In 1989, when the Supreme Court ruled in the Webster Decision, I hearkened the call to become active in the pro-choice movement. I helped co-found a pro-choice group on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, then later helped in pro-choice groups on the campuses of Clemson University and Emory University. Throughout those years, I volunteered with Planned Parenthood and NARAL in defending clinics against attacks by anti-choice groups. I was firmly committed to making sure every woman had the right to a safe, legal abortion.

In 1998, the pro-choice issue became personal for me, as I found myself pregnant for the first time at the age of 34. I had only known the father for a month, and we were both full-time students. At that time, it was inconceivable for either of us that we were in any position to bring a baby into the world. We were not mentally, emotionally, or financially prepared for it. We discussed it, and both agreed the best option was abortion. My boyfriend accompanied me to the clinic.

A year later, I became pregnant again from the same boyfriend. By then, I was finishing my degree at Georgia State University. I was 35, and I thought long and hard. Maybe I would not have another chance at motherhood. I chose to have the baby. Now, I am the proud mother of an incredible 16-year-old daughter. I feel that I made the right decision in both circumstances. To have an abortion when I did, and to give birth when I was ready. Both choices were my choices and I stand proud for these decisions. By making these choices, I have been able to devote myself to raising my daughter who has become the most amazing young woman.

I will never forget the words of a woman I met during the early years of my activism. When she got pregnant, her boyfriend wanted to force her to have an abortion. She said:

“If it is possible for someone to force you to carry out a pregnancy against your will, then it is also possible for someone to force you to have an abortion against your will.”

Choice means the ability to choose for yourself, without shame. By signing my real name, I hope other women (and men) will have the power to tell their stories. Additionally, I can never and will never support a candidate that does not support abortion rights and funding for family planning services.

Elizabeth Bercaw,