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Anonymous, 19

I grew up in a conservative Hispanic family, and I was terrified of seeking birth control when I became sexually active; most importantly, I was terrified of getting caught using birth control by my parents. I was aware of the risks that I was taking by not using it. Regardless, losing my parents' trust, love, and respect seemed even riskier.

After two years of having sex without using birth control, it finally happened: my period did not come. I was terrified. It was my first year of college and I had huge plans and goals ahead of me: I wanted to see the world, to absorb every ounce of knowledge that I could, to run, to jump, to grow up.

I could barely take care of myself, so I could not fathom the idea of having someone else's life depend on me. At least, not yet. Therefore, I decided to have an abortion. It was not an easy choice.

After knowing what I needed to do, I stayed on the phone for hours on end on a national abortion hotline to get financial assistance. I called all the clinics around my college to ensure that I got the best service. The day finally came, and my boyfriend took me to the clinic: the walk from the car to the inside of the clinic was horrifying; hearing people who shared my religion cry "Murderer", and "You have life inside of you" did not make me change my mind, but it made me want to educate them. I dare them to have been in my shoes.

Having an abortion is not an easy decision, just like keeping a baby is not one, either. Every woman, however, should be free to decide which choice to make, without harassment from ignorant strangers. After all, it is our own body and our own life. My freedom ends where my neighbors’ begins.

Now, I want to help women who face the decision that I had to make: I want to tell them not to be scared, not to feel guilty, not to be sad. No one can ever make a woman feel less without her consent.

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