It was one of the first times Bush, a Democrat from Missouri, spoke publicly about it and his decision to have an abortion.
During the House hearing, Bush recounted how shortly after graduating from high school, she attended a church trip to Jackson, Mississippi, in the summer of 1994. She was 17 at the time.
During 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 they were going to talk and laugh.
“But the next thing I knew was he was on top of me, playing with my clothes and not saying anything at all. ‘What’s going on?’ I thought. I didn’t know what to do. I was frozen in shock, just lying there as his weight weighed on me. When he was done, he stood up, pulled his pants up, and without a word – he left. That’s all. I was confused, I was embarrassed, I was ashamed. I wondered if this was something I had done? Bush recalled.
A few months after the trip, and then another year, Bush tried to contact the man after noticing that she had missed her period, but had never heard from him.
“I was 18. I was broke and felt so lonely. I blamed myself for what had happened to me,” Bush said.
Bush later found out that she was nine weeks pregnant and that was when “the panic set in,” she said.
“How could I have made this pregnancy work? How could I, at 18 and barely scratched, support a child on my own? And I would have been alone,” she said, explaining also how she feared being deported. by his parents or disappoint them.
Bush, who is black, also recalled how she was discriminated against while seeking health care during her pregnancy.
In a pre-abortion counseling session, Bush said she was told her baby would be “jumpy” because the fetus was already undernourished and underweight, and that she was getting overweight. would end up on food stamps and social assistance if she had the baby.
“People talked to me like garbage and that made my shame worse,” she said.
Bush said that “choosing to have an abortion was the hardest decision I have ever made, but at 18 I knew it was the right decision for me,” adding that “it was liberating to know that I had options “.
“To all the black women and girls who have or are about to have an abortion, we have nothing to be ashamed of. We live in a society that has failed to legislate love and justice for us. We deserve it. therefore better. We demand better. We deserve better, “said the member for Missouri. “That’s why I’m here to tell my story.”
“Two years ago, I decided to tell my story as a member of Congress because I was very concerned about legislation banning abortion coming out of states across the country. Today, I testify in front of you because I want you to know that there are so many different situations people face in making these choices, ”Jayapal said Thursday.
She said that “terminating my pregnancy was not an easy choice, but it was my choice”, arguing that “this is what must be preserved, for every pregnant person”.
Lee shared her poignant story of having an “alley abortion” in Mexico as a teenager – before the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade who legalized abortion in the United States.
She said on Thursday that she shared her story hoping it would help “de-stigmatize access to abortion care” and avoid “the real risk of the clocks being pushed back to the pre-Roe v Wade era.”
Republican Representative Kat Cammack from Florida spoke about how her mother, when pregnant with her, was advised by doctors to have an abortion.
“I am a living witness to the power of life and the incredible choice my mother made,” said Cammack.
Republicans on the panel also criticized their fellow Democrats for not using “precious time” to hold screening hearings on the migrant crisis on the southern border of the United States or the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan.
This story has been updated with additional information from the audience.
CNN’s Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.