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Her Restless Heart Finds Healing At Last

by | Mar 12, 2021

 By Bonnie Finnerty, Education Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation.

Editor’s note. This is the final post examining Sue Ellen Browder’s “Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution to Highjack the Women’s Movement.” This installment speaks volumes about what Browder described as the “hushed mourning” she and her husband endured over her abortion.

Growing up in a small town, Sue Ellen Browder longed to one day find success in a big bustling city. So landing in Hollywood as an already accomplished writer may have seemed like a dream come true.

As she details in the final chapters of her memoir Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement, Hollywood, however, was just another alluring mirage that would give way to stark reality.

Despite Browder’s prolific and principled husband pouring his heart into one screenplay after another, he faced a steady stream of rejection.

After Browder, renowned for her articles in Cosmopolitan and other publications, appeared on the highly-rated Oprah show, she was left deflated by the experience.  “Fame, like glamour, had become for me just another sick illusion,” she writes ruefully.

The hardships piled up–unexpected health issues, never-ending financial worries, and rising marital tension. Depressed and at times, even suicidal, Browder felt like there was nothing that could ease her angst.

She explains how her newly emptied nest magnified her despair. When her daughter returned to college one semester, Browder had a breakdown. Unloading the dishwasher she deliberately smashed every plate on the tile floor.  Later, she realized this outburst was fueled “at least in part from my unresolved grief over the abortion” decades before.

Miraculously, in the midst of this dark emotional chaos, a light appeared.

Her husband began to read again and was captivated by  Confessions, St. Augustine’s classic  spiritual autobiography. Browder sensed a newfound sense of hope growing in her husband that she envied.

In an effort to find greater peace and beauty in life, the couple resettled in a home nestled in the magnificent Redwood forest. Here they would find what they were looking for and more. Their desire to know “God’s reality,” an unchanging truth, led them to the Catholic faith.

Just moments into their first meeting with a priest, Browder’s husband blurted out that they had an abortion. The priest simply nodded, but Browder herself was shocked.

She writes, “I had no idea Walter considered the abortion ‘ours.’ It had never occurred to me that all these years he had been silently grieving right along with me.” 

Like that of many couples, theirs had been a hushed mourning. Profound grief simmered under the surface.

As part of her journey into the Catholic Church, Browder received the Sacrament of Reconciliation in which sins are forgiven. She thought she would finally find healing. 

But even after her first confession she suffered in silence, unable to let go of self-blame.  “I feared if I ever started talking about the abortion, I would never stop crying,” Browder writes.

Her post-abortion trauma led her back to the confessional. She began to trust in God’s endless mercy. “After a quarter century of unspoken grief over the abortion, I at last begin to be healed. The Church, in her all-forgiving love, is so beautiful that I feel as if I’m living inside a two-thousand-year-old poem.” 

It is from this long-sought place of serenity that Browder can look back at her life’s journey and at the women’s movement she once revered to see where she and we have gone wrong.

“Love for God and others, including love for the little person in the womb, is what gives meaning to life, even in the midst of pain and suffering.  This is the unseen dimension of women’s lives that the Mere Fifty-Seven overlooked…when they created a pro-abortion political agenda….”

Her allusion to “the Mere 57 women” is the number who, voting at the National Organization for Women’s 2nd convention, inserted abortion into NOW’s  platform, making it an “official” part of their mission.

Brower’s memoir is a lesson to us all, generously offered by way of her own pain and redemption, skillfully crafted by her talent as a writer.  We would be wise to keep her book within reach and explore its pages from time to time. 

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