Editorial note: This article includes descriptions of rape, sexual assault.
Because American government can’t seem to understand that women’s bodies aren’t their fucking business, Missouri Rep. Cori Bush was forced to reveal her personal experience of how she was raped as a teen, became pregnant and had to get an abortion.
If the government stayed out of women’s business, Bush may have never needed to share this deeply personal, traumatic experience but because the call for women’s rights has fallen on deaf ears, Bush used her time to speak during a House Oversight Committee hearing Thursday called by “Democratic chair Carolyn Maloney to ‘examine the threat to abortion rights and access’ posed by the US Supreme Court and ‘extreme anti-choice state governments,’ in the wake of the Texas 6-week abortion bill,” CNN reports.
During the House hearing, Bush recounted how shortly after graduating high school, she attended a church trip to Jackson, Mississippi, in the summer of 1994. She was 17 at the time.
While on the trip, she met a 20-year-old man, a “friend of a friend.” The two flirted and he asked to visit her room. She invited him in, believing that they would talk and laugh.
“But the next thing I knew, he was on top of me, messing with my clothes, and not saying anything at all. ‘What is happening?’ I thought. I didn’t know what to do. I was frozen in shock, just laying there 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. I was confused, I was embarrassed, I was ashamed. I asked myself, was it something that I had done?” Bush recalled.
A few months after the trip and then a year older, Bush tried to contact the man after noticing she missed her period, but she never heard from him.
“I was 18. I was broke, and I felt so alone. I blamed myself for what had happened to me,” Bush said.
“Panic set in” Bush said, after learning that she was nine weeks pregnant.
“How could I make this pregnancy work? How could I, at 18 years old and barely scraping by, support a child on my own? And I would have been on my own,” she said, pointing out the fear of telling her parents.
Bush also recalled the racism she experienced when she sought out healthcare during her pregnancy.
Bush claimed that during a counseling session she was told a baby would be “jacked up” “because the fetus was already malnourished and underweight, and that she would end up on food stamps and welfare if she had the baby.”
“I was being talked to like trash and it worsened my shame,” she said, CNN reports.
Bush added: “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,” adding that it “was freeing knowing I had options.
“To all the Black women and girls who have had abortions or 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. But we deserve better. We demand better. We are worthy of better,” the Missouri congresswoman said. “So that’s why I’m here to tell my story.”
Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state and Barbara Lee of California also spoke during Thursday’s hearing about abortions they had years ago. Both women have shared their experiences with getting abortions before.
“Maloney pushed for Congress to pass Lee’s EACH Act, that would mandate federal health care programs to provide abortion services coverage, and for the Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. The Democratic-sponsored bill, which aims to establish a federally protected right to abortion care, was passed by the House on Friday,” CNN reports.