After what failed pregnancy should she have been jailed? Representative Lucy McBath on Reproductive Rights

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AMY GOOD MAN: Amy, I want to get your comment on a speech that was made in the House. I wanted to refer to Democratic Congresswoman Lucy McBath of Georgia, who is actually running in the Georgia primary next week. During a House Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday, she shared her personal story about access to reproductive care.

REP. LUCY McBATHROOM: Like so many women in America, for years I struggled to get pregnant. My husband and I tried everything we could to start our own family. And finally, we succeeded. He had never been so happy. And I prayed for this moment for so many years. I wanted to tell everyone. I just wanted to shout it from all the mountain tops. For weeks I began to dream of our life and our future together. And then one day I woke up covered in blood.

And it’s hard to describe the agony of a miscarriage. It’s heartbreak, it’s helplessness, it’s pain and it’s deep sadness. Millions of women suffer from them. And I’ve heard from many who felt guilty like I did, who felt we weren’t worth having a child. Those are the same feelings that slipped through my mind. And every time I’ve had these difficult discussions with other women, I remind them that they are strong and powerful beyond measure, and that their value is far greater than their ability to procreate. However, it seems that those who support this decision do not agree.

After my second miscarriage, I wondered, again in my pain, if God had decided that I should never be a mother. So when I finally got pregnant again, I was overjoyed. It was as if I believed that God was giving me and my husband; Finally, I had a plan for us to be parents. But after four months, while feeling terror and trauma in my heart, I was rushed to the emergency room. There, with my doctor and husband, I learned that I had suffered a stillbirth or stillbirth. Once again, I was filled with anguish, sorrow and guilt. And I tried as hard as I could, and yet I still felt like I had failed trying to be a mother.

My doctor thought it would be better and safer to terminate the pregnancy naturally, without the drugs that are used so often. So, for two weeks, I carried my dead fetus and waited for it to go into labor. For two weeks, people passed me on the street telling me how beautiful I looked, asking how long I had, and saying how excited they were for me and my future with my son. For two weeks, I carried a miscarriage and the torment that comes with it. I never went into labor alone. When my doctor finally induced me, I faced the pain of labor with no hope of having a living child.

This is my story. It’s just my story, and yet it’s not that unique. Millions of women in America, women in this room, women in their homes, and women they love and cherish, have suffered a miscarriage. And so I ask, on behalf of these women: After what failed pregnancy should she have been jailed? Would it have been after the first miscarriage, after doctors used what would be an illegal drug to abort the lost fetus? Would you have put me in jail after the second miscarriage? Perhaps that would have been the moment, forced to reflect in the confinement before the guilt he felt, the guilt that so many women feel after losing their pregnancies. Or would I have been put behind bars after my stillbirth, after being forced to carry a dead fetus for weeks, after asking God if I would ever be able to raise a child?

And I ask because the same drug that is used to treat my failed pregnancies is the same drug that states like Texas would make illegal. I ask because if Alabama makes abortion a murder, does it make a miscarriage a manslaughter? I ask because I want to know if the next woman who miscarries at three months, she will be forced to carry her stillborn fetus to term.

So, for the women in your life whose stories you don’t know, for the women across the country whose lives you may not understand, and for the women in America who have been through things you just can’t fathom, I say this: Rights women’s rights are human rights, reproductive health care is health care, and medical decisions should be made by women and those they trust, not by politicians and officials.

We have a choice: we can be the nation that turns back the clock, that turns back women’s rights and strips them of their own freedom, or we can be the nation of choice, the nation where every woman can make her own choice. Freedom is our right to choose.

AMY GOOD MAN: That was Georgia Congresswoman Lucy McBath speaking Wednesday at the House Judiciary Committee hearings on abortion access. A year after the stillbirth she described, Lucy McBath gave birth to her son Jordan Davis. In 2012, Jordan was shot and killed by a white man over a dispute over loud music at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. Jordan was 17 years old. Before running for Congress, Lucy McBath became a leading gun control advocate.

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Still with us, Amy Littlefield, abortion access correspondent for The nation. I mean, this is a powerful direction, a real human experience. Amy, if you can take off from there and also talk about the phone call that you were on, multiple people were talking about what to do with the Supreme Court.

AMY SMALL FIELD: Oh Amy, it’s heartbreaking, I mean, just thinking about the layers of loss that Lucy McBath has endured, losing a little boy who was shot to death by a white man in a parking lot because he and his friends were playing loud music. . , Correct? And her story just shows, you know, these are the women, these are the situations that people are going to die in when Roe vs. Wade falls. Right? We now have access to safe drugs to induce abortion. we didn’t do it before Roe vs. Wade. But women in situations, and especially black women and people of color in situations where they’re losing a pregnancy, when they show up at a hospital in a state like Oklahoma that’s going to have a total abortion ban, and the staff doctor no I don’t know: Is this person sick enough? Are they dead enough that we can terminate a pregnancy? Or they are not trained on how to terminate that pregnancy because there is no legal abortion in the state, and all the people who are trained on how to provide that care are no longer able to do so. You know, I’m not sure anyone is prepared for what happens when a country that has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, and a rate that’s three times as high for black women, is faced with a system of Mass criminalization that also Disproportionately Affects Black people clashes with outright abortion bans and the criminalization of people who help people access abortions, or even people themselves. Right? I mean, I’m not sure anyone is prepared for what it will be.

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But I think the groups that I really turn to that are mobilizing the most aggressively around this are reproductive justice groups led by Black women, led by people of color, at the state level. And I want to tell you about Michelle Colón, who is a reproductive justice leader in Mississippi, who has been at the center of the Supreme Court case. Michelle has been quoted everywhere, right? She is out there speaking at rallies, in the media, because Mississippi is at the center of the Supreme Court case. Her organization has a budget of $100,000. She hasn’t been able to leave her full-time job as a consultant, nor has her co-founder. And she is there fighting for the right to vote, thinking about infant and maternal mortality. You know, these are the underfunded organizations and people who are really on the front lines.

So, yesterday I was part of this call in which a coalition of state organizations, actually they were former NORAL affiliates in the states — came together and made this great call: We need to expand the Supreme Court. And I thought it was really amazing, this call to expand the Supreme Court, in coalition with some progressive members of Congress, was coming from the states, it was coming from a place where abortion has almost been restricted for so long.

AMY GOOD MAN: Amy Littlefield, I want to thank you so much for being with us. This is a discussion that we will of course continue Democracy Now! Amy is an abortion access correspondent for The nation. his new cover storylink to democraticnow.org, it’s called “The Fight for Abortion After Roe Falls.”

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And that does it for our program. An early happy birthday to Tey-Marie Astudillo. Democracy Now! produced with Renée Feltz, Mike Burke, Deena Guzder, Messiah Rhodes, Nermeen Shaikh, María Taracena, Tami Woronoff, Camille Baker, Charina Nadura, Sam Alcoff, Tey-Marie Astudillo, John Hamilton, Robby Karran, Hany Massoud, Mary Conlon, Juan Carlos Davila. Our executive director, Julie Crosby. I’m Amy Goodman. Thank you for joining us.