I am a 23 year old woman from a small, extremely conservative town in rural Ohio. For years, I was fed ridiculous information in school and at church. I was taught that masturbation causes pregnancy, HIV is a death sentence and condoms are ineffective and dangerous. Over and over it was drilled into our heads that abortion was murder. And I believed it all until the day it happened to me.

I changed my mind on January 3, 2009, when I found out I was pregnant. 23 days earlier, on my 19th birthday, I became a victim of sexual assault. I had been on birth control since I was 12 to combat my endometriosis and adenomyosis, but since I moved to school and began supporting myself, I could no longer afford the $75/month to pay for my birth control. So, when I was assaulted, I was not protected against pregnancy.

On top of the many emotional problems I was facing after the assault, I was in a lot of physical pain. I had my suspicions so I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. While I knew it was a possibility, the pregnancy was still a shock to me and I knew that carrying to term would not be an option for me at that point. Due to the many reproductive health problems I faced, I was well aware of what I would face as an expectant mother. I would be considered a “high risk” patient and have to go in for ultrasounds every other week. Co-pays are expensive. I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I would also need to be on special medications that would have totaled almost $200/month.

The night I was assaulted was one of the scariest, most horrible nights of my life. To have a child through something like that would be devastating for me. As much as I would have loved that child, I would have never been able to give it the life that it deserved. I would never be able to look at it and love it fully knowing how it was conceived. There would be too much pain.

After I found out about the pregnancy and before plans were made for my abortion, I had heavily considered suicide. I was depressed. I was scared. I had no one I could tell. I would have rather died than carry the child of my rapist. I have never regretted my decision to have the abortion. I was comforted by the wonderful nurses at the clinic and saw a counselor there for several months after the procedure to help me cope. It was one of the best medical experiences I have ever had. I have never felt more compassion or kindness from a physician and their staff.

Because of the abortion I was able to continue school. I went on to graduate from my university cum laude with a degree in visual communications. I have a job and I pay taxes. None of this would have been possible without my decision to follow through with my abortion.