I am 57 years old and just two people know I have had an abortion – my partner at the time and my sister. I have never told a soul – until now – that I have actually had three. The shame has been too great.

My first pregnancy occurred when I was 22, while using “the rhythm method”. My boyfriend was not supportive of a pregnancy.

The second time, the diaphragm failed me. My boyfriend, again, was not supportive.

The third time, my boyfriend had said “Let’s make a baby”…but when I became pregnant, he promptly back pedaled, saying he wasn’t ready after all.

I was brought up by a Catholic mother who had always told me that if I got pregnant outside marriage, she would “put me in a home for unwed mothers and the baby would be put up for adoption”. End of discussion.

What was I to do? I was poor, I had no support, I could not bear the idea of subjecting my potential children to my sad, unstable life. In a way, I felt that to abort was to protect them from a hostile world.

Protestors yelled at me outside clinics. I must have thought I deserved an even greater punishment because the third time, I did not pay the extra money it cost for anesthesia and went through the procedure without it, clutching the clothing of a nurse who offered me no comforting words and listening to a doctor talk to everyone else in the room but say nothing to me. There was no kindness.

I never had children. I never married. Yet despite all the heartache, I still do not regret the decisions I made in my 20’s – they were necessary at the time, for myself and for those “kids” who were never meant to be.

But I do sometimes cry for that girl that I was: lost, alone, traumatized, disappointed, ashamed. She’s the one who most needed to be valued, supported, and loved. She. Not the embryos.