Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal revealed Thursday that she had an abortion 22 years ago, calling it “heartbreaking” but the right decision.
The congresswoman, in an op-ed for The New York Times, said her first pregnancy had complications and her child, Janak, was born prematurely, had multiple blood transfusions, and spent months in an intensive neonatal care unit.
Afterward, Ms. Jayapal was warned by doctors that a second pregnancy carried a high risk of those same complications.
“I could not simply hope for the best — I had to make a decision based on the tremendous risks that had been clearly laid out for me,” she wrote. “I decided I could not responsibly have the baby. It was a heartbreaking decision, but it was the only one I was capable of making.”
Her op-ed comes as the abortion debate has been revived, fueled by conservative states’ new laws restricting the procedure, even as liberal states look to enhance legal protections and Democrats in Washington vow to expand taxpayer funding for women who obtain abortions.
“I have never spoken publicly about my abortion,” Ms. Jayapal tweeted. “I’m speaking now because of intensified efforts to strip constitutional rights from pregnant people and to criminalize abortion.”
Nearly a decade ago, Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier revealed her abortion as lawmakers were roiled in debate over federal funding for Planned Parenthood on the House floor.
In an interview with NPR, she explained that she wanted to share her experience after Republican Rep. Chris Smith described an abortion procedure in detail in a floor speech.
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