The actress shared her experience with abortion and the pregnancy that came three years later to emphasize the need for abortion rights
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Lesley-Ann Brandt
Lesley-Ann Brandt
| Credit: Presley Ann/Getty

When Lesley-Ann Brandt learned that she was pregnant seven years ago, she knew that neither she nor her then-boyfriend, now husband, were ready for children.

The Lucifer star, 39, was two years into her relationship with husband Chris Payne Gilbert, working a guest star role, and while they "lived together and were committed," she wrote in an essay for SELF, "neither one of us was ready for parenthood."

Brandt wrote that when she called Payne Gilbert to tell him that she was pregnant, she "could hear the panic in his voice," but "quickly allayed his fears" when she told him she had already scheduled an abortion.

"I knew we weren't ready, and I knew I wasn't ready," she said. "… People have abortions for many reasons. In my case, I simply wasn't ready. That's it, and that's good enough. I didn't want to be a mother at that moment in my life, so I made a decision that was best for me and my relationship."

Brandt said that her decision to get an abortion at age 32 "gave me choice, autonomy over my own body and opportunities in my career." But, she points out, "millions of women do not have those luxuries, with many being forced into a situation they don't want and are not ready for."

The actress, who is now the mom of Kingston, 4, with Payne Gilbert, emphasized that the politized fight over abortion rights only hurts people.

"The truth is that banning abortion will not stop abortion, it just makes already vulnerable people's lives more difficult," she said. "It stops safe abortion because, rest assured, wealthy people will still have access to abortion services. It is the poor who suffer."

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In a similar vein, Brandt said, Americans are struggling without paid family leave. She detailed the difficult recovery she had after Kingston's arrival in 2017, starting from the sciatic pain that would cause her leg to collapse underneath her every time the baby shifted at 7 months pregnant to his 48-hour, vomit-filled delivery to their struggles with breastfeeding.

"Actors don't get paid maternity leave. In fact, in our contracts, pregnancy is often treated as a disability," she said. "As the main breadwinner in our household at the time, I had no choice but to return to work a mere six weeks after my son was born … My body had barely healed when I was suddenly back to work, breastfeeding through the nights and showing up on set the next morning, often pretending to be fine."

Brandt's pregnancy left her with health complications four years later, and this August she tore her ACL, which doctors said was likely caused by hip problems during her pregnancy. She's now a few weeks out of surgery and working on rehabilitation.

"I'll push through the way I always do and I will continue to speak up and fight for women to have autonomy over their bodies," she said. "I will support those who decide to carry to term and those who don't. And I will fight to ensure we are treated as more than just 'host bodies' in every aspect of society."