Tommy Valentine grew up with a great model for pro-life advocacy: his mom. Today her work inspires him to be involved, fighting for the culture of life where ever he can. From political campaigns to school wide talks, Tommy is reaching people and making a difference. He’s a great example of zeal in defending life and for the many different ways one can make an impact.
What inspired you to get involved in the pro-life movement?
I’ve been involved in the pro-life movement since I was in the womb! My mom worked for pro-life candidates in the 1993 Virginia elections while she was 7 months pregnant with me.
Everything about the abortion issue — as well as euthanasia and other life issues — inspires me to get involved. It is an undeniable fact that abortion is one of the greatest abuses of human rights in human history. The horrors of abortion make it impossible to be complacent. The lives of babies and hearts of mothers that are saved keep me motivated.
What do you do to support life and defend the pre-born?
My main focus is furthering the pro-life cause through the political process. I work to get pro-life candidates elected by knocking on doors, making phone calls, and organizing volunteers. I interned at the Susan B. Anthony List from 2009-2011, where I helped their efforts to stand against Obama’s abortion agenda, especially Obamacare. I was president of my high school’s pro-life club, and in my sophomore year I gave a speech about the history of abortion to the entire student body (over 800 people) that I’m told changed a lot of hearts and minds about abortion.
At Franciscan University, I am the president of the Young Americans for Freedom club (YAF), a conservative groups that works to raise awareness and promote action on issues, especially abortion. In October, we brought Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life to campus to speak about the responsibilities of Catholics in politics and the pro-life movement. We also held a voter registration & absentee voter drive to get over 200 pro-life students to vote in the 2014 elections.
While my main focus is politics, I try to take an “all of the above” approach by joining in 40 Days for Life, and by spreading the pro-life message on social media.
What is your favorite tool to communicate the pro-life stance?
Any tool that helps to save lives and change hearts and minds! Social media, contacting government officials, face-to-face conversations — whatever it takes.
What are some ways students can be active in their pro-life work during school breaks?
There’s always work to be done in politics! In 2013, with the help of the Susan B. Anthony List’s Women Speak Out PAC, I organized a group of 35 Franciscan University students to travel to Virginia to campaign for Ken Cuccinelli over fall break, which fell on the weekend before the election. We knocked on over 4,000 doors of pro-lifers who didn’t typically vote in non-presidential elections.
But, staying active doesn’t require traveling to another state. If it’s election time, find the pro-life candidates in your area and volunteer for them. Find out what is being done about abortion in Congress and state legislatures, and contact your elected officials to voice the pro-life message, and rally your family, friends, and your church to do the same.
Share with us an encouraging event or a success story from your work.
After I gave a speech about abortion to my high school in my sophomore year, I got dozens of supportive comments and people telling me I changed their mind. It’s still talked about among the faculty and staff at the school as a life changing event. I didn’t express any opinions during the event; all I did was put together a brief history of abortion and present the facts. Anyone can do that, we just need more people willing to do it.
Share with us an encounter with pro-abortion opposition and how you faced it.
I traveled to Texas in 2013 with Students for Life to support the re-passage of life-saving laws after Wendy Davis managed to make them fail. I saw a lot of hatred from the other side, but underneath that hatred was a lot of sorrow and regret. A lot of the time, pro-abortion people are post-abortive women or fathers/grandparents/relatives of aborted children. They’re trying desperately to justify their own abortions to themselves.
I learned that the most effective way to change hearts and minds with these people is dialogue. Understanding where they’re coming from, then talk to them about it, and always being kind and non-judgmental no matter what gets thrown at you. They’ve convinced themselves that pro-life people are bigoted, crazy, misogynistic, you name it. Show them love and kindness and you begin to break down the walls and reach their hearts.
What keeps you going through the tough times?
Politics gets very tough, especially when we lose elections. But that’s not all there is. When I’m looking only at the political landscape and the big picture of abortion, I get discouraged, but then I hear stories of lives being saved on the ground through 40 Days for Life and sidewalk counseling, and it motivates me to keep going.
Where do you find good pro-life education and resources?
Live Action, of course! But they’re not the only one – we have a movement full of good people and good organizations. The Susan B. Anthony List, Heritage Foundation, and Family Research Council do excellent work in the political and social arena, and Students for Life and Stand True Ministries do amazing outreach & apologetics work, along with action.
What advice would you give to your peers?
You’ll never know the impact you have. A conversation with a friend may stop them from getting an abortion years from now. An hour of phone calling may swing an election for a pro-life candidate. Act as though in every moment lives depend on your work, because they do.
Name a hero or role model of yours and explain why he or she inspires you.
My mom has been pouring her heart and soul into fighting abortion for decades. We live in Virginia where there are elections every year, so she never gets a break from working to support pro-life candidates – and even if she did, she probably wouldn’t take it. She spends countless hours working to support pro-life candidates and legislation – way more than the equivalent of a full-time job – yet still makes time to go to 40 Days for Life and donate to pregnancy resource centers. And that’s all on top of having raised 5 children and babysitting 2 grandchildren. She doesn’t get thanked nearly enough, but she is a true foot soldier in the fight against abortion and when we finally end abortion in America, she will be one of the unsung heroes.
What is your favorite pro-life quote?
It’s hard to choose, but I’d say Mother Teresa :
“The greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
Given a large sum of money and any connections you need, what would you do for the pro-life cause?
Mobilize every pro-lifer across the country to vote in 2016 to ensure we elect a pro-life president who will appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will overturn Roe v. Wade.
Connect with Tommy on Twitter.
Do you know a student whose pro-life work should be recognized? Nominate him or her for a Live Action Student Spotlight here.