During her testimony, Ms Bush described how she and other Black women were treated differently by clinic staff who told them that any children that they had would face poverty and made offhanded comments about how they were allegedly ruining their lives while making comments in the complete opposite vein to white women.
Rep Cori Bush delivered a heartbreaking account of her rape as a teenager and subsequent decision to have an abortion after being discriminated against by staff at the clinic that provided the service, at Thursday’s hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
“I overheard the clinic staff saying she had ruined her life, and that’s what they do…they being black girls,” Ms Bush said, referring to comments she heard about another Black patient.
The Missouri Democrat also offered support for other young women who found themselves in her situation, declaring: “To all the black girls who have abortions and will have abortions: you have nothing to be ashamed of.”
To all the Black women and girls who have had or will have abortions — know this: 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. pic.twitter.com/lZkpucCQ9v
— Congresswoman Cori Bush (@RepCori) September 30, 2021
The hearing on Thursday comes as progressives in the House are hoping to stir action in the Senate in support of codifying abortion rights into law.
Earlier this month, a law in the state of Texas took effect, despite attempts to stop it at the Supreme Court, banning abortions after six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. The Court’s new conservative majority, which is also set to take up a direct challenge to Roe v Wade later this year, is now seen by abortion rights activists as being on the verge of significantly rolling back rights for millions of American women.
As a result, many progressives including Ms Bush have endorsed sweeping changes to the Supreme Court, including “court packing”, or expanding the bench past the current total of nine justices. The tactic is not supported by President Joe Biden, but the administration relented to pressure and established a commission to investigate reforms to the Court earlier in 2021.
Ms Bush had not spoken publicly about her rape before Wednesday, when Vanity Fair published an interview with her in which she divulged the experience while explaining her passionate support for abortion rights.
The attack occurred while she attended a church camp; the alleged perpetrator was described by Ms Bush as being in his early 20s. On Thursday, she described how she never heard from him again even after she learned she was pregnant and reached out through mutual acquaintances.
In the article published on Wednesday she also discussed brutal harassment from anti-abortion picketers outside of the women’s clinic where she received the procedure.
“I remember thinking…You’re yelling at me, but you don’t know my story. You’re not going to help me with this baby if I had the baby. I felt like there was no mercy, coming from people that didn’t even know me,” the now-congresswoman said.