When I was 18 I went through a bit of a rough patch, and did not have access to my birth control. I ended up becoming pregnant for the first time. As soon as I told my much older then-boyfriend, he skipped town and I never saw him again.

However, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to continue the pregnancy.

The pregnancy that followed was one of the worst experiences of my life. Also, my body was ruined in ways that I didn’t even know was possible. I thought about suicide. I was still living with my parents, but they could not physically or financially take care of a baby. I also wanted to go to college, and wished that my child have a full family with both parents, and maybe even a sibling or two. Eventually, I gave birth through c-section to a (thankfully healthy) baby girl, whom I gave to a loving and well-off family in an open adoption. We still keep in touch, and my daughter knows who I am. But after that experience I decided, if I ever got pregnant again before I was ready for a child, that I would get an abortion. I did not think I would ever want children, but my doctor still refused to even give me an intrauterine device due to my age.

I had my first, and so far only, abortion when I was 27. (I am now 30.) I had just moved to a new city and could not get to the doctor in time to procure my annual birth control prescription, and so was only a couple of days late taking it. However, my live-in boyfriend at the time “forgot” to use protection, and surprisingly, I became pregnant. I decided to get an abortion, and he did not protest. I did not have much money, so I went to Planned Parenthood for the procedure. Luckily I had discovered my pregnancy fairly quickly.

Sitting in the very full waiting room for hours before the procedure, some of the women got to talking. One was a mother of four who could not afford, nor wanted, another child. Another woman was there for her young teenage daughter. We waited and waited, not knowing what to expect. Before the procedure, I was taken into a room and told to take off my clothes, and for whatever reason someone I assume was a nurse performed an internal sonogram.

Having the surgical abortion was the single most painful experience of my life. I was awake, bawling and in severe pain the entire time, while trying to remain still, with my legs wide open. Hopefully I will never need an abortion again, but if I do, I will utilize a different approach. After the procedure they sent me, along with others, into a room for a few minutes to try to recover. It took a long time for the abdominal pain to subside.

In the days immediately following the procedure, I did think about what may have been, and whether there was any difference between embryos and other non-conscious masses of cells. I do not believe there is. But safe and legal abortions are important for keeping actual living babies out of garbage cans. I was just glad to have discovered the pregnancy before it was too late.

I know that having the abortion was the right choice for me, and I’m so glad that I did have the option to make my own decision. It was the best decision for me, and for my unsupportive and irresponsible ex. Also, the world is already overpopulated. People are terrible for the environment, and I believe that every child should have a loving home with a family that really wants a baby. I would not want to put any further strain on America’s already underfunded social programs. There are already so many children out there in need of good homes.

In the past few years since the abortion, I have earned my master’s degree, and found a wonderful man whom I intend to marry. We may decide to have a child in a few years, since he would love to be a father. If we do eventually have a kid, I intend to pursue more permanent birth control options afterward. Family planning is of the utmost importance for women to be able to have power over their own lives. Controlling births is the responsible thing to do.