I had an abortion in New York City in July, 1971. It was my choice and I have never doubted my decision in all the years since.

In 1970, I met Les, the ‘bad boy’, doomed romantic figure most girls dream about and a few actually sleep with. Lord Byron, he wasn’t – he was a biker wanna-be. We had sex wherever and whenever we could. I knew that birth control was vital, but some part of me thought it couldn’t happen to me. As one would expect, the obvious happened: I became pregnant.

I knew that I couldn’t be a mother to anyone’s child – and knew (although I repressed it at the time) that Les would not be a responsible or reliable father. My parents weren’t happy at the news, but kindly and sincerely offered shelter and solace for me and the child. I knew they loved me, but this was not their decision to make. I vaguely pictured what my future life would be like, and knew that abortion was my only option. I weep at the thought of what I would have been forced to become, had I been forced to have a child.

The Cleveland Free Clinic provided information about the New York abortion clinic. The money was borrowed, and our friend Geoff drove us to Manhattan. The clinic was safe and legal, and the people were kind. I had another pregnancy test, and a mini counseling session. I was asked for a confirmation of my wishes to have an abortion, and then the procedure was explained. It was a vacuum aspiration, since I was in the first trimester. I was given a tranquilizer, then got up on the table and the abortion began. It was over quickly, and the very mild pain was no worse than bad cramping.

Aftercare was provided – I was gently asked about my emotional state, was given antibiotics, told that the bleeding should stop in no more than a week. If I noticed any clotting or hemorrhaging, I was to go to the ER immediately. I was also advised to follow up with my local doctor (I was using the Free Clinic, which was then on Cornell Road). AND they stressed that I get some form of reliable BIRTH CONTROL immediately! My only question was: ‘Was I really no longer pregnant?’ The answer was a kindly ‘yes’, and I felt immensely relieved.

I don’t know how long the abortion took, but when I came downstairs, Les and Geoff were waiting for me. I told them that it was all over and everything was fine. Geoff was happy and relieved for me. Les was rather distant.

Back in Cleveland, Les and I went through a number of unpleasant things – I still hadn’t learnt my lesson, I’m afraid. But I did get on the Pill within a week of returning home!

Two years later, Les and I got married – it was always a doomed relationship. He never worked at a legal job, and was frequently unfaithful. When we were splitting up, our last venomous fight ended with his calling me a ‘baby killer’.

I have never doubted or regretted my decision to have an abortion, and believe 100,000% that all women should always have access to a safe and legal abortion – our moral and legal right!