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My life was laid out on a straight road: finish school, study for the bar exam, start my prestigious clerkship, plan a wedding, get married, get a great job as a lawyer, and, of course, save the world. And then I got pregnant...

January 27, 2017

"Ten years ago, I was a third-year law student. I was engaged to be married. My life was laid out on a straight road: finish school, study for the bar exam, start my prestigious clerkship, plan a wedding, get married, get a great job as a lawyer, and, of course, save the world. And then I got pregnant.

 

I counted forty weeks on my calendar and realized my due date would be during the bar exam. And I knew it wasn't the right time for this baby.

 

My children, I told myself, would not be born to a woman without a career. My mother, her mother, her mother's mother—they were all housewives. And when their husbands left, whether in divorce or in death, they were left with nothing but unpaid bills and hungry mouths to feed. That was not going to be me.

 

I was going to have a career first and children when I could give them the childhood I didn't have—one that would be secure and safe; a childhood with a mother who wasn't working two jobs to keep food on the table, but who had one really, really good job, where she would be able to take vacations and provide more than just the bare necessities for her children.

 

The decision was simple and I felt no guilt. I knew I was doing the right thing for me and for my life. My fiancé supported my choice.

 

Accessing the procedure, on the other hand, was a nightmare.

 

Keep in mind, I wasn't a scared kid. I did not believe I was disenfranchised or lacking in access. I was a twenty-six-year-old-woman, well-educated and competent. A perfectionist in the way all law students tend to be. When I wanted to accomplish something, I did it well, thoroughly, and perfectly the first time.

 

Getting an abortion—which, in my case, was two pills taken at home and a heavy period—proved to me that I was disenfranchised. I was lacking in access. There were regulatory roadblocks—pointless, absurd roadblocks for a woman who knew exactly what she wanted and why—keeping me from making the decision that was right for me.

 

Just finding a clinic was hard. I called my student health center and they pretended like they didn't understand what I meant when I said "I don't want to be pregnant any more."

 

Finally a woman literally whispered the phone number of a place where I could make an appointment—Preterm in Cleveland, Ohio. When I showed up for my appointment I had to have an ultrasound and go to counseling.

 

It was bizarre. There was no medical reason for an ultrasound. There was no psychological reason for counseling. I had no qualms, no second thoughts, no guilt. This was simply what I needed to do to move on with my life.

 

Then there was a 48-hour waiting period. During that 48 hours, I suppose Ohio legislators thought I might think about what I was asking for and decide against it. Instead, I tried my first case as a student lawyer.

 

Yeah, there was no way I was going to have a baby instead of becoming a lawyer.

 

It was the most patronizing experience of my life, trying to get an abortion. I have never felt so demeaned or belittled—and not even by protesters—thankfully, there were not many of them, and the ones that were there did not bother me—but by the system of rules and regulations that had been placed on my ability to make a decision about what was best for me.

 

When I see the abortion debate play out on the national stage, I often think of the hypocrisy of the lawmakers who would outlaw abortion, but then provide no support or services for mothers and children. I've realized that it's not about morality for them. It's not about choosing "life." It's about power and control, and taking women's power away so they can be easily controlled.

 

Well, not me. You don't get to control me. You don't get my power.

 

In the decade since my abortion, I have exonerated innocent people, falsely accused of crimes they did not commit. I have defended the Constitution of this country with rigor and passion. I have fought for and preserved the rights of the least powerful in our society and I'm proud of that work every day. In my way, I have been saving the world.

 

Now, at 35, I feel ready to be a mother. On my terms."  —Kelly Gerner

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