Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Joy and sorrow over Supreme Court decision on abortion  

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published July 8, 2022

When I heard that Roe v. Wade had been overturned, I cried tears of joy, because a dark weight was lifted from the world. I also wept in sorrow, however, because I couldn’t help but wonder “What if abortion had been illegal when I decided to have one?” I don’t believe I was alone in my reaction, since millions of women like me who regret their abortions, are probably thinking along similar lines.  

My story is all too familiar. I started out as a Catholic schoolgirl who attended Mass regularly with her parents and prayed every day. I considered Catholicism to be part of my deepest identity, just like being Italian was. I was totally unprepared for the attack on Christianity that was waiting for me in college.  

After a few months at the University of Florida, I was filled with doubts. After all, my professors held doctoral degrees and were much more experienced than I was. They considered religion to be some quaint artifact of primitive tribes. They saw God as a vestige of earlier times and believed happiness comes from breaking the old rules.  

Rather than discussing the pros and cons of beliefs, they used the classroom as a way to indoctrinate students. Little by little, my childhood beliefs were chipped away and before long, I was a self-proclaimed atheist and radical feminist with a strong penchant for Marxism.  

After graduate school, I eventually moved to Atlanta and began teaching college courses in philosophy. Like the professors before me, I emphasized the absurdity of believing in God and following a religion. Years later, I would find a quote by Thomas Merton that aptly described my life: “I was stamping the last remains of spiritual vitality out of my own soul, and trying to obliterate…the image of divine liberty that had been  implanted in me by God.”  

In my philosophy classes, we examined moral issues including abortion, and I argued that a woman’s rights always take precedence over the fetus, which was just a “clump of cells.” This was long before medical technology revealed the movements of the little one in the womb and long before heartbeats could be detected.  

When I became pregnant outside of marriage, I didn’t anguish over the situation. After all, I had read numerous feminist articles describing abortion as a quick and easy solution to my problem. The only line I mentally drew in the sand was that when it came to abortion, the earlier, the better.  

I went into the clinic with these thoughts in mind, and came out thoroughly stunned, because the procedure had been agonizing, emotionally and physically. The worst moment came when a nurse said, “You were farther along than we thought.”  

In the coming months I began having flashbacks to that day. Looking at a newborn would bring me to tears, and when I heard a baby crying in a department store, I had to leave. Worse yet, the nurse’s words haunted me for years, as did the question, “How old would my child be now?” 

Fortunately, when I returned to Catholicism, I found forgiveness and mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation. Thanks to spiritual direction by a priest, I came to understand and accept Catholic teachings on life.  

Would I have had an abortion if it had been illegal? I can say with full certainty the answer is no. Legality made abortion seem like just another medical procedure with no moral overtones. I know I wouldn’t have had an illegal abortion, but instead would have done what millions of women before me did, which was welcome the little soul into the world.  

Recently, there were pro-abortion demonstrators standing outside a Catholic church, where my friend had just attended Mass. He began talking with one of them, and she surprised him by saying, “I’ve had an abortion! What would you say to me?” He told me later his answer surprised him, so it must have come from the Holy Spirit: “I pray that someday you will meet your child in heaven, and she will forgive you.”  

After all these years and so many tears, this is also my prayer.  

Artwork, “The Innocents,” is by Lorraine’s late husband, Jef ( Her email address is