I was 19 when I got a girl pregnant. She was a few years older than me. We'd been working together in the French Alps for a ski season. No, I didn't wear a condom. Yes, she was on the pill. These things happen.
We dated long distance for a month or so after we returned home. It was fizzling out when she called me and dropped the news.
"So me and my friend have done pregnancy tests, and I'm pregnant," were her exact words.
I panicked. I cried. So did she.
To compound matters, she was all the way over in Wales and I was living with my parents in the English countryside. They were on vacation in France, but my younger sister Chloe was in. She's the first person I told and, despite our blotted history of squabbling at that time, she really pulled through and calmed me.
I called my parents and ruined their holiday. They told me to go be with her. So I left that night and drove six hours to Wales.
The whole family was there when I arrived -- her mom, dad and brother. And they were surprisingly accommodating to the guy who was there to help their daughter terminate a pregnancy. So accommodating, in fact, that for a fleeting moment over dinner I almost forgot why I was there.
But that quickly changed.
Her mom suddenly snapped. "Just what the hell do you think about all this?" she growled at me. The room was silent and I felt mega awkward.
I should have said mistakes happen, and I was going to be by her daughter's side as we figured everything out. But I didn't. I probably just mumbled something apologetic.
I was fucking petrified at the situation. I was ready to sacrifice everything to be there as a dad if that was what she wanted, but at the end of the day, I knew we weren't ready, we weren't in love.
We went to a Planned Parenthood clinic the next day. Interview after interview ensued, and she was taken away by doctors to make sure she wasn't being unfairly pressured by me. It was a horrible experience.
After hours we were told we could join the waiting list to have an abortion on the National Health Service (NHS). I can't remember how long the waiting list was, but it was too long. We couldn't wait. We went private and paid for the procedure the following day.
I was with her right up until we went back to her home so she could rest.
I left early the next morning and haven't seen or spoken to her since. That was mutual.
It's crazy to think I'd be the father of a 6-year-old right now. I'm so glad that's not the case, but not because I don't have a kid. Sure, I was totally unprepared for parenthood and my life would've been completely different -- but I would've done it. I'm happy because we were able to make the decision that was best for both of us, together. I have no doubt to this day that it's what she wanted.
It was her right to have an abortion. The fact that women are still having to jump through too many hoops and justify this is nothing short of wrong. We were on the same page, but the decision should ultimately start and end with her, not with me -- and definitely not with some strangers harboring their own political agenda.
Abortion is still globally stigmatized. But I feel like the UK is miles ahead of America in terms of acceptance. Maybe that's because everything's bigger in America, even the hate. When I tell this story back home, people are surprised but not shocked. It's not so much of a social stigma. People talk about it. Some of those I've told here, however, visibly wince and recoil in horror. I've been told it's not really spoken about.
And the proof is in the paperwork -- 27 states have considered legislation that would limit women's access to abortion since the start of 2016.
Look, I'm not having a pop at you guys. Monday's Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt ruling marked one massive step toward a more accepting United States.
But in a country where abortion is used as a political weapon, I don't think it's unfair of me to say America has a long road ahead.