Texas' restrictive abortion law was the subject of a U.S. House committee hearing Thursday. It's been 30 days since the law, Senate Bill 8, went into effect banning the procedure as early as six weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest.
Some witnesses at the Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing urged members of Congress to pass federal legislation that would supersede the state law and ensure access to reproductive health care services.
California Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee shared her own experience of seeking an abortion at the age of 16 in her home city of El Paso.
"As hard as it is to talk about it, I hope that regardless of your personal views it will help you understand. Understand that people deserve a right to make their own reproductive decisions about their lives, their bodies and their futures," Lee said.
Feminist writer and activist Gloria Steinem also spoke at the hearing. She said the Texas law is a step against democracy.
"The huge majority of American women stand for democracy and in opposition to Texas Senate Bill 8. We do not want to have our bodies nationalized," Steinem said. "Otherwise, we will be very close to turning back the clock to the days of the 1950s when one in three women had an illegal and a dangerous abortion."
Two board-certified OB-GYNs also testified at the hearing on Thursday — one in support of SB 8 and another against it.
Dr. Ingrid Skop lives in San Antonio and is the medical director of four "pregnancy centers" in the state, including Any Woman Can and The Source clinics in Austin and Houston.
"We have created a class of humans considered unworthy of life on their own merits, valuable only if someone else desires them," Skop said. "We need to reexamine this as a scientific and human rights issue, not through the lense of political partisanship or social engineering."
Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, on the other hand, identifies as a "proud abortion provider." She is a board member for the Physicians for Reproductive Health.
Moayedi told House committee members that The Women's Health Protection Act is a critical step, but it's not enough.
"We need legislation that will protect pregnant people and birthing people in all of their decisions so they can live their healthiest lives," she said.
"SB 8 has not only cause a near-total abortion ban in Texas, it has made it extremely dangerous to be pregnant in Texas where our maternal morbidity and mortality rate is already unconscionably high, especially for Black women and pregnant people of color."
Today, I sat before the Oversight Committee as a nurse, pastor, activist, survivor, single mom, and Congresswoman to testify that in the summer of 1994 I was raped, became pregnant, and chose to have an abortion.
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) September 30, 2021
President Joe Biden's administration sued the state of Texas earlier this month over SB 8. A federal judge on Friday will consider the administration's request to block the law's enforcement.
Rallies will be held across the U.S. — including San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston — on Saturday to advocate for abortion rights.
Bri Kirkham contributed to this story.