I had an abortion last fall, at age 22. I had just moved across the country following my graduation and was working long hours at low pay to gain clinical experience in hopes of getting into medical school. It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through, but it was the right choice for me and it does get easier with time.

The father was someone I cared a lot about. As a little background, he was someone that I met my freshman year of college when he offered to let me sleep on his futon after I missed the bus back to my dorm. We became friends after that, and on/off would become more then friends throughout our college careers. We had lost touch a bit during senior year of college, and I remember sitting on my couch with my best friends right after graduation, talking about the people who made our college years so meaningful, and he came to mind.

I sent him a message. I told him that I was glad to have known him in college and hoped to keep in touch. And we did. We talked a lot that first summer that I was living out west, he sent me a mixed CD based on an inside joke and wrote me a letter. And my feelings for him came back. So, when I traveled back to my old college town that fall to tour a graduate program, where he was still living, I ended up spending the night with him. I wasn’t on birth control because I hadn’t been seeing anyone, but we used protection.

Which is why when my period never came, I didn’t understand. I bought 6 pregnancy tests, and one by one they came back positive. The feeling of my world caving in, as I sat alone, in a new city where I knew no one, is one of the most intimate and sad moments I have shared with myself. I called him, and he didn’t answer. So, I texted him “can you call me?” and waited what seemed like an eternity.

A few minutes later he called, and I lost it. The first words I uttered immediately after telling him were, “I don’t think I can have a child right now.” And he said, “I support that.” He ended up flying to be with me for the procedure. When I picked him up from the airport, we hugged and when we got back to my apartment we talked about it. We talked about the situation and about the “what-ifs.” He held me and kissed me, and even though I was sad, I was glad to have him with me.

After the procedure, I told him I loved him. He told me he couldn’t say the same, but that he cared about me. Afterward, he continued to treat me with affection, and he helped take care of me. We kissed, and he held my hand, and we made a lot of intense eye contact. And, while it was a heavy few days, we were still able to laugh, to tour my new city and act the way we had before everything happened.

And then, on the last night that he was in town, he told me that he didn’t see any future between the two of us. And my heart broke. He told me with everything that happened, he couldn’t really see a friendship or relationship, that it was all too much seeing me in that room. It felt like I had lost everything.

He called me to let me know that he made it home from the airport, and we talked once on the phone in that first month afterward, but the conversation went similarly to our last, and he never checked in again.

I did get into graduate school, and as fate would have it, I am in the same city as him. He called once on realizing that we would live in the city, and to let me know that he has a girlfriend, so that I would hear it from him first.

Having an abortion is one of the most intimate and painful experiences and choices a woman has to make. While I don’t doubt that it is an incredibly difficult experience for men as well, I do believe that men have the ability to choose their involvement. In my case, I don’t know that the father thought much about it after the fact; if he did, he never shared. But I lived it. There are so many reminders, and I had so many days where I would be hit with a tidal wave of sadness and mourning.

But here I am, over a year later. I am on my way to becoming a doctor. I made the hardest choice I’ve ever made, to honor the child in me, who had goals and ambitions, who had wanted to work as a physician since I was in the 4th grade, in the place of having a child in the present. And today I am happy and I am healthy.

In the wake of all the attacks on women’s rights, I urge everyone to think about all of the young women out there who have not had a chance to honor their inner children, to fully ignite their fires that have so much good to give this world. It is not our right to put out their fire and make them mothers when they are not ready. It is her right to choose.

To all the women who may be struggling with one of the hardest decisions of your life, I am here to say that you are loved and you are enough. There will be so many beautiful and bright days ahead.