I’m not in the least bit sorry that at 17 I had an abortion, I do not regret it, it was the best decision I ever made. To be perfectly honest I haven’t always made the right decisions so that’s not a high bar. Still, I know that I did what was best for me.

To make abortion more palatable to the general public we are supposed to say it was a a hard decision and we have regrets. I actually feel writing this that I am betraying the pro-choice movement by telling my story but the only regret I have is that I got pregnant in the first place. I also regret that I let an older boy talk me into it. I regret that I wanted a boyfriend so bad that I let him take my virginity. I was too young, I wasn’t ready, I made no demands that he please me. Instead I let him forget about me entirely while he drilled away at me to achieve his own pleasure. I regret that I believe him when he saw he was allergic to “rubbers”-the term for condoms in the 80s. I believed him when he said he’d pull out. And I believed I was invincible. All teenagers believe nothing bad will happen to “them”. They drive fast and drunk, and take drugs and they survive. Most of them anyway.

Before I missed my period I was getting morning sickness so when my period was late I already knew I was pregnant. The guy bailed on me saying that everyone knew if you took a girl’s virginity she slept around. Planned Parenthood did free pregnancy tests but we had to collect our first morning urine. I filled a mason jar not knowing how much they needed. I had no specimen cups anyway. I dropped it off that morning and returned for my results later that day. I spoke to a counselor who confirmed it. She asked me why I had sex and when I told her that as far as I knew it that I didn’t know she said I should not be doing it at all. But it was too late. I was already in trouble. She told me my options but before she even spoke of it I knew I was pregnant and wanted desperately to be un-pregnant,. I didn’t want to carry a baby to term. I couldn’t even take care of myself, let alone a baby. I was acutely depressed at the time but didn’t understand that at all. There were no commercials describing how I felt and offering me a way out. But I did have a choice now: I could get an abortion.

The problem was I didn’t have the $350 that it cost at the time. I was working, cleaning up construction sites for a friend of my father’s, but I barely ever had more than $25 in my pocket at any time. My best friend gave me $150 of her own money but that still was not enough. So I asked my boss to give me an advance. He wanted to know why but I didn’t explain it, only that I needed it. But he pressured me to tell him so I did not knowing what else to say. So he put $200 on the table and then came up to me and leaned his erection on me. He said if I ever wanted to know more about sex to come to him. I am still upset about it even typing it now, 35 years later. Scumbag. If I had told my father he would have gone to his house with a shotgun and threatened him but I didn’t tell dad. I couldn’t without revealing why it happened. Looking back on it, I realize my father would have supported my decision, felt relieved and given me the money. But I was afraid so I never told him.

On the day of my appointment I was supposed to cut the lawn but it was a morning appointment so my best friend drove me to the clinic instead. There were a few people outside shouting and trying to block my way but Anita, my bossy friend, pushed them out of the way. I do not envy women today.

There was a mix of races and ages of women in the waiting room already pretending to look at magazines but really were worried about the procedure. A woman came in to counsel us. We would be taken one by one to a room for the abortion and given instructions and Tylenol because we were warned we would be cramping and bleeding afterwards. The Tylenol was a placebo really, it did nothing for me.

I was eventually called and taken in. I did as instructed: I took off my clothes, underwear and put on a gown. I got up on the exam table and a doctor and the counselor came in. I put my feet in the stirrups. I skootched down as told. The counselor held my hand. I looked up and there was a Degas poster of ballerinas on the ceiling. When the doctor touched me I bucked. He put his hand on my pelvis and slammed it to the table: do you want this or not? he yelled at me. I did my best to relax. I did want it. I wanted it more than anything. He inserted the speculum and the vacuum and it began to work. The machine made loud noises, it started to hurt. Badly. It was minutes really but it felt longer. When it was over the doctor removed the tools and inserted a tampon. I didn’t use tampons regularly and it felt it invasive and a punishment.

I was shocked that I was told to walk to the recovery room. I was in so much pain but I did it and laid down on the table. I got up to run to the bathroom and threw up. The cramping was intense. I returned to the recovery room and tried to relax but the pain was not going away any time soon so I got up and left. My best friend, waiting for me, took me home.

I pulled out the tampon and replaced with a pad and went to my room to lie on my bed with a heating pad. Dad came into my room and reminded me that I had promised to cut the lawn. Again I couldn’t tell him so I got up to do my chore. So there I was, in extreme pain, mowing the lawn. I tried to feel bad that I had an abortion but I couldn’t feel it. I was no longer pregnant. I was un-pregnant. I was relieved. And then the lawn was finished. And I never looked back.

35+ years in the service industry. Old, cranky and dissatisfied.