Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Apple removes pro-life prayer app

The decision to pull the program from the App Store followed negative media reports

A screen grab of the Human Coalition prayer app from Google Play. Google Play

Apple removes pro-life prayer app

Tech giant Apple removed a pro-life prayer app from its App Store following backlash from pro-abortion advocates, another example of bias against Christian groups.

Human Coalition’s app, still available on the Google Play Store, displays a list of prayer requests, such as, “Someone considering abortion in Dallas, Texas.” When users signal with a swipe of their thumb that they’ve prayed for the situation, the app updates a daily tally of prayers.

The group said Apple removed the app shortly after unfavorable media reports appeared on news outlets Slate and the New Statesman.

Slate blogger Christina Cauterucci questioned how the group could know when a woman considers abortion or decides against it and called the app “a discomfiting invasion of privacy or a gigantic lie.” The New Statesman’s Amelia Tate queried, “Are digital anti-abortion prayers sanctioned by the church? Do they reach God? Though these questions may seem faintly ridiculous, their answers seem more important than ever. When it comes to the tech behind these anti-abortion apps however, that is where people—religious or not—might do well to lose a little faith.”

Human Coalition spokeswoman Lauren Enriquez told me the prayer requests come from calls and appointments at the group’s network of seven pro-life pregnancy centers in Grapevine, Texas; Raleigh, N.C.; Pittsburgh; and Atlanta. She noted the group doesn’t post any personal information on the app.

Tens of thousands of users have downloaded the app since it launched in 2013, Enriquez told me, calling Apple’s decision “unfortunate.”

“The pregnant women we serve are experiencing true crises,” Enriquez said. “Many of them do not have partner support, are single parents with other children, or are caught up in abusive or coercive relationships. Our supporters want to pray for the women and children we serve, and the app is a way of sharing prayer needs with them.”

Enriquez said nearly all women who call their centers are seeking abortions, and the group works to help them through whatever crisis they face. If a woman decides to keep her child, the workers verify the birth and “count that child as rescued.”

Human Coalition claims to have saved 7,292 babies since its founding in 2009, and Enriquez gave credit in part to the people who pray for the centers and their clients.

When Apple removed the app, it notified Human Coalition the program didn’t meet functionality requirements. But the app, which has a near five-star rating on the Google Play Store, had been available in Apple’s App Store for several years. Apple didn’t cite any improvements necessary to reinstate the app.

This is not the first time Apple has removed a Christian app after complaints: The company deleted ex-gay ministry Exodus International’s app in 2011 and removed the ex-gay app Setting Captives Free in 2013.

Pro-life protesters gather outside a Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis.

Pro-life protesters gather outside a Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis. Creative Commons/Paul Sableman

Missouri sued again over pro-life laws

Planned Parenthood Great Plains and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri filed suit last week against a new Missouri law that requires abortionists to obtain informed consent from a woman 72 hours before her abortion.

Planned Parenthood argues the state should stick with current law, which allows any “qualified professional” to obtain the consent.

“The same-physician requirement will impose extreme burdens on physicians who provide abortion services in Missouri, some of whom will not be able to comply at all,” the lawsuit says. “The act will impose significant delays, greater medical risks, and other serious harms on patients, some of whom will be unable to access abortion at all.”

The law passed during the special legislative session called this summer by Gov. Eric Greitens. The office of Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said it would “vigorously defend” the regulations.

The suit follows two others filed against the state over new pro-life laws. A Satanist filed suit against the state’s 72-hour waiting period and requirement to view an ultrasound, and her case is headed to the state’s Supreme Court. Last year, Planned Parenthood filed suit against a Missouri law requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges and abortion centers to meet surgical center standards. —S.G.

Pro-life protesters gather outside a Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis.

Pro-life protesters gather outside a Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis. Creative Commons/Paul Sableman

Assisted suicide rising in Canada, Washington state

Nearly 2,000 Canadians have killed themselves through assisted suicide in the year following its legalization, according to Health Canada’s October report.

Since June 2016, 1,982 people have taken their lives under the federal Medical Aid in Dying law. An additional 167 people took their lives in 2016 under the assisted suicide law that went into effect in Quebec in December 2015.

A handful of people younger than 45 took the lethal drugs, but most were elderly. More than half lived in “large urban centers” and cited cancer-related reasons for wanting to die.

Meanwhile, in Washington state, counts of assisted suicide rose slightly last year, according to a state Department of Health report.

In 2016, 192 Washingtonians took their lives through assisted suicide, up from 166 in 2015 and 126 in 2014. An additional 57 people opted to participate in the state’s Death with Dignity Act, but several dozen died without taking the death-inducing drugs and the state did not get information on the outcome of others. —S.G.

States sue over Trump contraception mandate rule

Four states so far have filed suit against the federal government over rollbacks to the Obamacare mandate that forced insurance companies to provide cost-free birth control, including abortifacients.

The states filing suit include Massachusetts, California, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Wednesday the government “broke the law and undermined the health and economic independence of American women.”

The new rule allows religious universities, organizations, for-profits, and individuals—in addition to churches—to claim an exemption from the mandate. —S.G.

Ontario considers abortion center buffer zone bill

Ontario legislators are considering a bill introduced by Attorney General Yasir Naqvi that would ban pro-life protesters from approaching abortion centers, as well as homes and offices of abortionists.

The bill would create buffer zones of up to 492 feet in which no one could “advise or persuade, or attempt to advise or persuade, a person to refrain from accessing abortion services.”

Johanne Brownrigg with the Canadian pro-life group Campaign Life Coalition called the legislation “a huge overreach” and said the bubble zone is too big: “It’s a high price to pay when you’re balancing freedom of speech.” —S.G.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha is a freelancer for WORLD Digital. She is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute, holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Hillsdale College, and has a multiple-subject teaching credential from California State University. Samantha resides in Chico, Calif., with her husband and their two sons.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...


Please register, subscribe, or login to comment on this article.