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When I missed my period, my boyfriend took the urine sample to the lab, and
the results confirmed what I already knew.

I'd gotten pregnant the firsttime I had sex.

The baby became our dark secret that we shared with no one.
My boyfriend immediately started pressuring me. "If you want me to think
about marrying you someday, you have to have an abortion."

Then, to coerce me into doing what he wanted, he explained that his last
girlfriend had agreed to have an abortion, but when he took her to the
clinic, she changed her mind. After that, he left her.

I thought I was in love, and believed that my boyfriend loved me, too,
though he never once asked me what I wanted to do.

I desperately needed to talk to someone else, but I was afraid of shaming my
family and disappointing my teachers. A straight-A student, ranked second in
my junior class of more than 130, I didn't want anyone to know I wasn't the
person they thought I was.

I was pregnant, and I could not turn back the clock. Not fully understanding
that ending my pregnancy would mean ending my child's life, I allowed my
boyfriend to set up an appointment at a local clinic [sic].

About a week before that horrible day, I celebrated my 17th birthday with my
family. When my mother brought out the lighted cake and asked me to make a
wish, I burst into hysterical sobs.

If only I would have had the courage to confide in my parents. My father
would have supported my desire to carry my pregnancy to term, whether I
decided to keep my child or give him or her up for adoption. But like so
many in my position, I was afraid to talk to the very people who loved me
the most.

The day my boyfriend drove me to the clinic was the worst day of my life,
and for me, there's never been a day since filled with more anguish or
regret. The clinic offered group counseling. I feared this was designed to
weed out those who didn't really want an abortion, so I told them what I
thought they wanted to hear. "I'm not ready to have a baby. I want to go to

But none of the so-called reasons I'd offered mattered when I was lying on
the operating table. My knees were shaking violently, and I couldn't stop
the tears from running down my face. The doctor and nurse said that if I
didn't get a hold of myself, they wouldn't do the abortion. Terrified that
my boyfriend would leave me as he'd left the other girl, I submitted to the

After the baby was gone, my emotional state vacillated from mild to severe

I fantasized about killing myself.

I drank heavily in high school and in my first year of college.

Then I got into drugs – anything to help me forget that I had taken my own child's life. For years, I hated myself. I walked out into traffic, hoping to get hit by a car.

This September, the child I aborted would have been 26 years old, and I
still wonder what he or she would have been like.

Although my faith has helped me find forgiveness, I know I will go to my grave grieving for that child whose life I chose to end.

LAURA NEARY, a teacher and freelance writer, lives in Akron.
6/28/2002 Buffalo News