Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says she once feared she would need to undergo an abortion after being sexually assaulted, saying it left her feeling “horrified” and “really alone” but that she “at least had a choice”.
The New York Democrat first disclosed that she is a survivor of sexual assault in 2021.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC as she is informally known, made the remarks on Thursday a little more than a week after Senate Democrats failed to pass a law to codify the protections of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v Wade decision.
A leaked draft opinion from the conservative-majority court suggests the landmark ruling is set to be overturned.
“I have, you know, publically kind of talked about my experience with sexual assault in the past. After you experience something that traumatising and if you are a person that menstruates you know your cycle, and this happened to me, your cycle can be really really thrown off,” she said during an Instagram Live appearance while raising funds for abortion care.
“You may miss a cycle, you may not even be pregnant but miss a cycle because of the amount of the immense trauma and stress of experiencing that,” she continued.
“I remember when that happened the horror that I had felt and I felt really alone,” she said, adding that she had grown up in a religious household and her choices were deeply personal.
“And that is why it is a choice for every person.”
“I remember in that moment after what happened I was so horrified. What I do remember in that moment was that I had felt like no matter what’d happened... I at least had a choice in what happened to my life after a choice was taken away from me... after a choice over my body was taken away from me,” the representative added.
Amid efforts in conservative-led states to ban abortions across the US, Democrat leaders have been sharing their stories of abortions and miscarriages to advocate for women’s reproductive rights.
A formal decision in Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization, at the centre of the Supreme Court’s ruling for Roe v Wade, is expected in the coming weeks.
Nearly 25 states in the US are expected to immediately outlaw abortion, including 13 states with so-called “trigger” bans in place designed to take effect without overarching federal protections for abortion access.
“No person, no man... no person can ethically take your body and use it how they want without their consent and that is exactly what Republicans are doing right now,” Ms Ocasio-Cortez said.
“...they are forcing themselves upon women’s bodies, forcing their opinion, forcing their perspective on women’s bodies without their consent. They are violating not just women but trans people and non-binary people in this country,” she added.
The congresswoman announced that women facing difficulty in accessing abortion care in Texas, Oklahoma or any other state were welcome in New York.
“We will do what we can to welcome you. We have taken action on a state level, including opening up abortion funds to help people with transportation needed to get here,” she said.
A new study published by the Utah Women's Health Review showed the median distance women have to travel to seek an abortion will triple if the Supreme Court repeals the landmark ruling.
Congresswoman Lucy McBath shared her struggles with miscarriages on Wednesday to question the Republican party’s stance on legislation introduced in conservative states that could impact the treatment of women who had undergone miscarriages and stillbirths.
“This is my story. It’s uniquely mine — yet it is not unique,” she said, pointing out that millions of women in America have suffered from a miscarriage.
“So I ask, on behalf of these women: After which failed pregnancy should I have been imprisoned,” Ms McBath said.