Cori Bush and Other Congresswomen Shared Their Abortion Stories in an Official Testimony


“I was one of those that survived and I think it’s my duty now, as hard as this is, to talk about it. Because I know it’s going to happen again if we don’t stop what’s taking place,” said Lee, referencing the number of people who die from unsafe abortions around the world. 

At Thursday’s hearin, she shared more of her story. “This was in the mid-1960s, when women and girls were told if you didn’t have a period, [you] should take quinine pills, sit in a tub of water, or use a coat hanger if nothing else worked,” said Lee. “I was one of the lucky ones…. A lot of girls and women in my generation didn’t make it. They died from unsafe abortions. In the 1960s unsafe septic abortions were the primary killer, primary killer of African American women. Personal experience shaped my beliefs to fight for people’s reproductive freedom.”

Jayapal told NBC News that testifying was important to her because it “makes it official…. It puts it in the record.” Jayapal, who chose to have an abortion after already being a mother, shared that her decision was influenced by her existing and possible health complications and her experience with postpartum depression after her first pregnancy.

“I did not suffer from living in a state that does not allow pregnant people to make these choices,” Jayapal said during Thursday’s hearing, “and unlike one of my colleagues who was testifying today, I had the privilege of experiencing the world in a post–Roe v. Wade time where abortion was established as a constitutional right. Because of the cruel Texas abortion ban and the other state abortion bans currently being litigated by those unaffected by the outcome, many people may not have the same choice as I did. That is unacceptable.”

Bush detailed her experience with abortion further in an interview with Vanity Fair, published on Wednesday. While on an annual church trip at age 17, Bush says she was raped by an older man in a leadership position. “Now I know that was a sexual assault,” Bush said in the interview. “It’s even hard for me to say a little bit because I’m still really trying to process all of it.” Soon after, Bush learned that she was pregnant and ultimately chose to have an abortion at nine weeks.

During the hearing Bush detailed the racism she experienced at the local clinic she visited and the shame and fear she felt leading up to the procedure. But afterward, even while experiencing side effects, Bush said the strongest feeling she felt was resolve. 

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