Personalities

This Is What a Pro-Life Feminist Looks Like

First Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa got kicked out of the Women’s March. Then she nearly became a cable TV pundit.

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa is snout deep in chips and queso when I arrive. An hour earlier, when I tried to offer up a few places to meet, she obliterated my polite diplomacy with a simple text that read: “I’ll be at Amigos, drinking margaritas. Whether you are there or not is irrelevant.” I show up 15 minutes late to interview Destiny at Amigos Restaurant Comida Casera, a favorite Tex-Mex place in our shared stomping ground of Richardson. But first she has to make fun of my dumb airbrushed trucker hat.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she faux apologizes. “I didn’t mean to tear you away from your job at the State Fair.”

This is one of the many reasons I like Destiny. She busts your beans in the painfully intimate manner of a friend you’ve kept in touch with since grade school or a close cousin who knows you better than your own parents and siblings. She’s a sharp wit and a great storyteller. She’ll call you out, but she won’t betray your trust. And she’ll always share her queso.

There are a lot of things I like about Destiny. We just happen to have different ideas about when exactly a human being becomes a human being, and whether or not the woman carrying said human being should be allowed to surgically remove that human being from her womb before it becomes a much larger human being. It’s a topic I try not to get into with her. Not just because she’s pro-life, but because she’s the founder of an organization called New Wave Feminists.


Destiny’s mother became pregnant with her when she was a 19-year-old sophomore at UT Austin. “I should’ve been aborted,” Destiny is fond of saying, “but I wasn’t.” Destiny’s mother is her badass feminist hero, the person who helped shape her “bleeding-heart compassionate” views.

At 16, Destiny herself became pregnant. She returned from summer break with a baby bump and considered adoption, but never abortion. She admits that a big part of her decision to carry to term was that she had a strong support system at home. That’s not to say it was perfect. Destiny never knew her biological father. She and her brother were raised by a single mother. But when she had her first child, she had the support to do it and the encouragement to remind her she was strong enough and smart enough to take responsibility for her child.

Destiny knew that New Wave Feminists had to be more than a rebellious new idea. It had to be a rebellion against old ideas.

New Wave Feminists was just one of a few endeavors Destiny became involved with during the mid to late aughts. In 2004, she started the group with some friends. If old internet pages are any indication of history, which they rarely are, New Wave Feminists started as something of a punk-rock mishmash of antiabortion angst with a bit of good, old-fashioned megachurch sensibility bubbling beneath the surface. They now run a support forum through their Facebook page and organize demonstrations.

From there, Destiny got interested in local politics, ironically donning pearls to attend meetings of the Golden Corridor Republican Women. She started a blog about Richardson politics called Conserve and Protect, and she wrote op-ed pieces for the Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, New Wave Feminists started gathering momentum, and the blogs and columns fell away as Destiny grew into a leadership role. She became a more seasoned public speaker and social organizer, and she started to refine the group’s position and pinpoint where the pro-life agenda intersected with feminist ideology. Destiny knew that New Wave Feminists had to be more than a rebellious new idea. It had to be a rebellion against old ideas.

In early 2017, New Wave Feminists was accepted as a sponsoring partner for the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Their pro-life stance is the crux of the group’s overall concept of a “consistent life ethic.” They are also anti-torture, anti-death penalty, and anti-unjust war. The Atlantic wrote an article about the group’s official inclusion in the march. Within a day, after a sizable Twitter backlash, New Wave Feminists got booted. They could no longer be an official partner of the Women’s March.

Of course, their rejection made Destiny and the group an even bigger story. They went to D.C. and marched anyway, and over the course of a few weeks, she was interviewed by a vast spectrum of media outlets and cable news programs, from PBS NewsHour, HuffPost, and HBO’s Vice News Tonight to Fox News and Fox & Friends.

In fact, one producer at Fox Business Network was absolutely hellbent on primping Destiny for prime-time punditry. When Destiny returned to Dallas from the Women’s March, the producer contacted her for a defense of Trump’s Muslim ban. He then reached out to see if he could provoke some outrage over Ivanka’s product line being dropped from Nordstrom. Destiny turned him down both times, admitting she didn’t know enough to speak on either topic.


It seems as though Destiny is out of town every other weekend these days, speaking at some event or another. New Wave Feminists is up to more than 27,000 followers on Facebook, which is the only real record of membership they track. Meanwhile, her dutiful husband, Abrahm, is back home in Richardson, working and taking care of the kids. He’s the real hero of this piece, if you want to know the truth. But Destiny forbade me from talking to him unless he was intoxicated and speaking highly of her.

Recently, Destiny was in D.C. to attend BuzzFeed’s “Red, White & Banned” party, an alternative shindig to the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. I decided it was as good a time as any to ask via email how she reconciles the social aspects of being a feminist with the political aspects of being pro-life.

