Susan was one of the first to have a legal abortion

I was at high school in the 70s and you got to know of girls in your class, or your friends getting pregnant. I got pregnant myself in the 6th Form (Year 12), and even now I can't imagine how I allowed it to happen.

In the weekends I worked at the local Woolworths and there was this teenage guy who kept stalking me and asking around to his place. I must have been crazy but I went around and he spent two hours trying to coax me into bed. I refused and then two weeks later, I saw him just the once, we had sex and I got pregnant.

Around the same time, I had started going out with a wonderful Christian guy and I recorded all this in my journal. My Mum was cleaning my room one day and found the journal in which I had recorded missing my period.

Well she quickly arranged for me to see this woman doctor, who gave me the impression that what was growing in my womb was like a wart. She told me that an abortion clinic had recently opened in Auckland and she would take care of the arrangements.

Mum accompanied me on the flight to Auckland and we took a taxi to the Auckland Medical Aid Trust in the Great South Rd, near Newmarket. I hated the abortionist (the late Dr James Woolnough), he gave m
The abortion was in May, and every year around that date I felt an acute depression.
e the creeps.

Life goes on
But things settled down and I threw myself into church youth groups. I convinced myself, that Mum and Dad had been right, that the abortion was all about removing something like a wart. My career was going well and I thought life was just great.

At 21, I met my future husband, who was a devout Catholic. I felt a need to tell him about my abortion at 16. He seemed to accept it at the time, but a few months later he went cold on me and I could sense that the abortion really troubled him.

The guilt really hit me in my 20s when we moved to Auckland. Every time I went near Newmarket the memories came flooding back. Then there was a family reunion and I met other women who had had abortions.

Unwelcome reminders
There was a lot of pro-life activity at the time and every time I read something to do with abortion in the newspapers or magazines, I couldn't help being reminded of what had happened.

This was the time when I stopped going to church. Whenever the pastor mentioned abortion, I saw women quietly walk out of the church and I knew they were like me.

Time for a change
How could I keep going to church? Maybe it was time to give it all away and build a new life in the secular world.

All these questions were going around in my head, then one day I was driving along and I switched to Radio Rhema on the radio. There was this old pastor talking about abortion, quoting Scripture passages and how we need to uphold God's commandments.

I thought ?Yes, he's talking about me and my life. He's right, it was wrong and I need to make amends.'

Guilt and grief
Suffering from post-abortion trauma, I was in the grip of deep-rooted guilt and grief. They were so many frequent reminders of my abortion: just turning on the vacuum cleaner reminded me of the suction machine in the clinic, seeing babies in prams and pushchairs, baby pictures in magazines, or on television.

I never had any counselling, but the turning point was reading Scriptures and praying. I believe that God healed me and having my own children was a big factor.

Looking back, I can see that many teenage girls are so vulnerable. It's a time when you are self-absorbed, quite selfish ? and lonely, looking for affection and assurance.

It starts with little things, which is how I came to get taken in by that guy in Woolworths. It seems crazy, but I actually picked up the phone and rang him ? and that was because I was lonely.

Building on experience
I've been honest with my kids about what happened. I want them to be prepared and to resist peer pressure at school. In the end, I have had to face up to the abortion and get on with life. I want to use that experience for good, to counsel and support other women through a crisis pregnancy.