I am pro-life. I am a woman of faith, but I have a story to tell.

When I was 16, I became pregnant. It was the summer of 1987. My then boyfriend, Tom, had just graduated high school. Neither one of us thought we were ready to be parents.

Tina Dziuk

The thought of telling my mother seemed out of the question. My mom was an amazing woman who would have supported me no matter what, but, in my heart, I didn’t want to disappoint her.

Neither Tom nor I spoke to our families before we decided on an abortion. I remember waiting anxiously to leave the morning of my appointment when my mom called. She said she wanted to take me shopping after work. I thought to myself “Of all days, how could she choose today?”

I tried to get out of it and told her Tom and I already had plans in town that day. Still, she insisted. My mom wanted to go to the mall to buy me clothes. Not wanting to alert her to anything, I reluctantly agreed.

My mind was in a million places as Tom drove me to the abortion clinic. To this day, I can’t tell you where the clinic was or how to get there — only that it was in Albuquerque.

I remember lying on a cold table, the nurse telling me to count backwards and suddenly feeling relaxed. Soon, a doctor arrived and told me I was going to “feel some pressure.”

I did. But I felt more — shame, regret and sadness.

After it was over, Tom held me while I cried. All I wanted to do was go home and hide in the safety of my bed. Instead, hours after taking the life of my first child, I was with my mom shopping — traumatized and confused.

To this day, it’s still unbelievable to me.

As a teenager, there was a lot I didn’t know about life. Unable to feel my child in the first trimester, I had yet to develop a connection with the life inside me. How ironic that later I would feel so empty.

Tom and I eventually married, but he died of leukemia at age 32. The burden we had always carried together became much more painful following his death.

I didn’t know the guilt and shame would silence me for 35 years. I didn’t know I needed healing, nor how to get it. I didn’t know how to ask for forgiveness or forgive myself.

Now my deepest desire for those who have experienced what I had is that you be whole, and know you are not alone.

It’s time to try to emotionally heal from the damage caused by easy and accessible abortions. It’s hard but you have to forgive yourself.

Too many underage girls are having abortions, especially in New Mexico where these young girls don’t need parental consent.

Life is not always easy. If you know any pregnant girl in need, don’t judge, but encourage them to choose life and offer her assistance in any way you can.

My story is a simple truth: a minor’s quick decision carries major consequences. I’ve forgiven my choice, but I will always regret it.

(Tina Dziuk is the national committeewoman for the Republican Party of New Mexico. She is also a graduate of Belen High School.)

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Tina Dziuk, guest columnist