It was 1976, and I was a 17-year-old recent high school graduate. I was looking forward to my first semester in college.

The time must have been the heyday of safe, legal abortions, because the nurse at the health department handed me a sheet listing all the places in the state I could go to have it done at the same time she gave me my test results. The list of clinics took up the front and back of a legal-sized sheet of paper.

The father and I went to the clinic together. There was an hour of “mandatory counseling,” which was mostly spent describing the procedure. Then the women were called in groups of four to go through each stage together. Among the others in my group was the wife of a serviceman, who had been exposed to Rubella early in her pregnancy. Her doctor had recommended the abortion. Another was a mother of 4. Her pregnancies had been hard on her physically. Her doctor had told her husband that having another baby could kill her.

I got through the procedure fine, except for a bit of cramping. A few days later, I was crying over my lost baby. I’ve never forgotten him, 37 years later.

Ironically, I met the love of my life two months later, and got married three years later. I am amazed at how much my life changed in that time, and how well I could have cared for a child just three short years later. Except, of course, that I wouldn’t have met the man I was married to for 29 years if I had been pregnant.

When I was ready to have a baby, my daughter was born into a house with two loving parents who had college degrees and had been married for 5 years. She was desperately wanted. I think that’s how every child’s life should be. I don’t regret my abortion, even though it means I never met my son.