I wasn’t raped; I wasn’t a victim of incest. I was simply young, and careless, and in a very, very bad place in my life.

I didn’t know where I’d be living in a month, or when I’d be able to get a good and filling meal. I couldn’t go home to my parents, but being a young pretty girl, I could get as much alcohol and as many drugs as I wanted for free. This made the uncertainty of where I was living or when I was eating a little less horrible. But I was full of so much pain, and so much anger, that I was incapable of behaving in a way that allowed me to keep a job or a living situation for more than a few months.

My partner was a sweet man struggling with a lot of demons. If we had had a child, that child would have been fatherless by the age of seven. It seemed to me then, as it does now, unconscionable to bring a child into that situation. Fortunately in New York in the 80s, there were a lot of options for women in my situation. The clinic had a sliding scale; they didn’t lecture me; I didn’t have to wade through people waving photos of fetuses in my face or calling me a murderess, let alone a madman with a long gun. Overall, it was pretty painless.

In the many years since then, I’ve finished my education, getting a PhD. I’ve taught at several universities, and consulted for NASA. I currently work at Harvard. I’ve reconciled with my mother, and we have a strong and supportive relationship. I’ve grown into the type of woman I never thought I’d be. I’m pretty certain none of this would have been possible if I’d been trying to raise a child while I was trying to pull myself out of the horrible place I was in at the time when I got pregnant.