I was a dancer for eight years, from the time I was ten years old, and I was now eighteen. I was in a sexually active but abusive relationship, and was still getting regular heavy periods. One day, looking in the mirror, I noticed I’d started to gain weight and my breasts seemed larger even though I was dancing all the time and in very good shape.

Finally my mother took me to a family planning clinic to get a pregnancy test. The clinic worker said I was definitely pregnant but much further along than what I thought must be only a couple weeks. She said they needed to run some more tests, and when the results came back I was devastated to hear that my body had betrayed me and I was actually almost 6 months pregnant.

My mother wanted a grandchild, but she did not know that my father was being sexually abusive to me as well, and I was too damaged and afraid of him to tell her. I honestly didn’t know if the child might not be his, which makes me sick to write, but was in fact the case. I made up my mind that I would rather risk death than bring a child into my sick life with my sick family, because I knew my father would abuse my baby as well, and my mother would ignore all the signs, just as she had with me. It wasn’t going to happen if I could help it.

After a week of privately researching which poison I could take that might induce abortion (bleach, acid, etc.) but hopefully not kill me, my mother finally found a clinic run by a doctor who had seen many innocent women bleed to death in the emergency room from illegal abortions, and was determined not to see it happen again. He agreed to take me in and he held my hand and said he knew what I was going through and said that he would make it as painless as possible, but that it was a very serious decision and only mine to make.

I assured him that I would rather die than have a child around my sick father, so he gave me a local anaesthetic and had me stare at beautiful pictures of islands and oceans that he had taped to the ceiling, while he performed a D&C. I know that it hurt a lot, but all I remember to this day is a very brave and caring doctor who was determined not to see another death from illegal abortion – a stranger who risked his practice to save my life. The procedure was safe and I had no complications afterwards – he really knew what he was doing, and I know he really cared.

I have never regretted my decision, and I wish I could have met him later and thanked him when I had a more mature understanding of his courage, but I found out too late his clinic was closed down by pro-lifers and I would never see him again. But I feel I owe him because I was able to get my life together, get away from my father, and create a new life for myself outside the confines of my abusive childhood. He is one of my greatest heroes.