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As originally published in the LA Times on May 2, 2022.

By Andrea Schmidt, Public Affairs Project Manager, Planned Parenthood of Orange & San Bernardino Counties

Everyone knows and loves someone who has had an abortion. With the Supreme Court’s likely decision this summer to dismantle the right to abortion, it’s time we start telling our stories.

When I was in my final year at UC Irvine, I was juggling an internship, a part-time job, my club involvements and my studies. I was moving at lightning speed with everything I did. And less than one month into my senior year, I found myself pregnant.

I was overwhelmed by the news, so as soon as I could, I visited the local Costa Mesa Planned Parenthood Health Center. They saw me right away, comforted me in my panic and provided the most compassionate care I have ever received. They counseled me about all of my options, but I knew right away what I wanted to do. Considering everything I had worked so hard for and all of the aspirations that I had, I told them without a second thought that I wanted to move forward and have an abortion. They answered my questions with patience and compassion. They walked me through step by step what the process would look like.

I was lucky because in California, there are no extreme restrictions. I wasn’t forced to wait 48 hours or travel far away to access this necessary medical procedure, unlike the 36 million people who live in a state that has put cruel and extreme restrictions on abortion. Studies show that being denied an abortion and being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term results in worse financial, health and family outcomes including generational economic hardships. If the Supreme Court chooses to dismantle Roe v. Wade and take away the right to an abortion, it will put these patients like me in an even worse position and take away their right to choose their own destiny.

I am so grateful that I live in a state where I have the freedom to make my own medical decisions and can get the care I need in an accessible and affordable way without judgment, questions or hurdles. As someone who has only ever lived in a time when the right to safe, legal abortion existed, the thought of the Supreme Court or state legislature telling me what I can and can’t do with my body and my life is terrifying.

My story is not unique, and my abortion made the life I have now possible. The rights I have enjoyed as a California resident are no accident either. They are only protected because so many people have raised their voices to show support for abortion rights and worked to elect pro-choice leaders. We need to rally now and show our support for people nationwide who could have their rights taken away.