Having an abortion because you simply do not want to be pregnant is a valid choice and sometimes the only viable choice for your mental health.

I had an abortion when I was 17. I was “careful,” but not careful enough. It’s so easy for things to go wrong at the most inconvenient time. I hate that when I look back at pictures from the day I graduated high school all I can think about is how I was pregnant at the time and had no idea. I hate that my boyfriend’s parents had to pay for it or even know about it. I hate that my mom felt bad for only having $30 to contribute. I hate that I contracted pelvic inflammatory disease from the abortion and didn’t realize it until nearly a year later. I hate that I didn’t take better care of myself emotionally and physically back then. But. I do not hate that I had an abortion. Having an abortion was one of the best decisions I have ever made. If I were to get pregnant today I would most likely make that same exact decision.

I had a surgical abortion because I was nine weeks and three days along. Ever since the second I found out I was pregnant all I could think about was wanting to be free and for it to be over. Still I thought about my options carefully. After much thought I was certain that emotionally I really only had one option. I didn’t just not want a child. I did not want to be pregnant. I want a child one day, but I want to adopt and I want to be ready. I want to be financially, emotionally, and physically ready. The thought of carrying a pregnancy to term made me want to rip my skin off. It still does. I’ve struggled with mental illness my entire life and I know myself well enough to know that I could not emotionally handle a pregnancy and I have zero desire to try. I am glad I didn’t try to carry a pregnancy a term at the age of 17. Back then I was deeply emotionally unstable. I was self-harming regularly and frequently contemplating suicide. I felt certain that if I couldn’t have an abortion I would kill myself.

The procedure itself took about five minutes and was painless. Before the procedure I had asked if there would be pain and they had said it varied person by person. I was told if you’re used to very intense painful periods then it will feel like nothing, but if you’ve always had light periods with few cramps then an abortion will feel like hell. I guess that’s the only time I’ve ever felt lucky to have incredibly painful periods. Despite the procedure being quick we were still required to be at the clinic for several hours so that they could do counseling, an ultrasound, explain the procedure about fifty different times with explicit detail, and so much more. It was emotionally draining. I’m fairly certain there is no other medical procedure where you have to be lectured for five hours before you’re allowed to proceed. It’s an obnoxious process, but it verifies that you’re certain about your decision, you’ve thought it through, and no one is pressuring you into it.

It is four and a half years later and I do not regret my decision. I am grateful that I was privileged enough to have had geographic, financial, and legal access to an abortion. I am grateful that thanks to my abortion I was able to graduate college. I do not think about my abortion every day. I think of it as frequently as I think of my root canal. My life is so much bigger than one medical procedure. I am grateful that having an abortion allowed me to have my life back and become the person I am today.

Max, East Tennessee