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story.lead_photo.caption Julie Smith/News Tribune Jason Chaffetz, this year's keynote speaker at the Vitae Foundation's 29th annual Jefferson City Pro-Life event, addresses the luncheon crowd at the Capitol Plaza Hotel Tuesday. Chaffetz got into town Monday evening followed by a three-hour ride along with a Cole County Sheriff Deputy.

At some point, every person has to make a difficult decision, former Congressman Jason Chaffetz said Tuesday morning.

"You've got teenagers who are going through a lot," he said. "The question is — who are they going to lean on and where are they going to go to make some of these life decisions?'"

You'd hope they could go to clergy or family members when they needed someone to lean on, he told about 300 people attending the Vitae Foundation luncheon at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

"You'd hope they'd lean on a brother or a sister or a mother or a grandmother or whoever it might be," Chaffetz said. "But, I guarantee you this generation they're going to pick up that phone."

They're going to use websites as their source of information, he said.

"And what Vitae's doing — I don't see anybody else out there doing it — going up against these forces I call evil," he continued. "The forces of evil that want to make it as easy, and as nice, and as soothing as it can possibly be.

"The idea of an abortion is dressed up as just something that's hip, and cool, and easy and may even be fun," he said.

Pro-choice organizations are pouring billions of dollars into those messages, he said.

Chaffetz was the keynote speaker for the Vitae Foundation annual fundraisers. The foundation annually hosts luncheon and dinner fundraisers and pro-life events at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, 415 W. McCarty St.

The events raise money to promote a culture of life and to help educate women facing unplanned pregnancies about local resources available to help them make life-affirming decisions.

Chaffetz is a Fox News contributor and former congressman from Utah.

He was elected to Congress in 2008, before rising to chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Vitae is one of a few organizations that understand how pro-choice supporters use messaging, and is one of few organizations whose messaging can intervene and touch a woman's life during the critical juncture when she is considering abortion, he said in a news release.

Vitae has invested millions of dollars in research to become the world's "largest knowledge base" on abortion decision- making, Vitae Foundation President Debbie Stokes told the audience.

"No one has this volume of life-saving information that we are sharing with pro-life organizations around the world," she said.

Vitae partners with the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and Missouri Tigers football teams to disseminate messages during the games, Senior Marketing Director Stacey Kromer said.

Vitae has established a network of pregnancy help centers across the nation.

"We pay for and give them their entire digital marketing strategies, which saves them an average of $65,000 a year," Kromer said.

Centers have access to a number of marketing platforms. Search engine optimization, page personalization, Spanish language programs and access to after-hours helpline are tools Vitae uses to reach women, she said.

"Our newest platform is a website chat tool," Kromer said. "How many of you have been online, you go to a website and that little box pops up, 'Can I help you?' This is the type of technology we're using."

There are places where people spend their time and effort, and there are places where they spend their time and effort that make a difference, Chaffetz said Tuesday.

Everybody has a story to tell about the hardships they faced, and the things they concealed inside, he said.

Chaffetz told listeners about his childhood — watching as his parents divorced, sleeping on the floor when his father went bankrupt, then standing by and supporting his mother as she died of cancer.

"There is nobody that I shared this with. I kept it all inside," Chaffetz said. "I was 'perpetually happy.' I had a big smile on my face, played some soccer and went to school."

Fortunately, he didn't make any stupid decisions, Chaffetz said.

The Cole County Sheriff's Office greeted him when he arrived in town, Chaffetz said. They offered to point out some places to spend some time, or to get something to eat, he added.

What he really wanted to do was go on a ride-along, he told them. It's something he'd done with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Marshal's Office, Metro Gang Units and others.

"This is the most boring town. Nothing happened," he said. "Nothing. I spent three hours with this sergeant. We drove all around Cole County."

It's good that nothing happened, he continued, but you always learn something.

The only call they got was a runaway. He was 15 years old and hadn't figured out life yet. His mother was trying hard, Chaffetz said.

Officers talked to the teenager about getting his life straight, getting off drugs, he said.

Chaffetz and the sergeant he was riding with talked about the sergeant's 11-year-old daughter.

He had to pull over for a second. It was getting near her bedtime and the sergeant had to send her a text.

"It's hard to communicate with her because it's all emojis," Chaffetz said. "Eleven years old and this girl has a phone. Life has changed."

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