MSNBC Helps Dems Attempt to ‘Shake Loose A Partisan Debate’ on Abortion

On Thursday’s Stephanie Ruhle Reports, congressional correspondent Ali Vitali joined guest host Chris Jansing to preview a House Oversight Committee hearing where three Democratic congresswomen would share their personal stories in an effort to gin up support for abortion. As part of the preview, MSNBC sat down for a softball chat with the left-wing lawmakers to help them do just that.

According to Vitali, the goal of Reps. Cori Bush, Pramila Jayapal, and Barbara Lee was to “use their experiences as a sign of their expertise and what they bring to this policy debate. Their hope is that other women can see themselves reflected in their stories, but also that it can shake loose a partisan debate on abortion access at a time when we’re seeing states restrict the right to abortion across the country.”

Not only does having an abortion not making you an expert on abortion, MSNBC also was a willing partner in their efforts, “I want to play for you, though, some of their emotional stories. These are the things they are going to say in front of the House Oversight Committee in just a few minutes when they testify. But they trusted us to tell their stories yesterday in an exclusive interview.”

In the interview, Bush would portray abortion as convenient, “When I found out I was pregnant, it was very difficult because I still didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t even realize how– what to do. I knew I wasn’t ready for a child.”

Jayapal framed it as a matter of mental health:

I just realized that there was no way I could have another baby at that time. And that I could not go through what I had gone through. I had gone through postpartum depression after [son] Janak’s birth. I, you know, even contemplated suicide at one time and I knew I was not ready to go through that again.

Lee recalled “My mother’s friend said, look, I know a very good doctor, but he’s in a back alley clinic in Mexico. I was terrified. I didn’t know what was taking place. And in fact, you know, I survived and why it’s so important now for me to tell the story is I don’t want any woman to ever have to go through that.”

Back live, Vitali noted how the three “spanned generations,” described abortion advocates as “reproductive advocates,” and claimed the trio wanted to “destigmatize these kinds of stories.”

At this point, Jansing remembered that there is another side to the abortion debate, “And what can you tell us, Ali, about the late addition of Republican Congresswoman Kat Cammack to the list of speakers?” 

Vitali described Cammack as “a very stark contrast” who would be “talking about herself as someone who has survived abortion because her own mother decided not to have an abortion despite the fact that her mother’s pregnancy carried health risks.”

Sounds like Cammack could have a compelling story to tell, but unlike the Democratic women, she did not get a free MSNBC platform to share it.

This segment was sponsored by Progressive.

Here is a transcript for the September 30 show:

MSNBC

Stephanie Ruhle Reports

9:32 AM ET

ALI VITALI: Yeah, Chris, these are not stories easily shared for these congresswomen. They’re also stories you don’t often hear here in the halls of Capitol Hill, but that’s part of why these lawmakers wanted to testify, to put it in the congressional record and to use their experiences as a sign of their expertise and what they bring to this policy debate. Their hope is that other women can see themselves reflected in their stories, but also that it can shake loose a partisan debate on abortion access at a time when we’re seeing states restrict the right to abortion across the country. I want to play for you, though, some of their emotional stories. These are the things they are going to say in front of the House Oversight Committee in just a few minutes when they testify. But they trusted us to tell their stories yesterday in an exclusive interview. Listen. 

CORI BUSH: When I found out I was pregnant, it was very difficult because I still didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t even realize how– what to do. I knew I wasn’t ready for a child. 

PRAMILA JAYAPAL: I just realized that there was no way I could have another baby at that time. And that I could not go through what I had gone through. I had gone through postpartum depression after Janak’s birth. I, you know, even contemplated suicide at one time and I knew I was not ready to go through that again. 

BARBARA LEE: My mother’s friend said, look, I know a very good doctor, but he’s in a back alley clinic in Mexico. I was terrified. I didn’t know what was taking place. And in fact, you know, I survived and why it’s so important now for me to tell the story is I don’t want any woman to ever have to go through that. I know what that back alley looked like. I know what that dark light looked like. I see it right now. You know, like I was one of the fortunate ones. 

VITALI: Chris, these stories didn’t just span experiences that led these congresswomen to make these decision, but they also spanned generations. One of the things you hear about from reproductive advocates and Democrats who say that now is a very important moment to act on federal codification for abortion access laws, one of the reasons that they say that is because they’re concerned that a conservative-leaning Supreme Court could roll back the protections offered the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. For one Congresswoman Barbara Lee, she chose to have her abortion before that law and before that case even happened in the Supreme Court. So she’s not talking theoretically about a time before Roe. For her, you heard her say it there. She knows what that back alley looks like and she’s telling her story now despite how hard it was for her to do so, so that other women can see that’s a reality that she feels could come again. I also think it’s important in the larger context of this debate with these congresswomen hope to do is destigmatize these kinds of stories because the number of women who access abortion in the United States is probably higher than some people might think. One in four women by the time they are 45 will choose to have an abortion, according to one study that we looked at. That’s the goal for these Democratic women as they testify here today on Capitol Hill. 

CHRIS JANSING: And what can you tell us, Ali, about the late addition of Republican Congresswoman Kat Cammack to the list of speakers? 

VITALI: Well, that’s going to provide a very stark contrast against the three Democratic lawmakers that we spoke to. They’re going to share their stories of why they chose to access abortion. Congresswoman Cammack is going to speak in the opposite direction. Talking about herself as someone who has survived abortion because her own mother decided not to have an abortion despite the fact that her mother’s pregnancy carried health risks. She’s going to talk about her mother’s choice to continue having that pregnancy. But that’s really the contrast that we’re going to see here on this testimony and you and I both know we’ve covered this issue for a long time. Deeply, deeply entrenched on both sides. That’s what these lawmakers hope to do is shake the policy debate loose a little bit.

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