Linda Wood: ‘REAL’ woman, real northerner
|“Being a pro-lifer in the Northwest Territories is a unique experience,” Linda Wood tells The Interim. “You have easy access to the powers-that-be. For example, I’ve gone for coffee with our previous minister of health and shared some of my concerns as a REAL Woman and pro-life activist.”
Wood is REAL Women’s director for the Northwest Territories. “I believe REAL Women and pro-life go hand-in-hand,” she says. “I don’t know if they do for everybody, but they do for me.” Wood finds that people are more accepting of her pro-life activism in the Northwest Territories than in some of Canada’s more densely populated areas.
“You personally know the people behind the scenes,” she says. “You’ve gone to school with them or played sports with them. So, being from a smaller population gives you more access. The people who govern know you personally from being involved in the community in other ways. They don’t think you’re crazy for being pro-life when they also know you’re a hockey mom.”
Motherhood is one of Wood’s favorite topics. “I have five children,” she states. “I think having children definitely enriches your life experience. You experience so much more – the whole world is not about me – you quickly learn how to put others first.”
Wood first became active with REAL Women during the late 1980s. “I was involved in the pro-life movement previous to hearing about REAL women,” she says. “Then, I heard about a REAL Women conference where one of the topics was daycare centres. There are two sides to the daycare debate – one side believes children need to be there at an increasingly younger age and the other side believes it’s a breeding place for coughs, colds and sickness.”
Wood acknowledges that many parents have to work, but thinks there should be options other than daycare, “like having a grandparent look after the children.” But she was worried that the government at the time “only recognized the daycare option.”
The conference took place in Ottawa in the late 80s. Wood recalls: “I brought a lot of information home from that conference and began to share it one-on-one with other women in the Northwest Territories. Most of us were shocked by what was happening in the name of women’s issues. For example, the way the income tax system favoured working women over stay-at-home mothers. Another example is the number of abortions being done on young girls without the parents’ knowledge. This is not something all women want.”
From her first conference, Wood felt a certain kinship with the REAL Women she had met. “What attracted me to REAL Women is that they worked real hard to inform us about issues affecting women that the media tries to hide.” She said the government and the media thought feminist women were speaking for all women when they were not, or for people Wood calls “the majority of everyday ‘real’ women.” She says what most attracted her to REAL Women is that they “worked very hard to try and get things changed so that all women were recognized.”
“As a REAL Woman, the most important career for people who choose to have kids is to be a mom,” Wood says. “There are many good careers out there for women, but too often, motherhood is a career that is not recognized. REAL Women recognizes the importance of motherhood as a career choice. And it’s a very real rewarding career choice.”
Wood’s work with REAL Women has brought her new opportunities as a pro-life activist. “I got a phone call one night from a woman who had found my name on the internet after looking up Yellowknife pro-life,” Wood shares. “She was shocked to find out her teenaged daughter was pregnant and scheduled for an abortion. She went with her daughter to see the doctor and the doctor wouldn’t even acknowledge the woman’s presence.
“It was a REAL Women article that had initially led this woman to me. Through Yellowknife Youth Pro-Life, a local pro-life organization, we were able to get the girl a plane ticket out to a home for unwed mothers in Western Canada.”
The article was entitled, “A Woman’s Fight for Her Principles” and described a powerful event in Wood’s life in which she was called to stand by her pro-life convictions. “I was 42, my youngest child was 10 years old and my oldest child 20 years of age and I was pregnant,” Wood states in the article’s introduction.
She then talks about her difficulty in finding a pro-life doctor. “I asked (a doctor whom she initially visited) for an ob-gyn who did not do abortions as I did not want an abortionist to touch me,” Wood writes. “I believe that anyone who kills babies one minute will not be in the right frame of mind to deliver mine the next.”
Wood’s insistence upon allowing only a pro-life ob-gyn to deliver her baby brought her into contact with a female pro-life doctor who sympathized with her situation. The doctor was not an ob-gyn herself, but she introduced Wood to Dr. Haskins, a pro-life surgeon who had some experience with C-sections.
“He agreed to assist me,” Wood states, “but advised that he did not have the authority to work in ob-gyn without the hospital board’s approval.” Wood approached the board and requested the approval. “I explained that studies have shown that doing abortions affects doctors by disrupting their sleep and increasing their incidence of alcoholism, etc,” she wrote.
Linda’s courage led to a pro-life victory in Canada’s Far North. “They agreed to put at my disposal the services of Dr. Haskins, the pro-life surgeon,” Wood wrote. “Oh … by the way … our healthy baby girl, who we call ‘Our Blessed Surprise,’ was born by C-section on March 19, 1996 … under the skilled guidance of the pro-life surgeon!”
Spreading such information is vital. As Wood told The Interim, “I wanted other women in a similar situation to know if I could do it, they could too.”