“It’s actually pretty simple,” she replied via video chat. “If you believe that abortion ends the life of another human being and half the time that human being is female, then you believe that this is a human rights issue. So, just like I can be a feminist and be opposed to murder, rape, and anything else that would violate another human being’s existence, I am a feminist who is opposed to abortion.”

The next day, I followed up with a phone call. Maybe it was because it was a Sunday night and we were both tired, but our typical goofball banter quickly devolved into the kind of semantic Ping-Pong match you’d expect from cable news. It made my head hurt. Not that this kind of discussion is frustrating or futile. It’s just not funny. I wanted my funny pro-life friend back.

I think a lot of us are in a similar place. We have friends we hide on social media. We have relatives we can barely sit through a meal with. In a lot of cases, we’ve stopped trying to listen to each other and don’t accept each other’s point of view as much as we begrudgingly tolerate it.

For whatever reason, I accept and enjoy Destiny as she is. Maybe because I’ve never known her to be anyone else. I’ve never expected her to be anything but a super-passionate contradiction.


We’re out of queso. I wince as I look at my notes, unsure how to start. “You know how writers are always doing that lazy intro where they’re at a cafe or a hotel bar or wherever,” I ask, “and the person being interviewed is always in the middle of stabbing an appetizer with their fork? Like, ‘Fiona Apple picked at her kale salad while discussing the Bosnian refugee crisis.’ ”

“Yeah,” Destiny says.

I jot down my opening sentence and recite it aloud: “Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa is snout deep in chips and queso.”

“Please! Please!” she says. “That has to be it.”

I reconsider the imagery. “Nostril deep. I don’t want to—”

“No, snout deep! It has to be snout,” she insists. “It has to be a pig thing. It’s the only thing—” Destiny’s laughter swallows the end of the sentence. She regains her composure to finish her own introduction. “She only comes up for air to sip from her margarita.”  

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Comments

  • Super_Red

    Could not love this more!! Abortion is a human rights issue, plain and simple. It is incomprehensible to me that anyone could call themselves a feminist and continue to advocate for the legal killing of another human being. Thank you, Destiny!

    We need more conversations like this. Our country would be better off if there were more people like this reporter who doesn’t allow a difference of political opinion to prevent a genuine relationship.

    • Reubonics

      I concur.

    • Strawberrychaos

      A fetus is not a woman, and it’s not “killing” anything. On the other hand, stripping away bodily autonomy from living women is NOT being pro-women, period. There are so many reasons a woman might choose abortion that have nothing to do with socioeconomic problems. These decisions could be motivated by family issues or because the fetus has a disease that will render it incapacitated or in pain when its viable, for example. Perhaps the mother’s life would be in danger. The decisions are deeply personal and should not be open for debate by politicians and religious and anti-choice zealots.

  • Emily Moothart

    Thanks for interviewing Destiny! This style of piece isn’t my favorite, but I appreciated your reasonable treatment of a “side” you don’t agree with.

  • Ashley Penn

    Thanks for being fair and balanced! Love Destiny! She’s such a trip. But you always know right where she stands. 🙂

  • Aware Muzzle

    Good article, interesting person

  • mwittlans

    Thank you for this. There’s too little civil discussion these days. What a great example of of how we should still connect with those who disagree with us, even on such polarizing issues.

    • Amanda Smith

      I already love Destiny, but I started to love the author too while reading this. 🙂

  • Jessie Marie

    Nothing builds credibility for a publication like balance. Good job giving representation to an enormous demographic that is so often silenced.

  • Isabel

    Great article! Thanks for publishing such a balanced piece. I’d love to read more stories like this in the future.

  • Donna Weiser Evans

    Since this is a “personality” column I kind-of get it: super cool young woman has a position antithetical to dmag’s usual read. But it’s not lost that it is her “type” and not her position that got her onto the pages. Would love to see dmag have the courage to let her espouse her position, exposing the enormity and depth of substance behind her stance.

  • Dawn Peterson

    And, to continue the discussion of how easy it is to be a pro-life feminist, I’d love someone to examine the after-effects on the women who have the choice to make. I know there are many who buy the tee shirts and shout loudly at rallies that they are proud of their abortions… but it’s not the quiet satisfaction and strength that grew from doing something noble and life-giving. Stated differently, I’ve known several women who tend to make unhappy choices in life and seem to be living out some shame, and I suspect that an abortion is part of that internal shame; on the other hand, I’ve never met a woman who chose life and didn’t seem strong and empowered– tackling life’s other challenges with confidence, and saying that her decision for life was the hardest and best decision she ever made.

    • Strawberrychaos

      What is your point here? Regardless of your stance and personal testimony, the choice to abort is a personal one, and different women feel it differently. That’s what it means to be a human. But it’s none of your business either way, and the point is to have a choice — including abortion. There are so many reasons a woman might choose abortion that have nothing to do with socioeconomic problems. These decisions could be motivated by family issues or because the fetus has a disease that will render it incapacitated or in pain when its viable, for example. Perhaps the mother’s life would be in danger. The decisions are deeply personal and should not be open for debate by politicians and religious and anti-choice zealots.

