Most people who run into Jenn Giroux probably wouldn’t guess that she is mother to nine children.
A warm, youthful registered nurse with an energetic smile, Giroux, 48, is a remarkable intersection of proud mother and dynamic pro-life leader. As executive director of HLI America, she counters the agenda of the likes of abortion giant Planned Parenthood; however, abortion is not the end of the story for Giroux. As founder of the Association of Large Families (AFLA), she’s also dedicated to reaching out to “planned parents,” a much larger group of people who are heir to the idea that having more than a few children is not only burdensome, but even dangerous and unnatural.
This mentality, she said in a telephone interview with LifeSiteNews.com, is more at the root of our culture’s problem than even the abortion industry – and it is a root cause that conservatives need to come to terms with.
“We’re really taking on the ‘planned parenthood’ mentality … that less children is better,” said Giroux.
A nurse with 24 years’ experience, she said that she was often struck during her time in the health care industry by women’s negative attitude when asked whether they were pregnant. “It reflected how America has really lost sight of our greatest resource, which is our children,” she said. Giroux blames the mentality that blossomed in the 1960s and 70s that says that families should be limited to allow women to pursue careers.
The idea has penetrated so deeply that doctors now even suggest that having a large family, far from the natural course of married life, is a risk to a woman’s health. “Your doctors nowadays are going to tell you, ‘Don’t have any more than two, your body can’t take it. You don’t want to do that, take the Pill,’” she said. “I hear this consistently.”
The Silent Mourning
However, said the nurse, she has also seen the other end of the journey – the one no one talks about.
“I discovered in my experience that … women over fifty expressed time and time again to me their post-contraceptive regret,” said Giroux. “And what they’re realizing now is that they had their two children, they put them in daycare, and their children are now grown and moved away, and they wish they had more children – or they sincerely mourn and regret the children they willingly prevented.”
Parents later in life not only suffer remorse, she said, but they and their families often end up experiencing the loss quite tangibly. “I witnessed only children at the bedside of their dying parents with no support around them from siblings, because they don’t exist,” she said. She noted also the “terrible, burning regret” and “mourning” she’s seen from sterilized individuals, who can be left barren even after reversing the procedure.
While she is dedicated to exposing the tragic effects of smothering natural fertility, Giroux said she and former Human Life International President, Rev. Tom Euteneuer, came up with AFLA to show the positive “flip side” of that concern. “It is an effort to show people the beauty of having large families,” she said.
Modern society, she said, has been left in the dark about what large families are really like. When large families are mentioned in the national media, “it is usually to mock them” – but in truth, she notes, large families are the “physical and spiritual backbone of America.”
ALFA exists “not to judge people at all,” she said, “but more to make sure that our daughters and granddaughters do not buy into the same lies that were fed to women our age.”
“What we really basically are asking is that families that are open to God’s plan for marriage, love and children and accepting the gifts he sends their family instead of limiting their families through artificial means.”
“The Catholic Issue”
According to Giroux, the fight to get their message out has not exactly been easy.
“I have been called a lunatic more times than I care to remember,” she said, relating struggles she has had to find a foothold even among top conservative and pro-life circles.
Despite some discouraging results, Giroux said she feels the movement is making progress against one of the biggest impediments: the idea that opposing contraceptives is just a “Catholic issue.” More and more research, she says, is pointing to the devastating repercussions of the contraceptive culture on women’s health.
Giroux has teamed up with Angela Lanfranchi, M.D. of the Breast Cancer Institute to expose the link between contraceptive use and breast cancer. For example, she says research has suggested women on the Pill within five years of having their first baby are at 50% increased risk for breast cancer.
“You don’t always get people who want to hear the spiritual side,” said Giroux. She pointed out that women in their 30s have begun succumbing to breast cancer even though it used to be “a post-menopausal woman’s disease” – a change that she said is “directly tied to hormonal contraception and abortion.” “The pathophysiological development of the breast cancer tissue … has nothing to do with anybody’s beliefs.”
“It is time for the pro-life movement to wake up and be bold enough to say, you know what, you’re damaging our children, you’re damaging women, and we’re not going to stand for it anymore,” she said. “It’s not a Catholic issue anymore, it’s a women’s health issue now.”
In addition to the emergency contraceptive known as Plan B, which pro-lifers have constantly warned can kill a newly-conceived embryo, Giroux said that even the hormonal birth control pill may inadvertently be causing the death of countless tiny lives. She notes that scientists have found that during in-vitro fertilization, embryos often died after they could not receive nutrients from a uterine lining thinned by regular hormonal contraceptive use.
One day, she said, public opinion will recognize what damage the pill has done to women both physically and spiritually – a day she thinks is close at hand. She compared the contraceptive industry to the cigarette industry, which was also once virtually free of regulation.
“It took six decades to finally have the lawsuits and the legal liabilities catch up to the sales of cigarettes,” she said. “This is now the sixth decade of pill use. I believe this is the decade the pill and hormonal contraceptives, and the physical damage it has done to women’s health, is going to catch up also with the billions of dollars that are made in profit.”
Click here to visit AFLA’s Web site, FourorMore.org.