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For Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast patient and advocate Julie-Anna, having an abortion meant having the freedom to choose her own destiny. In light of the recent Supreme Court victory for abortion access in Louisiana, Julie Anna – a New Orleans resident – is sharing her story.

I’m Julie-Anna and I live in New Orleans, Louisiana. I grew up in Mississippi, and when I was 18, I decided to move to New York City for school. Six months after moving, I found out I was pregnant. It was surreal, looking at my positive test. I had left home with hopes of building a life for myself, and now I was facing the possibility of motherhood. I couldn’t imagine it.

I could barely cover my half of the rent, much less take care of another person. I had been raised in an anti-choice household, but my desire to live my own life absolutely outweighed everything else. If I chose to keep this pregnancy, I would risk my chance to make my life what I wanted. I probably would’ve moved back to Mississippi, and I wasn’t going to let that happen. 

I was too young to be a parent, and I knew it. I went online and found a health center in Queens. I needed $327 for an abortion, and I didn’t know anything about abortion funds for financial help. I was waiting tables in a restaurant in the city, so I worked extra shifts to save the money. I had horrible nausea that lasted all day, but I pushed through it – knowing there was a clock ticking. When I had the money, I called the heath center and scheduled an abortion.

After the procedure, even in a slight haze from the anesthesia, I felt the best I had in weeks, knowing I was free. And then I took the subway home.

Years later, I had the chance to rethink my decision to have an abortion with the clarity of hindsight. I had a health issue, adenomyosis, that almost killed me and led to a hysterectomy. I had to accept that I will never have children. I wanted to, but I still don’t regret the abortion. It was the right decision for me. I’m happier knowing that, if I decide to adopt, I will be better prepared to be a good mom.

When I talk about my abortion, I’m talking about my life. And my life is possible because I was able to get a procedure.

In Louisiana, you can go to one of three health centers – and they can stay open thanks to this Supreme Court decision. But there are only three health centers that provide abortion, and it’s a long drive for a lot of people. You have to get an ultrasound. And then there’s a waiting period. And then you can get an abortion. And we have an anti-choice governor.

Of course, this Supreme Court decision is a victory, but a tenuous one. It’s a victory that restores our already pretty terrible access to a medical procedure that belongs to the individual, no matter what the court says.

Bringing another life into the world brings a mountain of issues – financial, mental, and otherwise. It’s not for anyone else to make that decision.