Three Democrats to share their abortion stories ahead of hearing

NBC News

Democratic Reps. Cori Bush (Mo.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) and Barbara Lee (Calif.) shared their personal stories of getting abortions in interviews airing on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” on Wednesday evening, one day before a House Oversight Committee hearing on state anti-abortion laws.

Speaking with NBC News’s Ali Vitali, the three lawmakers all cited their upbringings as well as their desires for privacy for not previously disclosing their abortions in public, despite advocating for reproductive rights.

Bush said she became pregnant when she was raped at a church youth convention by a man “several years” older than her when she was 17.

“I just knew that I wasn’t ready for a child,” said Bush.

The Missouri congresswoman was directed by her friends to a center where birth control was given and was able to receive an abortion. According to Bush, she was able to get the abortion without having to “jump through a bunch of hoops,” which she expressed gratitude for.

“I had so much going on that I didn’t need all these other things in the way of me getting services,” she said.

Bush has previously disclosed that she had been raped and abused, saying last year that she was “not ashamed” and would “proudly bring that pain to Congress to fight for those who never got a chance to.”

Lee explained that she became pregnant when she was 16, noting that she wasn’t sure what was happening at the time due to sexual education not being offered at her Catholic school.

When Lee said she wanted an abortion, her mother sent her to a friend in El Paso, Texas, who then took her to a doctor in a “back alley clinic in Mexico.”

“I was terrified. I didn’t know what was taking place. And in fact, you know, I survived. And why it’s so important now for me to tell the story is, I don’t want any woman to ever have to go to through that,” Lee told Vitali, noting the many women, Black women in particular, have died in back-alley abortion clinics.

Jayapal decided to terminate a pregnancy when she was already a mother. Her child, Janak, had experienced health problems and was still experiencing seizures when she became pregnant again, despite being on birth control.

Jayapal said her doctors told her that another pregnancy could progress similarly to her last one and warned that she could be susceptible to high-risk childbirths.

“All my energy was still with Janak. I just realized that there was no way I could have another baby at that time, and that I could not go through what I had gone through,” said Jayapal, adding that she had experienced postpartum depression after her first pregnancy and had once considered committing suicide.

“I never talked about it publicly because as much as I was publicly talking about how important this was, I felt like it was my story and it was hard for me to talk about because I wanted to. It was a difficult decision for me,” she said.

When asked by Vitali why they were testifying, Jayapal said it was because “testifying makes it official. It puts it in the record.”

“We are making the connection to something that is so critical for every family across America, for every pregnant person across America,” said Jayapal.

The three Democratic lawmakers are set to testify on their abortion experiences Thursday in front of the House Oversight Committee, which is examining the anti-abortion legislation approved in Texas and other states.

Tags Abortion abortion access Barbara Lee Barbara Lee Cori Bush Cori Bush House Oversight Committee Joy Reid MSNBC NBC News Pramila Jayapal Pramila Jayapal Rape

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