I was 25. I had no idea I was pregnant for the first 12 weeks. I took a trip home to Pennsylvania from New Mexico where I was living and found my body rejecting alcohol, smoking, and chocolate milk. I knew something was strange so I took two different pregnancy tests. Both came up with an error and so I tossed them out and thought nothing of it for a little while.

I bought a car in Pittsburgh and started driving it back to New Mexico. When I got to St. Louis, I knew for sure that something in my body was changing and so I bought another box of pregnancy tests, checking into a hotel after after a day’s worth of driving, and tested again. Both were positive. I called my mother crying. I was crying so hard I could barely breathe. This was always my worst nightmare. I always knew I never wanted children and my worst nightmare was to get pregnant, even though I had no doubt I’d get an abortion if the time ever came. My mom begged me to come back to Pittsburgh so that she could be there for me when I went for my abortion. But I wanted to forge on ahead.

During the many hours I drove alone across the country in my car, I made phone calls to Planned Parenthood and set up an appointment for an abortion the following week. My mom and I talked a lot while I was driving. She kept asking me if I was sure I wanted an abortion. I told her, “Mom, if I can drive across 9 hours of Kansas highway with dead baby signs every 1/2 mile, I think it’s fair to say I’m certain I want to have an abortion.”

The abortion cost me over $600, even with my income considered. I sold a gold coin I had had since I was a child and was able to pay for it, but just barely. I wondered what other women who don’t have that kind of money did. Were they forced to have a baby because they couldn’t put together $600?

While I was in the waiting room at the clinic, a young girl and her boyfriend came in. I people-watched everything that went on. She was turned away from the clinic and left crying. I assumed that she was underage and had used a fake ID to try to have an abortion. Her tears moved me to tears. I noticed the nurse who turned her away a little worked up too. What was she to do? Would her parents understand? Would she be supported if she asked for their consent to an abortion? Would she be forced by her family to carry the child to term against her own will?

This was all so much to take in. Because of restrictions on abortion, I just made the “cut-off” for my abortion at 13 weeks along. Had two more weeks passed, I would have been denied. What would I have done then? Would I too have been forced to have a baby?

Some people learn a lot about themselves when they have abortions. I learned a lot about how fortunate I was to make the choice to have an abortion, when so many circumstances can deny a woman this right. I don’t feel any shame talking about my abortion. I think it takes women like us to open up about our experiences to end the stigma around abortion. Maybe if that stigma subsides, money and age and parents and weeks along won’t be factors that can steal the right of women’s choice away.