I was 21 when I became pregnant with my third child, fathered by my alcoholic, physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive husband. Early in the pregnancy, after he was arrested for hitting me, I finally found the strength, and courage to leave him, and file for divorce.

At that point, I became a single, pregnant mother of two, with no job. I knew that bringing another child into the world would be detrimental to that child’s life, and there was no way my soon-to-be ex-husband would allow me to give the baby up for adoption – and I would sooner die myself than leave my child in the care and custody of a violent alcoholic. Unfortunately the courts failed me, and his DV case was dismissed, along with my restraining order. My hands were tied. For weeks, I agonized over the decision to either keep the baby, or have an abortion. I was racked with guilt, and my heart was in shambles.

I went to Planned Parenthood, not knowing if I could go through with the procedure. The medical professionals there were so kind and compassionate. They never tried to sway me to make one choice or the other, and their main concern was making sure I made the best decision for me, the baby, and my already born children. I scheduled the abortion for a couple weeks after that.

I woke up the morning of my appointment a complete mess. For so long, I touted the same talking points of extreme pro-lifers – abortion was murder. Women who had abortions were baby killers. A close friend tried to console me, but all I could manage to say was “You’re not the one killing your baby today!”. My emotions were all over the place, and yet, I still knew this was the best choice. I told my baby that right now just wasn’t the time to be born, and that I was saving him/her from a difficult life. That he/she deserved better than to be born into the mess that was my life. I told him/her that I loved him/her, and that I hope one day he/she would return to me.

During the procedure, the nurses and doctors were incredibly sympathetic, supportive, and caring. I felt safe, I felt cared for. I can’t remember any pain. After the abortion, I was given birth control, and additional medication to deal with some slight bleeding. I left knowing exactly what to watch out for, and how to help myself heal. For months after the procedure, I was emotional. I regretted the choice I made, and I wished I could take it all back. I didn’t have anyone other than my mom to talk to about it, because I was afraid of the judgment that would come from others…the same judgment I used to spew. I didn’t want anyone to think any less of me, so I kept it locked away. Eventually, I had friends come to ME about their own stories, and I found others I was able to talk to about it. Being able to talk about it, knowing that other women I knew and loved went through the same thing, helped me heal.

So many people think choosing to have an abortion is a decision made on a whim, or with little to no regard to the life of the child, and it’s simply not true. No woman finds out she’s pregnant, and happily skips off to her nearest abortion clinic with pride. It’s an agonizing decision. One made with tears, and compassion, and love, and all these emotions one simply couldn’t even begin to understand unless they’ve been through it.

It’s because of the women who spoke up and shared their stories with me that I now no longer live with pain and regret over my abortion. It’s because of these women that I support a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, and her right to a safe and legal abortion. If you’ve been through this, and you’re secretly harboring negative emotions – find someone you can talk to. Know that you are not alone. You are loved, and you are supported.