      • Dawn Peterson

        I mean quite simply this: abortion ends a human life and leaves a gaping wound on the soul of the person who ends the life. I do not believe that adding that wound to the woman, whatever her circumstances, is going to be the most healing and empowering act for her. I believe it’s a scar that’s going to continue to hurt and cast its influence throughout her future. Conversely, bringing forth human life and completing someone else’s family through adoption, or adding to her own circle of love– these are things that bring purpose and meaning and strength and power to a person’s life: making something good and life-affirming out of the wreckage of something bad.

  • Rachel Crawford

    Thank you for publishing a balanced piece. Variety is refreshing and diverse perspectives help to initiate conversation!

  • Amanda Smith

    Yes and yes. I found NWF a year ago, I think? I got to watch the march debacle unfold in realtime. It wasn’t surprising, but it was frustrating. Feminism is about equal pay at home, about acid being thrown in women’s faces in the Middle East, about millions of girls being aborted/killed across the world, about having the family and economic support to go through an unplanned pregnancy, about not shaming teens who get pregnant, about protecting born women and transwomen. Feminism isn’t just bodily autonomy and abortion. And pro-life isn’t just a conservative issue.

    There’s a lot of people who wouldn’t be alive right now if they had been aborted. Whether you think a fetus deserves rights at 12 weeks, or 22 weeks, either way, that person never get to be 12 years old, or 20 years old, or 40. It’s not just a fetus that’s dead. It’s their whole life, gone.

    Thank you Destiny for giving this pro-life, pro-LGBT, liberal atheist a platform that she can belong to.

    • Strawberrychaos

      Let’s be very clear: An “anti-choice feminist” is an oxymoron. Anti-choice activists are inherently anti-woman, because these people seek to strip bodily autonomy away from women. A fetus is not a woman.

  • Octavia

    Good article!! I enjoyed learning more about Destiny as I have been a follower of the NWF Facebook page for a few years now. Keep up the good work Destiny!!

  • Laura Luster

    Love it. I’m glad someone wasn’t afraid to look at this issue and see real people behind it.

  • Good article, thanks.

    “how she reconciles the social aspects of being a feminist with the political aspects of being pro-life.”

    I’m not sure why the political aspects of being a feminist and the social aspects of being pro-life are excluded here, but I also wonder if “reconciled” is the right word. Herndon-De La Rosa’s reply suggests that it might be more difficult to reconcile being a feminist with being pro-CHOICE. See ” ‘Is It Possible To Be Pro-CHOICE and Feminist?’ ” http://blog.secularprolife.org/2017/05/is-it-possible-to-be-pro-choice-and.html

  • If you’re interested in reading Destiny’s Dallas Morning News commentary, I think these are three great ones: http://bit.ly/2unMLAP, http://bit.ly/2vhtvl9, http://bit.ly/2uemaFR. Her definition of “pro-life” — not just pro-birth — is as consistent as you’ll find.

  • mezzetin1

    Probably better off not taking Geoff Johnston’s advice…

  • Strawberrychaos

    I’m disappointed you’re letting this person refer to herself in this way and are assisting in mainstreaming an extremist. Let’s be very clear: An “anti-choice feminist” is an oxymoron. Anti-choice activists are inherently anti-woman, because these people seek to strip bodily autonomy away from women. A fetus is not a woman.

    Additionally, Destiny is obviously dangerously ignorant about all the reasons a woman might choose abortion that have nothing to do with socioeconomic problems. These decisions could be motivated by family issues or because the fetus has a disease that will render it incapacitated or in pain when its viable, for example. Perhaps the mother’s life would be in danger. The decisions are deeply personal and should not be open for debate by politicians and religious and anti-choice zealots.

    I’m deeply involved in the pro-choice movement. I’m in the inside circle and have watched in horror as these people have wormed their way into our political offices and our back yards, and have become increasingly insidious and abusive toward women with their tactics. They’re getting increasingly sneaky, and that’s all Destiny is here: sneaky.

    The wolf is in sheep’s clothing, but those claws are still there. Beware.

  • Strawberrychaos

    Let’s be very clear: An “anti-choice feminist” is an oxymoron. Anti-choice activists are inherently anti-woman, because these people seek to strip bodily autonomy away from women. A fetus is not a woman.

    Additionally, Destiny is obviously dangerously ignorant about all the reasons a woman might choose abortion that have nothing to do with socioeconomic problems. These decisions could be motivated by family issues or because the fetus has a disease that will render it incapacitated or in pain when its viable, for example. Perhaps the mother’s life would be in danger. The decisions are deeply personal and should not be open for debate by politicians and religious and anti-choice zealots.

  • Strawberrychaos

    Are you against miscarriages, too?