THE choice to get an abortion is often surrounded with stigma.
A regional Victorian woman, 21, was consciously aware of that when she learned she was pregnant.
She had a big decision to make. It was not easy, but she now knows she made the right choice to have an abortion and wants to discuss it so others in the same situation do not have to feel so alone.
"It's a big life experience. I'm always going to think about it. It's always going to be there and that's OK, but I am confident in the decision that I made," she said.
"Pro-choice is about knowing what is best for you, and I know this was best for me. Self-care is really important. I am very confident in the decision that I made and it is my right to choose what's best for me - there's no right or wrong."
For her, it came down to putting work and studies ahead of having a child - which was not in her thoughts at this stage of her life.
"I'm not saying it was an easy decision at all, because it definitely wasn't. I had to weight up a lot of things," she said.
"I thought it wouldn't be fair for me to bring a child into the world when I didn't have the time. It wasn't best for me, it wasn't best for the other party either."
In dealing with the unplanned pregnancy, the woman learned it was not just young people choosing to have abortions - but woman of all ages and circumstances.
"It's very common, more common than I thought actually," she said.
"They're also women who are in stable relationships, but they might not be financially able to bring another person into the world.
"They might have kids, but are not ready for their second or third child at the moment.
"They might be saving for things. It could be because they're not in a relationship at all, it really depends."
There have been signs during the past 12 months that attitudes are changing around the world, with NSW voting to impose exclusion areas of protesters at clinics and Ireland voting to legalise abortions. But it still remains a touchy subject for the women involved.
The woman said she needed to keep a clear head when visiting the doctor in the lead-up to terminating her pregnancy, so she decided the only way that could happen was to ensure all of her appointments were away from her community.
She did not feel comfortable with the perceptions of people who may have found out and the small talk would have been too much.
She said her community - like most in regional areas - is the type of place where you always run into someone in the supermarket, so she did not want that to happen in the waiting room.
"I feel if I was here at home, I'd be pressured, I would have other people trying to talk me out of it or put their opinions onto me," she said.
"In Melbourne I could relax. I wouldn't be as nervous and worrying.
"I did everything externally - doctors, blood tests ... everything was in Melbourne. The facility was really good, I'm quite grateful from the support I had from them."
She said trips to Melbourne were the better choice for her mental health.
"Some days I will have off days and that is OK, I'm allowed to have that and get a bit upset, but in the end I always know it was best for me," she said.
Luckily the woman was able to make the trip to Melbourne, but said she hopes regional communities could provide somewhere more private for women in the future. She was also fortunate to have the support of family, friends and colleagues when weighing up her options.
"That really helped. I think being open and knowing how common it is was a big thing," she said.
"I've had a lot of support from those I've told in the community ... They were really understanding."
But she also had people advise her to not go ahead with the abortion, which did play on her mind.
The issue of abortions and the pro-choice movement was discussed when she was in high school.
"I remember thinking: 'If that was ever me, yes I would be able to do that, it would be easy'.
"But when the other party and I were actually having this conversation, it was more complex than I thought," she said.
"It wasn't just an easy 'yes' or 'no', I'm not going to lie."
She also sought professional counselling, saying that was very beneficial.
"It made me think about where I wanted to be," she said. "I think it was easier because I was open about my feelings. Having that support is really, really important."
The woman works in leadership roles in her community - including local government and youth work.
She said she has witnessed the negatives of what can happen when people in busy professions have children when they are not ready.
"I probably could have managed it, that's the type of person I am. But if I really think, I don't think I'd be giving them a fair go at life at all," she said.
"I work with kids who are in care, I've seen that flip side of how neglect can start quite young."
Her hope is that the "toxic" stigma around pregnancy and abortion will eventually be removed.
She said she wanted to use her experiences to create something positive, saying to women everywhere that it is OK to make whatever decision is right for them.
"Everyone's experience is different and I just want to send a positive message," she said. "I thought I would advocate and say, 'I have been through this and it is OK to have things happen in your life and learn from it'.
"If we didn't have these things happen in life then we wouldn't grow and have knowledge."