One of the sad byproducts of the media conspiracy to ignore this week's pro-life conference in Washington was that we almost missed this new iPhone app for baby-savin'. If only we'd seen it on Wednesday, we could've told you how much it sucked sooner:
Anti-abortion activists gathered at the Family Research Council's headquarters in DC Wednesday for a tech-focused gathering called, unfortunately and un-ironically, "Pro Life Con." The rockstar wasn't FRC president Tony Perkins or Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who both spoke to the gaggle; it was Brian Fisher, creator of the Online for Life phone app.
— Libby Barnes (@LibbyMBarnes) January 22, 2014
I'll admit, the peer pressure was killing me. What does it do, you ask? What doesn't it do!:
Download the Online for Life App to receive real-time alerts on women seeking abortions in your area. Invite your friends to join you in prayer and share the good news when a woman chooses life.
Sounds Big Brother creepy, no? Actually, as my wife and I learned, it doesn't do a lot. First, you have to log in:
Apologies to anyone who actually uses that email.
So what happens next? You pray. And... yeah, that's pretty much about it.
You get a screen (shown below and in the top photo at the left) that piles up messages telling you how an anonymous woman "considering an abortion" just got in touch with a "PRC"—a pregnancy resource center, one of the faux-clinics run by Online for Life's partners, where they distribute misinformation to pregnant women in order to convince them not to terminate their pregnancies.
That app doesn't tell you whether the women who are "considering abortion" think they're contacting a health clinic that performs abortions. It doesn't tell you if the women know they're calling an anti-abortion counseling center. It doesn't tell you much, really, and it's not clear if anything it tells you is true. What's it to you?
Your job here—and it feels more like a job than a game, which is death for a phone app—is to pray for these folks. You do that by swiping across a pregnant woman's message, leaving an awesome red-baby message in its wake:
It feels bizarrely like deleting an email... or terminating something. Not sure that's what they were going for there.
So far, so boring. But wait! There's not much more. Only a screen where you, the pilgrim, can gauge your progress:
This screen purports to tell you how many prayers you logged; how many of the people you prayed for made an appointment to visit a PRC; how many actually showed up; and how many decided, Madonna-style, that they're keepin' their babies. Is it for real? Who knows. Now, shut up and do some more prayer-swipin'!
Fisher, the brains behind the app and the organization that created it, is a fairly opaque "author, speaker, and business leader" who also self-published a book called "ABORTION: THE ULTIMATE EXPLOITATION OF WOMEN," a denim-covered copy of which can be yours for $25. I'm getting my copy now; based on the ponderous prose of the introduction, reading the book is bound to give me a greater sense of accomplishment than playing with this phone app.