I was 20 years old when I found out I was pregnant. I had gotten a copper IUD inserted just 4 months before when I began dating my then-boyfriend who wanted to have sex without condoms.
I had thought the IUD, with an over 99% success rate, would be a guarantee against pregnancy. Since it can remain in place for 10 years, I was excited to throw away my birth control pills and never have to worry about being pregnant again.
I was a junior in college and planning to study abroad for my second semester. My boyfriend and I decided we didn’t want to have a long-distance relationship and broke up a few weeks before I was set to leave. The next week, I missed my period (which had always been regular to the day), and a week later it still hadn’t come. I thought with an IUD there was no way I could be pregnant and struggled to find a reason my period was late (I had been a little stressed with the end of the semester? Maybe my eating habits had changed?).
Finally, after 2 weeks of denial, I took a pregnancy test and it instantly showed up positive. I sobbed for hours, unable to understand how this could have happened when I thought I had been protecting myself. I had always been pro-choice and immediately knew I would get an abortion. I told my parents who were supportive, but I knew it was hard on them after having struggled with infertility for years themselves.
I debated whether or not to tell my former boyfriend, who I hadn’t talked to since we broke up. Finally, I decided to call him the night before the procedure and he was extremely supportive, saying he was happy I told him and making sure I felt ok about everything.
A week before I was set to leave the country for 5 months, I went to Planned Parenthood to get an abortion. The staff were extremely compassionate, helpful, and capable. While I knew this was the right decision and I didn’t feel any regret, the whole experience was still harder than I had expected. I found out I was actually pregnant with twins and couldn’t help but think about who they would have been if I had carried out the pregnancy.
Afterwards, I sometimes felt sad about the situation, but knowing there were hundreds of other women who had been through the same thing made me feel less alone and like my feelings of sadness were normal, even if I didn’t feel guilt or regret. I feel so lucky to live in a place where abortions are accessible and safe and can’t imagine how much worse my situation would be in other parts of the world. All women deserve to have that same opportunity to choose how they want to live their lives, in an environment that is safe and supportive.