The House of Representatives on Thursday was the scene of dueling narratives on the contentious issue of abortion.
During a House Oversight Committee hearing on abortion rights, a trio of Democratic lawmakers gave emotional testimony about their personal experiences about ending their pregnancies, while one Republican shared her gratitude that her mother decided not to abort her, Axios reported.
Freshman Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri testified she was raped in the summer after she graduated high school by a man while on church trip to Jackson, Miss., which resulted in her getting pregnant.
“Choosing to have an abortion was the hardest decision I had ever made,” Bush said. “But at 18 years old, I knew it was the right decision for me. It was freeing, knowing I had options.”
Rep. Cori Bush: “My abortion happened on a Saturday…Choosing to have an abortion was the hardest decision I had ever made. But at 18 years old, I knew it was the right decision for me…in the summer of 1994 I was raped, I became pregnant and I chose to have an abortion.” pic.twitter.com/cKykuIIZOz
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 30, 2021
She went on to say, “So to all the black women and girls who have had abortions and will have abortions, we have nothing to be ashamed of.”
California Rep. Barbara Lee recounted getting an abortion at a back-alley clinic in Mexico after finding out she was pregnant at 16.
She was living in California at the time — the 1960s — years before abortion became legal via the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
“I didn’t know what to do,” she said, about missing her period. “Now, in those days, mind you, this is in the mid-1960s, 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.”
She noted underground abortions proved fatal for some women.
“A lot of girls and women in my generation didn’t make it,” she said. “They died from unsafe abortions.”
She called the decision to end her pregnancy “the most difficult I’ve made in my life, but it was my choice, and that is what must be preserved for every pregnant person.”
On the other side of the issue, Republican Rep. Kathryn “Kat” Cammack of Florida testified that her mother’s doctor recommended she have an abortion while pregnant with Cammack due to health concerns related to a stroke during a previous pregnancy.
“Every woman’s story is different, and these decisions do not come easy,” she said. “But I am grateful every single day that there were resources available for my mom. Because in that moment, she chose life and those resources were available to her as a single mom.”
Thursday’s hearing took place against the backdrop of a controversial Texas law that effectively bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
The Texas law is currently the subject of several legal challenges.
In December, the Supreme Court is expected to review a case — a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks — that could threaten Roe v. Wade.
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