After reading about Ohio’s new “heartbeat bill,” my heart nearly stopped. To this day, it was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I was 19, and had no idea what I wanted in life. I knew I would figure it out eventually, but was in no rush. I was young, wild, and free.

Until the second I found out I was pregnant. I remember every second of that day. I remember the feelings that flooded my existence. I remember the rush of thoughts that ran through my head. I remember the look on his face when I told him it was positive. I remember telling my mom the next day. She held me and we cried, together, for at least an hour.

I remember sitting at the gynecologist. I was accompanied by my mom (who insisted on coming to support me) and my boyfriend at the time. He was selfish, verbally and emotionally abusive, and was only there because I made him come. He’d much rather had been out with his friends. I tried to hide it, but I was terrified.

I was there for an ultra sound. I needed to see how far along I was before I could make a decision for my future. The nurse asked if I wanted to hear the heartbeat. I don’t know why, but I said “yes.” I think it’s because I needed to know that this was real. Until this moment, I wasn’t sure.

I remember the heart beat. It was soft and steady. It was healthy. It was beautiful.

I remember holding back tears in that moment of reality. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I had no idea what to do. The only thing I knew now was that this was not a dream. It became quite real in that moment.

Deep down, I think I knew all along what I needed to do. It wasn’t necessarily what I wanted, but I knew for myself, that it was right. I was still a kid, how could I possibly take care of one? I’m sure my (now ex) boyfriend would have fled (not that he would have been of any use anyway). I wasn’t anywhere near financially stable. I certainly wasn’t mature enough to make the right choices for myself, let alone my unborn child. I wasn’t confident in who I was. How could I possibly raise a happy child when I wasn’t happy with myself? All of these thoughts, plus so many more, led me to my decision.

I terminated my pregnancy because it was the right thing to do for my unborn fetus, and for myself. I wouldn’t have been able to raise a child the way they would have deserved to be raised. I wouldn’t have been able to provide them with the opportunities my parents had provided for me. I just wasn’t ready.

Looking back on what I’ve accomplished in the past 7 years makes me proud. I’ve become who I always wanted to be. I’m not saying I wouldn’t be happy if I had made a different decision – that’s an unknown that will never be recovered. But I’m OK with that. I’m allowed to be happy and confident in the decision I did make.

I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity and resources to have an abortion. So many women in this world don’t have a choice. They don’t have a voice. I can’t even imagine the heartache.

Yes, my unborn fetus had a heartbeat. But that doesn’t mean I don’t. I feel, I cry, I love. And one day, when I’m ready, I will nurture that little heartbeat with everything I’ve got.

It’s become much more seldom that I think about this time in my life, but it feels good to reflect. We are strong, powerful women, and we have our voices. Let’s not forget to use them in these coming years.