GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Tammy Erste has spent the last two decades full of regret and shame following her abortion in her 20s.

“What makes me any different than someone who’s sitting in a prison cell because they murdered another human being? Nothing. The only difference is that Michigan said it was legal for me to do it at the time,” she said.

Erste, who works for Grand Rapids Right to Life, said she wished abortion had not been legal or not nearly as accessible as it was when she was young. Although she wanted the child, she feared her partner would have left her if she had not followed through with their decision. She said he used “words like, ‘I can’t guarantee I’ll stick around. I don’t know what will happen.’”

So Erste, who was not aware that there were programs like Pregnancy Resource Center, went through with the appointment.

“What I remember most is overwhelming shame. So overwhelming that I could not stop crying uncontrollably,” Erste said. “I wept and wept and wept in their waiting room … I just remember begging God to forgive me, over and over and over again, but it was done. It was too late. I couldn’t undo what I already done.”

Initially, even someone saying the word “abortion” would send Erste into a state of tears. She said she spent years ignoring what had happened. She even destroyed all of her medical paperwork associated with the procedure.

“It’s like you can convince you’re mind that if you’re only four weeks, it’s not really a baby yet. That’s what culture tells you. That’s what the abortion industry tells you,” she said. “You can convince yourself to believe the lie and that’s what I did. That’s how I was able to get through it.”

It took Erste years of prayer, faith work and therapy to finally accept her decision. She said she wished she had known there were other options because that single decision has and will continue to impact her life.

“A tiny stone, even a pebble causes a ripple effect in a pond,” she said. “That’s what abortion does in your life. It affects every aspect of your being and every relationship that you have in your life.”

Erste said that through her prayer the name Josiah came to her. Josiah means “mighty warrior, God heals. So that spoke a lot to me,” she said. She said she knew in that moment her aborted baby was a boy.

Tammy Erste has spent the last two decades full of regret and shame following her abortion in her 20s.

Erste serves as a type of liaison between area churches and Right to Life Grand Rapids. She starts the difficult conversation many run away from, offering counsel to those who are considering or have already aborted a child.