Jacquelyn Martin / AP
The Missouri Democratic Rep. Tried. Cori Bush to regain his hold on his congressional office.
Moments later, the former nurse and activist had, at a hearing in the House, shared her personal story of her sexual assault and subsequent abortion for the first time.
“I’m really slow reading because I’m having trouble just opening my mouth. It’s just so hard. It’s like something’s forcing me,” Bush told NPR. “It’s really hard because I’m telling this story before the world.”
She hadn’t spoken publicly about what happened to her until this week, when the House Oversight Committee hosted a hearing Thursday about abortion rights in the wake of a new strict law in Texas noticeably limiting access to the procedure.
During his testimony, Bush described how he was raped on a church trip when he was 17 years old. When she realized she may be pregnant, she said she felt “broken.”
“But I know I have options,” she said.
She found a clinic, and found out she was nine weeks pregnant.
At the clinic, he said he heard white patients his age say they were told they should give up their babies for adoption, but Bush said he would tell him he would end up with food stamps and affair if he had her.
“It made my shame worse,” she said.
At one point in his testimony, Bush spoke to Black women and girls. “We have nothing to be ashamed of, we live in a society that has failed to legislate love and justice for us, so we deserve more, we demand better, we deserve better,” she said.
The committee also heard from Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and California Reps. Barbara Lee and Judy Chu, along with Republican lawmakers who oppose abortion rights, and feminist activist Gloria Steinem.
Lee described her decision to have an abortion in 1960, when she was a well-performing 16-year-old student. Her mother helped her find a doctor to perform the procedures out of the country because abortion is not available in California.
“I share my story, even though I really believe it’s personal and really no business and certainly not politicians’ business, ”said Lee, who is now a mother of two sons and has five grandchildren. “But I was compelled to speak out because of the real dangers of the clock going back to those days before Roe v. Wade, until the days I was a teenager and had an abortion back alley in Mexico. ”
It marked one of the many emotional moments on Thursday.
“This is the place where that happened”
Bush told NPR his staff and familiar faces on the committee, such as Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Jimmy Gomez, helped give him the resolution to tell the story.
“It was in this official setting, where it felt like, whatever I say, it had to work,” said Bush, who is already a mother of two. “It has to do something else compared to just our stories, coming out of this narrative. It has to be something, because this is the place where that happened.”
His story and others, Bush said, are part of what he hopes will be a wave of support that could restore momentum to the political right to bring new stringent measures like Texas law to many states across the country.
Although the House was led by the Democrats passed legislation last week to recognize women’s rights under the sign Roe v. Wade case, it has no forward path to an equally separated Senate. Nor has the Supreme Court blocked the law in Texas.
“[My mother] chose life “
Bush said it’s hard to hear how the nature of the North GOP Rep. Abortion. Virginia Foxx, a member of the steering committee.
“It appears that the purpose of this hearing is to normalize the deterioration of unborn babies, called abortion,” Foxx said at the hearing. “Let me say at the beginning that I feel great sorrow for any woman who believes she should destroy her unborn child. And I will certainly hand that over to our colleagues here today.”
Republican Congresswoman Kat Cammack of Florida testified about her own experience as the daughter of a woman advised to have an abortion. Cammack said abortion should only be limited to severe cases.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the very courageous choice my mother made 33 years ago,” he said at the hearing.
At a sharp moment during the hearing, Cammack referred his colleagues who shared their choice to get abortions.
“Despite all, [my mother] chose life. He did something that many of my colleagues here can do, ”Cammack said.
Jacquelyn Martin / AP
As Bush walked to leave the hearing, Cammack hugged him. Bush told NPR that a piece of Cammack’s testimony remained with him.
“Her mother chose the option,” he said. “He had the choice to go with what was recommended to him or do what he wanted to do. That’s what we say: You choose to choose.”
Bush said Cammack thanked him for sharing his story.
“He talked about how he felt for me, going through sexual abuse,” Bush said. “And the thing is what we talked about was how we both felt we wanted to take care of our communities, we both wanted to see change happen.”
“I chose life”
As Bush reflected on his testimony, he recalled the resolution that he needed to continue with his abortion and what it meant for his life going forward.
“I know, in my situation, I chose life, because I knew I couldn’t take care of a child. I knew I couldn’t,” she said. “So should I put a child in the way of harm, when I find out that I am mentally and physically, emotionally unable to take care of a child?”
Progressive Bush said there is a hypocrisy inherent in this debate over the nation’s device for life care, if there are concerns over services to help those in need. He argued that it also includes investments to ensure access to health care, good air quality, environmental and food justice, as well as addressing concerns such as borders, and areas where they are at risk. life.
“You don’t have to be a Democrat, you don’t have to be a Republican. You have to love and respect humanity. And humanity means every single person from the smallest in our community,” Bush said, his voice rising with feelings “And I know, because I’m someone who’s been the smallest.”
At the end of his testimony, Bush said he thinks of other Black women and girls who may have gone through similar experiences.
“I need them to know that they can decide for their own bodies. And they need not walk in shame, or face any judgment that will come upon them, that they are strong, that they are powerful, that they are worthy, “said Bush, torn. “I need to be clear about speaking for them. Because if not, who else is speaking for us? And when people don’t speak for us, we keep dying at disturbing rates.”