“I Hadn’t Even Processed It”: Rep. Cori Bush on Telling Her Abortion Story Before Congress

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That was the moment when I felt like, “Okay, Cori, if there’s anything you can do, you have to do something.” This law is ludicrous! It’s unbelievable that something like that could actually pass, and it makes you think, how many more bills like this will pass, with no exceptions for rape or incest survivors? That $10,000 bounty [for private citizens who file civil suits against anyone suspected of helping a pregnant person access an abortion]…I’m just wondering, who voted for this bill? This affects people who have had abortions, and the people who love them, whether they know their loved ones have had abortions or not. We know that banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion, it just stops safe abortion, and the idea of human beings doing this to other human beings is just appalling. In my district, NARAL and the ACLU and some other organizations came together to host a rally shortly after S.B. 8 passed, and I didn’t tell my story at that rally, but it did get me in the mindset of thinking about how to tell it.

You’ve been such an advocate for the rights of Black birthing people, and I’m wondering if you feel your race impacted the way you were treated when you were seeking an abortion.

Oh, absolutely. I was treated differently on purpose, and it was very blatant. When I called to set up my procedure, everything was fine, but on the actual day of the procedure, I had to show that I had the money to pay for it, which was odd. Once I sat down, I was listening to employees talk negatively about another girl, and I remember that I was feeling alone, I was vulnerable, and I didn’t know how much pain I was about to be in. I didn’t know how I would feel emotionally, mentally, or physically afterwards, or what the long-term effects would be. I didn’t know when I was going to be able to go back to school. Just hearing the people who were supposed to be taking care of us made me wonder, “Well, what do they say about me?” I went into the room for “counseling,” and then I absolutely knew what they thought about me. I felt belittled, and there was nothing they could point to in terms of “This is why we’re judging you in this way.” There was no background information I had to fill out to say how much money I made, or what my background was, or who my parents were. They were singling me out and treating me this way because I was Black. I was seen as a statistic who had done something wrong; ~~like, my life won’t get better, I’m going to be back here in a few months. I internalized that, and I didn’t know how to push back against it because I was so vulnerable at that time. I felt like they were the good people, and I was bad.

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