January 14, 2003
KANSAS CITY — Sedated and lying on a table, a scared – but determined — 19-year-old girl heard the roar of the vacuum-like machine begin. She felt the scraping inside her body. They lied. It hurt.
She stumbled off the table and saw blood in the trashcan.
The abortion was complete. The 19-year-old girl could leave.
But her life was forever changed.
Dani Tolin, now 36, makes it her ministry to share her story of suffering and healing with other women who have experienced Post-Abortion Syndrome (PAS) and with women who are in crisis pregnancy situations.
"What was a temporary crisis became a lifelong problem for me," said Tolin, of Mobile, Ala., who, along with her husband, Joe, is a student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. They married five years ago while students at the University of Mobile.
But 17 years earlier, Dani Tolin recalled, she had become a typical statistic of post-abortion women.
"My grades went down, I drank, I partied; I didn’t care about anything. But my family was still unaware. I was the ‘good girl.’ I never got into trouble."
Tolin, who first went public with her testimony in her home church, Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile a few years ago, understands the mentality of a woman seeking an abortion.
"When you’re pregnant, your hormones are all over the place anyway, and you add on top of that a crisis situation, and it’s impossible to think rationally; that’s what happened to me," she said, noting that although the baby’s father supported her at the time, they eventually broke up.
This month, Tolin plans to participate in "Silent No More," a nationwide emphasis for women who regret their abortions to gather at their state capitols Jan. 18-26. Tolin will stand with other women at Missouri’s Capitol Jan. 25. A national gathering is set for Jan. 22 at the Capitol.
It was 10 years after her abortion beore Tolin began to heal emotionally and spiritually. Although she had been a believer since childhood, her baptism as an adult was a turning point in her Christian walk.
"To heal from PAS, I believe you hae to be a Christian," she said. "You can’t do this apart from God."
She began attending counseling and a post-abortion Bible study that concluded with a memorial service for the women’s babies. That’s when she named the baby Claudia Grace.
"It was a chance to pay our respects to a real child," Tolin said. "The world doesn’t acknowledge that it’s a real baby, but the reality is I lost a real baby, and it was my fault I lost my baby. I named her, and she’s in heaven, and one day, Joe and I will get to hold her."
Today, both Dani and her husband, Joe, are trained through Ramah International, a ministry aimed at helping post-abortion women – and men – deal with the effects of PAS. It’s a ministry for a large segment of society – 43 percent of women will have at least one abortion by the age of 45, according to Planned Parenthood’s research arm, the Alan Guttmacher Institute.
Tolin said that number is staggering – especially considering that virtually no one talks about it when a woman has an abortion.
"We can’t keep this in the dark," Dani said. "I remember being so embarrassed when I had to tell my family. But Satan thrives in the dark; it’s bondage. God wants our secret out in the light so we can heal."
The Tolins have three children: Abby, 4; Matthew, 2; and Katie Beth, 7 months.
"I look at my children now and think about how blessed I am," Tolin said through tears. "I am blessed because, except for the slip of a knife, I might not ever have had children. I am blessed that God would consider me to have children after what I did."
In March, that child would have been 17. In her memory, the Tolins plan to place a plaque on a memorial wall in Chattanooga, Tenn., that stands on the site of a former abortion clinic. (For more information about PAS or Ramah International, go to www.ramahinternational.org, or contact Dani Tolin at email@example.com.)