Sharing abortion stories is an opportunity to not only inform people of what happened in the past, but to warn about what women might be facing in the future if abortion is no longer a Constititional right, or at the least, legal in some states. I got pregnant in December 1970. I was an 18 year old college freshman, a virgin, with very little sexual experience. I don’t blame the young man who impregnated me as we were equally to blame for what happened. I regret the ignorance that led me to believe I couldn’t get pregnant if he didn’t ejeculate inside of me. I knew I was pregnant within a very few weeks. I tried to find a doctor who would help me find abortion services. I must have gone to a half-dozen doctors between Ludington and Muskegon before I gave up. These doctors all responded differently to me–some kindly, others gruffly, and one became so outraged that he chased me from his office. Quite honestly, I was despairing. People didn’t even talk about abortion where I lived, so I was totally at a loss and starting to lose what little emotional control I had over the situation. I don’t know what I would have done if my oldest sister, Mary Ann, hadn’t come home one weekend in early February. She saw me undressing and immediately recognized that I was pregnant. She bluntly asked what I wanted to do about it. I told her the truth: I was pregnant by somebody that refused to take any of the responsibility, including financial, and that I wanted an abortion. Thankfully, she told me she would help me figure it out. My sister came back about a week later with an appointment with Adrienne (the Adrienne from our group). That began my journey to New York City for an abortion when I was just about 10 or 11 weeks pregnant. The first stop was to Grand Valley where I met Adrienne. She talked with me about my situation and then set up an appointment with a minister who was part of a clergy consultation service for women seeking abortions. Years later, I found out that this group was part of an international network of of mostly Lutheran and Methodist clergy that helped women obtain safe abortions from licensed medical professionals. The pastor met with me for about an hour, discussing my options, and then drove me to a warehouse in Grand Rapids that was outfitted with temporary exam rooms. A doctor examined me and then certified that I was pregnant. The experience was difficult. I remember forcing myself not to cry, to say what I thought I needed to say to convince these people that I would get an abortion whether they helped me or not. One jarring note was when the nurse, apparently believing that the cotton sheet that was hung up to give women privacy while being examined was sound-proofed, told the doctor that I was the most unfeeling girl she had ever seen and not fit to be a parent. I wasn’t unfeeling at all. I felt that I had to cover up my emotions or somebody, any one of these strangers that now controlled my future, would refuse to help me A few days later, with directions to an abortion clinic on 73rd and Lexington and a form letter in hand from the doctor who confirmed my pregnancy, I was on a plane for the first time in my life headed to New York City on March 1, 1971. Adrienne had made all the travel arrangements for me. She also gave me instructions prior to leaving: 1. Wear a dress. 2. No food or drink prior to the procedure. 3. Do not tell anyone, especially the taxi driver where you are going or why. All you can say is 73rd and Lexington. Following her instructions, I was wearing a sweater dress from high school that I hadn’t put on in almost a year. I remember hiding my face behind my long hair— weeping with anxiety while I was on the plane. I believe I cried halfway there until my seatmate, a well-dressed woman with an upper-class American accent, kindly asked me if I was going back to school. Nodding affirmatively, I pulled myself together and somehow got off the plane once it landed, found the taxi kiosk, and told the driver where I was going. He turned to look at me, and I knew he knew exactly why I was going to that address; but instead of berating me– which I had been warned could happen–he asked me if I had time to take the long way into the city. I told him that I did, as my appointment was about 6 hours in the future, so he took me on the scenic tour. I remember him pointing out the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty in the distance. We drove through Times Square, and past Central Park. I think we drove within a short distance of the UN. At some point, he turned off the meter because the cost including tip ended up being exactly what I was told it would be. Once I got there I still had a few hours to kill. I took a walk around the block, which was quite a distance but I figured as long as I didn’t waver from that route, I would find my way back. I remember being whistled at by a couple of men working at a construction site, laughed at by a couple of girls in a dress shop who must have thought my wool dress was ridiculous in the 80 degree heat. Once again feeling overwhelmed, I noticed a church on 74th street. I googled it that other day. I jiggled the door, and finding it open, went inside and set in the quiet of the nave. Through tears, I prayed for strength and forgiveness and then, worried that this church might be Catholic and that a priest might arrive and try to stop me from completing my goal, I hurried out. Next, I stopped at a corner coffee shop and drank a half cup of coffee before I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to drink anything. Deciding I better check in before something else happened, I entered the building on 73rd & Lexington. It was noisy. Filled with people and absolutely no signage to direct me to the clinic. Finally, I approached a woman sitting at a desk who told me where she thought the clinic was. Fortunately, she was right. The actual experience was so much easier than getting there. The doctor was an older man, who was calm and kind. The procedure was a vacuum aspiration abortion which took about five to ten minutes to perform. I remember holding tightly to the hand of the nurse, who was speaking calmly and quietly to me. After it was over, a huge feeling of relief washed over me. After that moment, I never had second thoughts about my decision. Following the abortion, I recovered in a room with approximately eight other women in it, only two that had a husband or boyfriend with them. I became friendly with a four other women about my age, who all were going back to the same airport with flights about the same time. We decided to share a cab and a meal at the airport. My plane was the first to leave. My sister picked me up at the airport that evening and I was home before midnight. I remember running a slight fever and having an ache in my uterus, but that was about it. Later that spring, I met Bob, the man that I was to marry five years later. I am confident that I never would have met him had I not had the abortion. We have been married for over 46 years and have two children and four grandchildren. My entire life would have changed and the lives of the people I most love would have changed, or never even happened, had I not made that decision. My mother, who I told a few years afterward about what had happened, asked me why I didn’t go to her and dad for help. I replied that until I became an adult, I didn’t realize that she would have also helped me. I was never as alone as I thought I was during that experience. Devoting this time toward the Reproductive Freedom Initiative and developing Northwest Michigan for Reproductive Freedom, which is registered 501(c)4, is very important to me. I want to be a voice of reason and of hope in the fight to retain reproductive freedom.