by Gretchen Keiser
Georgia Bulletin,  Archdiocese of Atlanta, January 31, 1985

When abortion is discussed, there is talk of 17 million victims -- the 17 million unborn babies that have been aborted in the U.S. since 1973.

But at this year's service marking the 12th anniversary of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, the number speakers mentioned was 51 million victims -- the unborn and their 17 million mothers and 17 million fathers who are still suffering.

"Abortion effects all of us and we are all victims,"
said Suzanne Towne, a soft-eyed,  brown haired young woman from Florida who had an
abortion over 10 years ago as a college student. She now speaks on behalf of a national organization, Women Exploited By Abortion.

Mrs. Towne, who is 32 years old, was the principle speaker at the Atlanta Jan. 22 Memorial Service and March commemorating the Supreme
Court decision.  Later, as the march ended outside the State Capitol and pro-life representatives took petitions to legislators, Mrs. Towne
spoke at a greater length on the mental anguish, anger and guilt she had wrestled for 10 years before finding forgiveness and the first stages
of healing.

Now married and the mother of a young son, Mrs. Towne said that her life changed dramatically immediately after the abortion, which she had during the first year of legalized abortion in the U.S., while she was a junior in college.  "I was going to school, planning on a career in education.
My life was okay.  I was just a regular old college student," she said.

Her boyfriend was planning on becoming a doctor and, although they were dating seriously, the sudden news of a baby seemed impossible  to work into their plans for medical school and its financial and emotional demands.  When she went to consider an abortion, she asked  "what it looked like."

"They told me it was a blob," she said.  As she told her story, anger and wisdom won though pain kept spilling over, not only for herself but on behalf of other women who have not yet gotten the courage and healing she has received.  "I was lied to.  I was taken for a ride," by the
abortion clinic she said vehemently.  "They left me ignorant on the grounds that it would make me upset" if she knew anything about the size
and development of the fetus. 

Instead, when she did learn that information 10 years later, Mrs. Towne felt that she had been "robbed of dignity and self-worth" by the abortion counselor and prevented from making an informed and intelligent decision.

Despite her ignorance, immediately after she had the abortion she was emotionally devastated. "Within two or three weeks, I dropped out of school," she recalled.  "I couldn't concentrate.  I couldn't study."

Without explanation, she moved back to her parent's house and took a job as a file clerk.  Her mother quickly discerned what had taken place -- "You know how mothers are" -- but, so far, she and her father have not spoken of her abortion.

In addition to ignorance, there were cultural factors that contributed to her decision and similar ones made by other young women, she recalled.  "Back then it was a real stigma to be an unwedded pregnant kid," she said.  And, in most families, parents and children were not allowed
to talk openly about sex so, like others, Suzanne did not ask her parents for advice.  She wished it had been different.  "If you can't come to
them when you're in trouble, they're not doing their jobs," she says.

She and the young man eventually got married, but she believes now they "married out of guilt, not really because we should have gotten
married."  After several years, their marriage failed.  She also began to drink and have problems with alcohol abuse.  She had chronic bouts
of depression that sapped her strength.  "I had nightmares of a baby crying and me looking for a lost child," she said.  "Depression came to be
a part of my life."  Eventually, she married again, happily, and had a baby, but even in the midst of great joy, "I grieved for the child I would never

"I never wanted to go to a minister because I was ashamed," she said.  On the other hand, "I felt like if I went to a regular counselor they would
just tell me I did the right thing" by having an abortion.  "The friends that I had just reinforced it because they had had abortions."

The breakthrough came about a year and a half ago when she walked into her house one night, turned on a Christian television show she had never watched before or seen since and heard a talk on GOD's forgiveness.

Watching the show she accepted forgiveness for what she had done.  A few weeks later, she saw another show on the effects of abortion on women and made contact with the pro-life organization, not admitting at first why she wanted to become informed.  "I think alot of women
who are pro-choice" hold that view because they fear "the pro-life movement hates them" for having an abortion, she said.

But, Mrs. Towne said that when she did tell her pro-life friends that she had had an abortion and was suffering from its effects, "they were very warm and loving to me.  They treated me with graciousness."

She encouraged others who might be holding back from contacting a pro-life group to overcome their fears and make the first attempt.
"The LORD can take something very bad and make it good -- He can do that for everyone," she said.

Women Exploited by Abortion (WEBA), a national movement originating in Michigan, takes a Christ-centered approach to the healing needed
by women after abortion, Mrs. Towne said.But its works are those that touch the real needs of women who are hurt.  "We have information, someone to talk to, we offer support," Mrs. Towne said.  Many women just need someone to talk to, somebody who's been there."

"They feel they were lied to," she said.  "Alot are finding out that the one time they were pregnant is the only time they can get pregnant" either because of direct complications from the abortion or later medical problems interupting fertility. 

She also believes that many women with chronic alcohol and drug abuse problems are trying to cope with the pain of abortion, but don't
recognize the connection.  "They will not admit to themselves that that is why they drink alcohol or smoke marijuana," she said.

Mrs. Towne is unusual in that she has been able to become publicly identified with WEBA, since her husband is supportive of her involvement. 
The group tries to keep information and counseling as confidential as possible, since many women have not told their husbands or children that they have had an abortion. 

The steps that she recommends to those who have experienced an abortion include: 

"Allow yourself to grieve.  Abortion makes you the mother of a dead baby.  Recognize that you are responding normally by grieving."

"Try to forgive those involved."

"Try to forgive yourself."

"Seek healing in GOD.  He knows so many of us are hurting."

For Suzanne Towne, there has been a new beginning, a healing which she says comes from "Our LORD Jesus Christ" and which she would like
to extend to those whose suffering she once shared. 
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"And GOD shall wipe away all tears from their eyes:  and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither
shall there be any more pain:  For the former things are passed away" 
- Revelation 21:4