WASHINGTON — Wiping away tears, Rep. Cori Bush on Thursday told a House committee the story of her rape at age 17 to demonstrate the need for abortion rights and less restrictive access to abortion.
“When he was done, he got up, he pulled up his pants, and without a word he left,” Bush said. “I was confused. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I asked myself, ‘Was this something that I had done?’”
The Missouri Democrat said she felt broken and alone when she later found out she was nine weeks pregnant. She said the decision to get an abortion was hard, but she knew it was the right decision for her at the time.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing focused on a Texas law that went into effect on Sept. 1 and bans abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, a challenge to the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade that makes abortion within the first six months of pregnancy a constitutional right.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said abortion bans “are not just a political issue, they do real harm to people across the country and in our most vulnerable communities.”
Jayapal said she, too, had an abortion. In her case, she said, doctors told her the pregnancy would likely be of high risk to her and the child.
“For me, terminating my pregnancy was not an easy choice — the most difficult I’ve made in my life, but it was my choice. That is what must be preserved for every pregnant person,” Jayapal said.
Last week, the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect a health care provider’s right to perform abortions. Many states have enacted laws that have resulted in numerous restrictions on providers and women trying to get abortions.
At Thursday’s hearing, Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., called on the Senate to “meet the moment and immediately pass this critical bill.”
But House Republicans on the committee supported restrictions on abortions. Several Republicans emphasized that the committee has no jurisdiction over the Texas law and should instead focus on more pressing issues such as COVID-19 and Afghanistan.
Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said she feels sorrow for any woman who has to “destroy her unborn child.”
“We live in a society that mistakes choice for liberty and denies the dignity of unborn life,” Foxx said. “Those who are attempting to normalize the destruction of the innocent unborn do so through language that denies what they are doing.”
Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., said her mother suffered a stroke when she was pregnant with Cammack’s older sister. When her mother became pregnant a few years later with her, doctors advised against having the child because of risks to the mother and the child.
“You can imagine the pain that she felt when her own family told her that she needed to abort her child. But because of her strength, she chose life,” Cammack said. “My mom survived, I survived, and I am a living, breathing witness of the power of life and the incredible choice that my own mother made.”