One in every four women will have an abortion.
This is her story.
It was the summer of 2002.
I'd just completed my second year of graduate school. I was working three part-time jobs, while going to school and taking some graduate classes via "distance learning."
For a number of reasons, I was depressed. I'd tried an anti-depressant, but it just gave me dry mouth and, if I ran late taking it, I fell into a deep sorrow.
My parents had moved to Arizona so my mother invited me out for the summer - it was the escape that I needed. I'd worked near school as a waitress at Cracker Barrel, so I transferred to the Cracker Barrel nearest to my parents.
That was where I met David.
I'd made friends with a girl named Rebecca at work, sometimes hanging out together. Rebecca learned that I liked older men. Her husband had a divorced friend who was looking to date.
We met for dinner with Rebecca and her husband. Afterward, we sat on the back of his truck, talking. I told him I'd be going out of town to visit another college with my parents, so I wouldn't see him for a week. He gave me a tender goodnight kiss, and walked me to my car.
I'd decided, before I met David, to go to school in Arizona rather than return to Tennessee. I'd planned to stay with my parents, work full-time and save, then go to NAU.
When I returned, David was waiting for me. As soon as I got off work, we sat on the back of his truck and talked. Quickly, we were dating.
In hindsight, there were so many red flags.
But all I saw was a simple man with a past he was trying to overcome (severe alcoholic) who led a modest lifestyle. His first marriage had crumbled and he was honest about his past mistakes.
We spent much time together. I met and adored his sons. His thirteen-year-old had hydrocephalus and wasn't expected to make it to age thirty. His five-year-old had emotional issues from the divorce. He had full custody of his sons.
We became sexually intimate.
Things began to turn during a weekend camping trip with his youngest son. David couldn't catch his breath. He'd had a rough week at work, an argument with his ex-wife, and money issues. I paid for the camping trip to ease the financial burden.
He had a panic attack.
We'd met a woman and her children who insisted he see a paramedic. I watched the children while she took him. They were gone a few hours, but returned with a clean bill of health.
When we returned, something seemed different - with him, with me. He withdraw. He called less, canceled plans, and didn't come into work to visit me. I suspected the woman from the camping trip.
I called her to see if she'd spoken to him. She told me that they'd spoken every day - he was going through a lot. My fear grew. He called, furious that I'd been "prying." I cried, we made up but the damage was done.
Working an early shift one morning, I assumed that I wasn't feeling well due to stress. I ignored the nausea and dizziness, scolding myself for letting David get to me.
I'd been trying to enter an order, and almost collapsed. I was sent home.
"Could be the flu," I was told. But I knew. Without any idea what pregnancy felt like, I knew. I bought two pregnancy kits.
Both confirmed it: I was pregnant.
How could I be pregnant?
I called David panicked, and said that we needed to talk. He insisted I tell him over the phone. I did. When I told him that I was pregnant, there was a dark silence.
Then, "Well, you can't have that baby. You're too young, and I'm too old."
First it was you can't, it become you shouldn't, and finally a threatening you will not have that baby. Bile rose - I'd seen his capacity for violence. He'd been more than aggressive with his younger son. There were a few times that he tightly grabbed my wrist and yanked me around.
He had a short temper, slamming his hands on the table, barking at his children or me.
He had a temper, but I never thought my life was at risk. Until it hit me: this man is threatening me.
For two weeks, I lived in turmoil. I didn't tell my parents. I rationalized it: I was an adult. It was my choice to have unprotected sex, I had to deal with the ramifications.
What does one do when their life could be in danger?
A woman at work approached me and asked to talk privately.
"Is there something you need to talk about?" she asked. She had a kind face, used warm words. She looked like she'd ridden the gravel roads of life and come out on the other side a fighter.
I began to bawl.
I told her the things he'd been doing. Letting the air let out of my tires. Pulling wires out of the car so it wouldn't work. He was stalking me: his white truck following me home, seeing him at the grocery store, even in my parents neighborhood.
We hadn't spoken in weeks.
She told me she'd had two abortions. The first abortion happened when she was too young and the father was abusive. The second abortion she'd had after learning her baby would be born very ill. Talking to her, I felt like I was doing the right thing in getting an abortion.
I called David, trying one last time to work it out.
I got on my knees, Indian-Style on his floor, sobbing, begging him to let me keep the baby. David sat on his throne, cold and silent. I was too young to see it: he was disgusted with me. I was tainted because I'd had the audacity to get pregnant.
He offered the money I'd spent on the camping trip to pay for the abortion. But no more. He didn't have the money and, he said, I didn't deserve it. He gave me the name of the clinic where his ex-wife had had an abortion after she got pregnant a third time (after their divorce was final).
I picked up some extra shifts. The abortion would cost every penny I'd saved, plus the money David had repaid me. I lied to my parents about why I was leaving at six AM on my day off. I can't believe it they bought that I was getting up to "go to a flea market."
My younger brother had toured Iraq, and was due home the same day. I had to come home after the "flea market" to clean the house for his party.
The clinic was a medical office - it looked like any other doctor's office. I was shocked, seeing dozens and dozens of girls waiting. Most were alone. There were a few pale-faced boyfriends, but it was mostly girls.
I filled out the forms and took a seat.
We could hear a muffled yelp or cry over a steady whirring sound. I struggled - should I have the abortion? Should I keep the baby? Before I could decide, my name was called.
I took another pregnancy test (still pregnant) as the abortion was explained in graphic detail. No one asked if I was sure I wanted to have the abortion.
I was administered a local anesthetic but it didn't kick in right away. I told the doctor that it wasn't working. He sharply informed me that the anesthetic would kick in. Eventually.
It did not.
After the abortion was over, I was rolled into a room of cots where two dozen girls were crying, sleeping, or talking.
It was over.
I'd had an abortion.
The relief was replaced by feeling I'd made the wrong choice - it was too late. My child was dead. I was a murderer.
I was told to rest, but I was too upset - all the women, the sobbing, and the smell of burning. I asked my friend to take me home.
The anesthesia kicked in as we got to the car. Finally.
Four hours later, I woke up at my friend's house, three hours after I was due home. My parents were understandably furious. I cleaned the house, hugged my brother, and made excuses to go to bed early.
The next day, I called David and told him I'd had the abortion.
The last words from him were, "Good. Now we can go on with our lives." Two months later, he sold his house and left town.
I didn't have the courage to tell my parents about the abortion. I quit my job and found a job as a secretary. I saw David leaving the Cracker Barrel parking lot one afternoon - presumably to talk to me. I didn't follow him.
Quickly, I jumped into another relationship, which was a travesty. I stuck it out for four years in an attempt to prove my worth. The following years were chaos.
It took eight years to come to terms with my abortion. I'm sad that I felt I had no other choice, that I hadn't turned to my parents, or the police. I'm sad that I didn't consider adoption. I'm sad that I didn't fight for my child.
I can see now that I had a choice and I chose the wrong one. I regret my choice to have an abortion.
I am a mother.
My child - a girl who I'd have named Amelia Frances - would've been born in April of 2003. This year, she'd have been ten, started fifth grade.
It's taken a long time to ask God for forgiveness. It's taken me even longer to forgive. After the abortion, lost my faith and feeling that I could trust myself.
I don't regret sharing my story - not for one minute. If it touches one person, my purpose is complete.
Amelia Frances: Rest in Peace July 2002 - August 2002
I will always remember you,