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Monday, August 25, 2008

Alpha Center Director Addresses Sioux Falls School Board

This notice was received via email this afternoon:

At 5:30 PM CST Kimberly Martinez, Executive Director of the Alpha Center, plans to address the Sioux Falls School Board in response to an ad that appeared in the Sioux Falls School Directory this year that offers help to women suffering after an abortion.

The ads states, “Abortion Hurts Women. There is hope and healing at the Alpha Center. This ad has come under fire by opponents to the VoteYesForLife.com campaign who call it a political ad geared at youth.

In reality, this is an organized strategy by advocates for abortion to draw more attention to their campaign. See comments from Kimberly Martinez below.

“My name is Kimberly Martinez and I am the Executive Director for the Alpha Center of Sioux Falls. I would like to take this time to discuss the Alpha Center ad that was placed in the Sioux Falls School Directory through the Shopping News this school year.

I will begin first by clarifying one issue: The Alpha Center is a 501c3 non-profit organization that has served the tri-state area for over 24 years. The Alpha Center is not the political organization that deals with this issue. VoteYesForLife.com is.

The ad we placed in the Sioux Falls school directory is in no way political. The Alpha Center was founded 24 years ago for two very specific purposes. First, to help women who’ve had an abortion to find healing from the emotional after effects of the procedure. Second, to help pregnant women considering an abortion to understand that there are positive alternatives to abortion like parenting and adoption.

The message of the Alpha Center in regards to these services has not changed in 24 years. We have clearly acknowledged the pain of abortion in many of our pamphlets and ads throughout these years, as we did in the ad being discussed.

Those opposed to the Yes on Initiated Measure 11 campaign are making this a political issue. Regardless, the Alpha Center has maintained a relationship with the Sioux Falls School District by providing education for teens on teen pregnancy and other high risk behaviors as long as we censored words like abortion and marriage.

When we became aware of this advertising opportunity we made the decision to take advantage of it after recognizing two significant factors: First, we understood that the other ads in the directory would be geared primarily at parents and second, the Alpha Center has seen a significant increase in the number of middle aged women coming to the Alpha Center for help after a past abortion.

The reality is, the Alpha Center saw a growing need in our community and saw this ad as an opportunity to reach those needing our services. While many of our opponents disagree with the fact that abortion hurts women or they disagree with the placement of this ad, I hold strongly that placing this ad was the right thing for Alpha Center to do. We have already had two women contact us specifically because of this ad for help with emotional and physical issues after their past abortion.

Further, the purpose of this ad was NOT to tell anyone how to vote on this issue or any other. It was our goal to provide services to those in our community who need our help as we have for 24 years.

I would also like to acknowledge that the Sioux Falls School District has been put in a very public spotlight because of this ad by those who oppose the Yes on Initiated Measure 11 campaign.

In fact, an organized effort to call the Sioux Falls School District in opposition to this ad was emailed and blogged from Planned Parenthood and others of like mind. I hope that the Sioux Falls School District will see this for what it is: an attempt by a political organization to bully them in an effort to raise public awareness of their issue.

Lastly, for those parents represented here tonight who state they might disagree with the placement of this ad or with the message of the ad as a whole, I wholeheartedly understand the sensitivity of this issue and know you will recognize that this is a directory geared primarily at parents and we are an organization trying to serve a growing number of Sioux Falls mothers who are asking for help dealing with emotional trauma after a past abortion. It is not a derogatory ad nor an obscene ad but rather an informational ad for women to know where they can find help.

Further, as you and I and others in this community send our youth to school to be educated, I think we can all agree that it is the important issues of our day, like this, that allow us unique opportunities to educate our children. That’s why we find newspapers, magazines and other similar materials that discuss today’s issues available to children in the schools. The content of these publications are not censored and are targeted directly to youth to utilize for research and reports.

A school directory targeted to the parents of our youth should NOT be censored.

Thank you to the Sioux Falls School Board Members and those in the audience for your time.”


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