Linda Swayn thanks God often for the gift of life.
Though her childhood, by most people’s standards, would be considered very difficult – she survived an abortion and was abandoned by her parents after being born with numerous health problems – Swayn sees her life from a different perspective, one of joy and thankfulness.
According to Live Action News, the New Zealand woman survived a drug-induced abortion in the 1960s when abortions were still illegal there.
“My mother had an unexpected pregnancy with a married man who already had a daughter that was about 4 years old,” Swayn told the Rev. James Lyons, chaplain of the Home of Compassion, in an interview. “And it was a shock to her. She didn’t want her parents to know she was pregnant, so she got hold of a drug called methotrexate, and methotrexate is a drug that’s used to be able to abort the fetus. However, I survived.”
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Methotrexate is not commonly used for abortions now because the drug frequently fails to kill the unborn baby, especially if used later in pregnancy. The drug also can cause birth defects of the brain and spine, as happened with Swayn, according to Live Action.
Born prematurely, Swayn suffered from numerous medical problems and spent the first 18 months of her life in the hospital, the report continues.
“One of the main issues with the surviving of an abortion under the methotrexate drug is that it affected the skull, so I’ve got two holes in the back of my skull,” she said. “So I’ve only got two toes on each foot, which is one big toe and one other. So I’ve had surgery on my feet to help me walk properly when I was about 6 years old. And I’ve had surgery on my skull … as well as surgery on my eyes.”
Abandoned by her parents, she said a Catholic charity run by the Sisters of Compassion in Island Bay took her in and raised her. There, Swayn said she grew up receiving the love and care that she needed.
“My life was full of joy and happiness,” she said in the interview. “My medical needs were met. My surgical needs were met. And my social skills needs were met because there were so many children. You weren’t isolated. I had the best education. There was lots of land to play on. We had lots of things to do.”
As an adult, Swayn became a teacher and a special needs advocate with the New Zealand Special Education Association, according to the report. She also spent time serving the poor with Mother Teresa in India, which made a huge impact on her attitude about life.
“It changed me in the sense that — never to complain about what you haven’t got and accept what you have got. And never complain what you can’t do and accept what you can,” Swayn said.
When she was about 10, she said the sisters told her how she survived an abortion. Swayn said she forgave her mother, and she continues to thank God for the gift of her life – a lesson she learned from Suzanne Aubert, who founded the Sisters of Compassion.
“She often prayed daily and we children did also in our morning and evening prayers, ‘Thanks be to God for all He has done and is doing for us,’” Swayn said. “And I lived it day to day, thanking God for all He has done and is doing for us.
“The greatest gift I have received is life. God has given me the greatest gift of life,” she added.