In her early twenties, Emily Cortez felt her life was really starting to take off when she fell in love with an older man, missed some birth control pills, and suddenly found herself gaining weight and fighting back nausea. With multiple tests confirming her pregnancy, Emily knew she was not ready to be a mother. Going against her Catholic faith, she chose to abort her pregnancy. “Walking into the clinic, I was greeted outside by a middle-aged man holding a sign: ‘You’re going to hell!’” Later, a full range of emotions overtook her, including fear of being judged and a wavering between guilt and non-guilt. Ultimately, however, the experience transformed her: “My unplanned pregnancy helped shape the timid woman I was into the strong, vocal woman I am today. To that protestor who held that sign, I want you to know: I am like you—a person—a human with stories, moments and experiences that have shaped me but do not define me.”
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