abortion in Charlotte, North Carolina contacted a center,” one feed entry reads. “Someone considering abortion in Cleveland, Ohio scheduled an appointment with a center,” reads another.

Screenshot/Human Coalition app

The app leads users to believe that these people (“abandoned and rejected women,” according to the Human Coalition website) are on the verge of committing what the organization calls “mass murder.” But with a simple left swipe, users can register a “prayer” for each woman, pushing her through divine intervention to reconsider. An “impact” tab records how many prayers a user has performed, how many babies she’s helped save, and how many total babies Human Coalition has saved since its founding. An audio guide to the app explains, “If you’ve prayed for a woman who decides to keep her baby, you can be encouraged that, through prayer, you’ve helped save a child from abortion.”

I’ve reached out to Human Coalition several times to ask whether the entries in the feed correspond to real case files opened for real women who contact Human Coalition CPCs. I have gotten no response. It’s also not clear whether Human Coalition is tracking which real women each app user has prayed for, then updating that user’s “babies saved” tally if those specific women choose not to terminate their pregnancies. That is what the app promises, though, making this app either a discomfiting invasion of privacy or a gigantic lie.

Human Coalition makes much of the sort of data-driven action its app claims to track. The organization’s website says employees monitor “the entire marketing to life-decision process,” or the conversion of an ad click to a CPC visit to a woman choosing to carry her pregnancy to term. “We’re able to calculate precisely how much money is needed to reach an at-risk woman and help rescue her baby from abortion,” the site states. That figure currently sits at $265.

Brian Fisher, Human Coalition’s founder, has said that many of the women who come into Human Coalition–affiliated CPCs “will not walk into the pregnancy center voluntarily” if they know it’s not a health center that offers abortion care. This is why CPCs market themselves to seem like women’s health clinics that provide abortions. To those not intimately familiar with the tactics and language of the anti-abortion movement, CPC ads and websites are virtually indistinguishable from those of legitimate care providers. Women often visit these centers expecting medical care, only to find no doctors or nurses—just a free pregnancy test, a pamphlet full of misinformation about abortion complications, and, in at least one case, an ultrasound operator who mistakes an IUD for a fetus. According to Human Coalition’s associate general counsel, Colin LeCroy, other CPCs target “abortion-vulnerable” women who are still deciding what to do about their pregnancies. In contrast, Human Coalition’s CPCs try to get women who’ve already decided to get an abortion to make an appointment at a CPC they think is a comprehensive health care facility. “The average crisis pregnancy center sees about 239 abortion-vulnerable women per year, only 22 of whom are said to be abortion-minded,” LeCroy told the Daily Wire last month. “An average Human Coalition care center will see 563 women, 542 of whom who stated that they planned to get an abortion.”

In other words, like most CPCs, Human Coalition traffics in deception at every level. But unlike most CPCs, this one has cajoled a mainstream media outlet into passing over the megaphone. In the span of less than three months this spring, the New York Times published two op-eds by Human Coalition leaders. One rejected the notion that reproductive autonomy is an essential contributor to economic justice, writing that a woman wants an abortion “as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.” The other contended that feminism rests on the idea that “freedom can be bought with the blood of our preborn children,” and that a better feminism would “reject the pressure to believe that killing our children and living full lives are mutually inclusive.” Both op-eds battle straw men, contain misinformation—the latter blatantly mischaracterizes a study it cites—and function as free advertisements for Human Coalition. “At Human Coalition, where I work, we extend tangible, compassionate help to pregnant women,” PR manager Lauren Enriquez wrote in February. “There are better solutions” for pregnant women than abortion, wrote client services director Lori Szala in May, “they just require more creativity and more effort.” And who, pray tell, might provide such solutions? “Organizations like mine.”

The Times was clearly trying to show some diversity of opinion in its pages, an objective that’s difficult to achieve when the two sides of an issue are not equally endowed with logic, facts, and humanity. (See also: Bret Stephens, hiring of.) It speaks volumes about the anti-abortion movement that the best representatives the Times could find work for an organization that claims Planned Parenthood has committed greater atrocities than “the Jewish Holocaust” and that there is no difference between killing “kindergartners and preborn children.”

These beyond-the-pale views on women’s health care come through in the Human Coalition “baby-saving” app. The organization claims its methodical data analysis makes it more effective and sophisticated than the average CPC chain. Those claims are highly exaggerated—almost every CPC uses deceptive advertising to get women, and other anti-abortion groups have used technologies like mobile geofencing to track women who enter abortion clinics and send them such ads. But the Human Coalition app is a great example of how things that seem fine in the hands of good people—apps, customer conversion data, prayer—can turn sinister in the hands of those who believe nearly 1 million U.S. women become murderers each year.