Three lawmakers testified Thursday about their previous abortion procedures to the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday as Democrats sound the alarm over anti-abortion state laws.
Reps. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeHouse progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case Overturning Roe would be a disaster for young women of color CBC's pivotal role on infrastructure underscores caucus's growing stature MORE (D-Calif.), Cori BushCori BushOmar to accept award Saturday as American Muslim Public Servant of 2021 House progressives urge Garland to intervene in ex-environmental lawyer Steven Donziger's case The real 'threat to democracy'? Pols who polarize us with their opinions MORE (D-Mo.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalLawmakers call for investigation into proposed AT&T WarnerMedia, Discovery merger Democratic caucus chairs call for Boebert committee assignment removal Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE (D-Wash.) all detailed how they reached their decisions to get abortions years ago, saying they hoped their narratives would help destigmatize the procedure that has been immersed in controversy for decades.
In her testimony, Lee said she was sharing her experience for the first time publicly because “of the real risks of the clocks being turned back to those days before Roe v. Wade” when she had a “back-alley abortion in Mexico” at age 16.
“I was one of the lucky ones,” she said. “A lot of girls and women in my generation didn't make it. They died from unsafe abortions.”
Bush, who has previously disclosed she experienced sexual assault, recounted how she was raped at 17 years old while on a church trip. She found out about the pregnancy at nine weeks before she decided to get an abortion.
“Choosing to have an abortion was the hardest decision I had ever made,” she said. “But at 18 years old, I knew it was the right decision for me.”
She also directed remarks to Black women and girls who have had and will have abortions, saying, “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 better — we demand better."
Jayapal, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she chose to have an abortion after doctors told her the pregnancy could jeopardize her health and the health of her child.
The Washington lawmaker was already a mother to her child Janak, who was enduring ongoing health problems, and she said, “I simply could not imagine going through that again.”
“It is simply nobody's business what choices we as pregnant people make about our own bodies,” she said.
The three Democrats also told their abortion stories on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” on Wednesday evening.
Their testimonies come as debates on abortion rights have heightened after Texas implemented its six-week ban on the practice and as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on Mississippi’s 15-week ban.
These laws prompted the committee to hold the hearing.
“With a hostile Supreme Court, extremist state governments are no longer chipping away at constitutional rights — they are bulldozing right through them,” Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyFormer Washington Football Team cheerleaders, employees to protest outside stadium Oversight panel eyes excessive bail, jail overcrowding in New York City Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall MORE (D-N.Y.) said in her opening statement as chairwoman of the committee.
But ranking member James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerOvernight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate Oversight GOP eyes records on Afghanistan withdrawal GOP seeks oversight hearing with Kerry on climate diplomacy MORE (R-Ky.) argued in his opening statement that the committee had “absolutely no jurisdiction” over state abortion laws, saying the issue “should be left to the states.”
“That's not to say there isn't a role for the federal government in protecting life. We must continue to prevent taxpayer funding from being used for abortion services, as we learn more through modern science about an unborn child's development and ability to feel pain,” he said, referring to the Hyde amendment that prevents federal programs from covering abortions.
“Yet here we are having a hearing about a state's abortion law,” he added.
Republican Rep. Kat Cammack (Fla.) also shared her story about how her mother was advised by doctors and family to get an abortion when she was pregnant with Cammack.
“She did something that many of my colleagues here could have done,” she said. “Every woman's story is different, and these decisions do not come easy. But I am grateful every single day for resources available for my mom. Because in that moment, she chose life.”
The House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act, designed to protect abortion rights, in a narrow vote last week. Although it’s unlikely to pass in the upper chamber, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBuild Back Better Is bad for the states Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE (D-N.Y.) said he would schedule a vote for the bill.
The debate over abortion has heated up after the Supreme Court earlier this month declined to block Texas's bill banning abortions after a heartbeat can be detected, which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy. The law allows private citizens to sue anyone suspected of aiding or abetting an abortion procedure.
Reproductive rights activists have expressed concern that the Supreme Court’s decision on Texas could signal justices might overturn Roe v. Wade in the case of Mississippi’s abortion ban.
The Supreme Court plans to hear arguments on the direct challenge to the 1973 ruling in December.