MYRTLE BEACH — Cathy Burrows said she knows firsthand how an abortion can cause a woman mental and spiritual trauma.
The Williamsburg County resident was persuaded by her parents to travel to New York in 1970 for an abortion because they said an out-of-wedlock pregnancy would have shamed their church-going family. As a result, she has been left with a lifetime of regret, shame and mental illness, she said.
Burrows told her story in an emotional testimony about the reality of post-abortion syndrome during the annual meeting of the Grand Strand Citizens for Life in the parish life center at St. Andrew Church on July 25.
Grand Strand Citizens for Life was founded in 1984 and has since become the main source of pro-life information and activism in the area, which includes Horry and Georgetown counties.
Burrows said her parents took her to New York because at the time, abortion was illegal in South Carolina. They told her she should have an abortion, she said, because their reputation and those of her sisters would be harmed if she continued the pregnancy.
“The nurse at the clinic said I could get on with my life,” Burrows said. “She didn’t know that as I lay there I felt death and hell all around me. The choice was made for me. Nothing they could have given me would have killed the pain.”
Burrows said she eventually married, and had children and grandchildren. Her family has always been supportive of her, even though she said it was very difficult to tell her husband what she went through.
She said the abortion led to extreme feelings of shame and loss and she went through several debilitating bouts of depression, including one so severe that she had to be hospitalized. Burrows credits her Christian faith and the support of her therapists for helping her cope. She held a memorial service for her unborn child at the National Memorial for the Unborn in Chattanooga, Tenn.
She decided to share her story with others after watching footage of the National Right to Life March in 2006.
“You never get over having an abortion, especially one you did not want,” Burrows said. “Thirty-nine years after having one, I am still under the care of a doctor. Abortion is not a quick fix and it does not solve any problems. The worst part of this is having to go through learning how to forgive yourself.”
Burrows hopes to tell her story to as many people as possible so they will realize that while abortion is harmful to women, there are ways for those who have had abortions to find help and learn to forgive themselves.
Her testimony was part of an informative and emotional meeting that drew about 50 people and covered topics related to the pro-life movement.
Holly Gatling, executive director of S.C. Citizens for Life, and Wayne Cockfield, a member of the GSCL board of directors, spoke about elements of proposed health care reform bills in Washington, D.C., that should concern those in the pro-life movement.
Cockfield, a retired Marine Corps sergeant, lost both of his legs in a landmine explosion in 1969. After going through years of surgeries and hospital stays, he has become an ardent pro-life activist, especially against what he describes as a push toward euthanasia of the disabled, elderly and other vulnerable people in the years since Roe v. Wade passed in 1973.
Gatling and Cockfield said several disturbing elements of proposed health care reform could lead to eventual rationing of certain kinds of services. They urged people to write and call their legislators, encouraging them to stand for life when they vote on health care issues.
“The fight now is not whether we will have a different health care system in the future, but what kind of system it’s going to be,” Cockfield said. “We need to make sure it’s a system that values human life — not only the sick but those who are chronically ill, those who are elderly and those who have birth defects. We have to make sure people like this are not going to be set up to be sent to the executioner.”
Reports were also given by organizations that work with GSCL to aid those facing crisis pregnancies, including Bethany Christian Services and Catholic Charities.
Suzanne Harris of Birthright in Georgetown described how it has evolved since its founding in 2002. In 2008, the office fielded 1,024 calls and received 1,108 office visits from women dealing with crisis pregnancy situations. Out of the 60 abortion-minded women who visited the office, 22 decided to continue their pregnancies.
Tom Herron, GSCL communications director, discussed plans to make the organizations’ message more visible on the Internet through pro-life videos posted on YouTube.
Herron also revealed a redesigned GSCL logo that provides a more modern look for their material. He said the group will continue advertising campaigns that include print, radio, TV, billboards and the Internet.
To learn more, visit www.grandstrandcitizensforlife.org.