In 2006, Mary Y. Fainn, a disc jockey on WJIA, a Christian radio station in Guntersville, Alabama, needed to fill airtime. She decided to book as her guest Sheila Harper, founder of SaveOne, an abortion recovery ministry affiliated with the Assemblies of God. Though admittedly abortion recovery isn’t typical conversation for a morning-drive radio program, Fainn wanted to help listeners find healing.
“Abortion recovery ministry was fairly new at that time, so I wanted to find out more about it,” Fainn says. “And I wanted others to know there was a ministry out there for them.” By others, she is referring to the one in three post-abortive Christian women who regularly attend church. Fainn also had a personal interest. She had an abortion 17 years earlier, in 1989.
Though Fainn had been raised in a Baptist church in Floyd, Virginia, the self-admitted “wild child” drifted from her religious upbringing when, in 1986 at the age of 25, she moved to Phoenix with a friend. She found a job as a bartender and filled her free time with parties, drugs, alcohol, and sex. In a relationship and pregnant three years later, she didn’t feel ready to become a mother.
While she considered abortion morally wrong, Fainn feared that if she had the baby, the child would suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome, as Fainn regularly used illicit drugs and alcohol. So she scheduled an abortion, took $400 cash, and popped a Valium — which the abortion facility had provided — along with a shot of whiskey and two bong hits. Then she drove herself to her appointment.
“They had to have known I was so wasted, but it didn’t seem to faze the nurse,” Fainn remembers. The abortionist stepped into the room and without a word, performed a suction procedure.
“It was so painful,” Fainn recalls. “The sound of the suction sickened me.” After finishing, a nurse escorted her into a recovery waiting room before showing the client the back door, warning to go to a hospital emergency room if any problems developed.
“I drove home a completely different woman,” Fainn says.
Anger and self-loathing became her intimate companions. When suicidal thoughts began invading her mind, she knew she needed to seek help. But a psychologist informed her that abortion had no connection with her troubles. After hours spent in therapy, she felt no closer to experiencing healing.
More bad news came when she learned that the abortion procedure had left her so scarred she never would be able to give birth to a child. Devastated, she thought back to the childhood church she’d attended.
“I wondered if God was the answer to what I’d been looking for,” she says. Fainn connected with a church and “got real with Jesus.”
In 1994, she moved to Guntersville, Alabama, for a job, and established a church home at Lake City Assembly. She found a pregnancy center that offered abortion recovery classes and at last experienced healing. When Fainn met Sheila Harper during her stint as a DJ, she knew she needed to introduce SaveOne to the center where she served as a volunteer. Soon she started a SaveOne chapter in Guntersville and led it until she married Curtis Fainn in 2012 and moved to North Carolina in 2014.
More committed than ever to abortion recovery because of her own healing and the healing she’s witnessed of so many others, today Fainn, now 59, works full time as the chief operations director of the Pregnancy Support Center in Salisbury and will be taking over the CEO position in a few months. She also started a SaveOne chapter in her new home state and serves as the North Carolina chapter coordinator, where she leads classes three times a year out of Multiply Church (formerly Concord First Assembly) in suburban Charlotte. She has trained other facilitators ready to help.
One of those facilitators, Kelly McGlenn, knows firsthand the power of abortion recovery healing and is grateful that Fainn took her through the SaveOne recovery program. McGlenn had two abortions as a teenager.
“Mary meets people where they are and that’s the genuine heart of God in her,” McGlenn says. “She wants to see women, men, and families healed and whole.”
Looking back over her journey, Fainn is amazed by how God has redeemed her life. She has a strong relationship with her stepdaughter, Brittany, and relishes the time she gets to spend as a grandma to her 2½-year-old granddaughter, Kirby Leigh.
“Family and life are the very heart of God,” she says passionately. “The enemy tries so hard to destroy us from the womb. But God forgives and heals.”
Photo: Mary Fainn (right) now works with SaveOne founder Sheila Harper.