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Hogan Lovells lawyer says she was fired after defending Dobbs, discussing abortion impact and genocide

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A Hogan Lovells lawyer has said she was fired and blackballed by other law firms after she referred to abortion rates in the Black community during a discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion.

In an opinion column by the Wall Street Journal, Robin Keller said she was a retired equity partner still representing clients at Hogan Hovells when she participated in an online conference call for female employees after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The call “was billed as a ‘safe space’ for women at the firm to discuss the decision,” Keller wrote. “It might have been a safe space for some, but it wasn’t safe for me.”

Everyone else on the call was angered and outraged by the Dobbs decision, Keller said.

“I spoke up to offer a different view,” Keller said. “I noted that many jurists and commentators believed Roe had been wrongly decided. I said that the court was right to remand the issue to the states. I added that I thought abortion-rights advocates had brought much of the pushback against Roe on themselves by pushing for extreme policies. I referred to numerous reports of disproportionately high rates of abortion in the Black community, which some have called a form of genocide. I said I thought this was tragic.”

The pushback was immediate. Keller was labeled a racist and criticized until she hung up, she said. After someone made a formal complaint to Hogan Lovells, Keller said, the firm “suspended my contracts, cut off my contact with clients, removed me from email and document systems, and emailed all U.S. personnel saying that a forum participant had made ‘anti-Black comments’ and was suspended pending an investigation.”

Keller filed a complaint with the firm contending that she had been harassed by being publicly labeled a racist. Hogan Lovells hired an outside firm to investigate. Three weeks later, Keller was told that her comments labeling Black abortion rates genocide violated the firm’s anti-harassment policy. Keller’s contracts with the firm were terminated.

“If this could happen to me,” Keller wrote, “anyone who expresses a disfavored opinion—even on a matter of law—can expect the same treatment: immediate cancellation without concern for client interests, due process or fairness.”

Justice Clarence Thomas has previously argued that abortion has been used “to achieve eugenic goals,” and the number of abortions per 1,000 live births among Black women is nearly 3.5 times the ratio for white women.

Above the Law condemned Keller’s comments on abortion and genocide.

“Keller would rather gin up the disingenuous rallying cry of twisted First Amendment talking points than take any personal responsibility for what she said,” the blog wrote.

The blog cited an article in the National Black Law Journal titled, “The Myth of Abortion as Black Genocide: Reclaiming Our Reproductive Cycle.”

Author Shyrissa Dobbins-Harris wrote in the article that the genocide argument has an underlying assumption that Black women lack critical thinking skills needed to avoid falling into the abortion pitfall. The argument places the struggle for Black survival “within the wombs” of Black women, rather than the “numerous social ills facing Black people,” Dobbins-Harris said.

Hogan Lovells gave Above the Law this statement: “As a firm, we fully encourage our people to share their views on important issues that matter to them, but we expect our people to conduct themselves in accordance with firm policies. We value our differences, which make us stronger as a firm.”

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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