By Tina Whittington, Executive Vice President, Students for Life of America.
Never have I felt more accepted and supported as a woman than I have by the pro-life movement. After experiencing the Women’s March one weekend and the attending the National Pro-Life March the next, I felt that I had to speak up.
I was raised in Portland, Oregon which should tell you a lot about the social political climate I was raised in. I was also raised by a single mother for most of my childhood before she married my awesome step-dad. I didn’t even know that there was a pro-life movement but after my youth pastor spoke about the value of life at our high school youth group meeting in my Presbyterian church, I knew that I was pro-life.
I still didn’t know what to do with my newfound position but I knew that life from the moment of conception until natural death was valuable and that I was against the intentional ending of all humans.
When I was in college, I started having cysts on my ovaries that would burst and end me up in the hospital. Doctors suggested I start taking hormonal birth control pills to stop the cysts from forming and rupturing. Of course, I listened and went on the Pill. The year I was on the Pill, I gained 20 pounds (which is a lot for someone who is just over five feet tall), and started experiencing some deep depression.
I spoke with some of my married friends in the same boat and found out they were experiencing similar symptoms had been prescribed anti-depressants or were taking St. John’s Wort to combat the depression they were feeling from the drug.
In the meantime, I joined a gym to try to combat the weight issue.
In my early 20’s, I met Rock for Life and they were speaking out for the preborn from the stage at concerts, festivals, and even recruiting bands to take up the pro-life cause and speak out. It was from this organization that I learned about the harm the birth control pill can have on a woman’s body and that it can act as an abortifacient, ending the life of a child right after conception.
Through Rock for Life I was pointed to another great organization – Northwest Family Services – where I learned about natural fertility methods and worked with Nurse Rose to naturally treat my ovarian cysts and infrequent ovulation.
It was within the pro-life movement, that for the first time, I was exposed to how my body worked and to learn to embrace the way my fertility was uniquely designed. I felt empowered as a woman and supported to discover just how awesome it is to be formed in such a way as to conceive, carry, and then nurse a baby. And understand how to work with my body to either delay pregnancy or facilitate pregnancy. This was a special gift for me and my marriage. This is something I never would have discovered without the pro-life movement.
After I got married and became a mother, I spent nine-and-a-half years as a stay-at-home mom, or what I like to call a Mommy CEO. During that time I found ways to continue to share my own empowerment with other women.
We welcomed a teen mother and her baby to live with our family and helped her through the process of getting state support, finding a job, creating budgets, and finding ways to commute to and from her job. I also mentored single moms who were navigating difficult life situations. I was also afforded the opportunity to join a local Rachel’s Vineyard team who provided healing retreat weekends for women and men who were struggling after their abortion experience.
It was in the pro-life movement that I was able to navigate this time in my life and get the support I needed to balance taking care of four children, finding childcare to be able to do some of this work, and get the mentoring I needed to figure out how to make this all work. I felt 100% supported in my decision to give up my career and stay at home with my kids and I also felt encouraged to find ways to continue to empower other women.
Then something terrible happened: my husband, who was the financial supporter of our family, lost his job. If you have never experienced something like this, let me tell you it is not fun. I experienced the first panic attack I have ever had about a week a fter, when I started thinking about the daunting task of paying bills, buying food, and taking care of our kids with no salary.
In order to work through this time, I started applying for jobs, all kinds of jobs, and if you have ever been a mother who has been out of the workforce you know how hard it is to find a job when you have a nine-year blip in your resume.
Again, it was within the pro-life movement that I was accepted. It was at Students for
Life that I found someone who was willing to take a risk on a woman with a nine-year blip on her resume, four children that I may have to take time off to care for on occasion, and an acceptance that my passion for life could tie us altogether as a team even when I was the oldest person they had ever hired and in a significantly different season of life than they were.
To those at the Women’s March who were told to reject their natural and healthy fertility through birth control pills…
To those who were told to be a feminist you have to reject your amazing ability to conceive and carry a child to term through abortion-on-demand…
To those where were told that women must fit a very specific political mold in order to be accepted…
I am inviting you to a different movement!
Next year, please come to the National Pro-Life March and experience what it means to embrace your body for what it was designed for and instead reject hormones and chemicals that can actively harm your body. Meet women who are walking through different seasons of life and have various social and political beliefs but have stood firm for supporting other women with real, tangible help and resources, and reject the idea that we must fit a specific mold to be accepted by each other.