cori bush abortion sexual assault
Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., wipes away a tear as she prepares to testify about her experience being raped and a subsequent abortion, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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Content warning: This article contains graphic details about sexual assault.

With women’s rights under attack in several states across the country, Congresswomen are stepping up to share their stories. Following the passage of SB 8 in Texas, which makes abortion illegal past six weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest, female politicians across the country are calling out those legislators who would further marginalize women.

In a special meeting of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney noted that women’s rights are also threatened by the far-right makeup of the current Supreme Court of the United States. Notably, the Supreme Court did not step in when Texas passed SB8, striking fear among supporters of women’s rights.

Meanwhile, Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Pramila Jayapal, (D-Wash.), and Barbara Lee, (D-Calif.), all shared their stories of obtaining abortions in the past, and what it took to access health care during those times. 

Congresswoman Bush graphically reveals she was raped

Representative Cori Bush shared her emotional story with the committee. “In the summer of 1994, I was raped. I became pregnant and I chose to have an abortion,” she said. Representative Bush was on a church trip when a young man came to her room late at night and attacked her. “I was frozen in shock as his weight pressed down upon me. When he was done, he got up, he pulled up his pants and without a word he left. That was it.”

cori bush abortion sexual assault

An emotional Bush continued through tears, “I was confused, I was embarrassed, I was ashamed. 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.”

Representative Bush, whose district is comprised of 50% Black and Brown residents, also explained the racism she experienced at that time. “To all the Black women and girls who have had abortions and will have abortions, we have nothing to be ashamed of. We live in a society that has failed to legislate love and justice for us.”

Congresswoman Lee details previous “back-alley” abortion

Representative Barbara Lee had what she referred to as a “back-alley” abortion at 16, and counts herself lucky to have survived the procedure. “A lot of women in my generation didn’t make it. They died from unsafe abortions.” Representative Lee’s experience has driven her to support women’s rights and access to safe and legal abortion. 

Representative Jayapal shared her experience with an unplanned pregnancy, following a battle with severe postpartum depression years before. “I knew I was not ready to have another child. I simply could not imagine going through that again.”

The committee met to draw attention to the barriers women face while attempting to access a safe and legal medical procedure. Later this year, SCOTUS will hear a case from Mississippi, challenging the state’s ban on abortion past 15 weeks. 

Erika Stone is a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program at the University of Oklahoma, and a graduate assistant at Schusterman Library. A Chess Memorial Scholar, she has a B.A. in Psychology...