In the midst of relatively human-free government policy talks, it was a moment of pure humanity in Washington.
The Florida congresswoman Frederica Wilson spoke up during a week when Republicans, who had just taken control of the House of Representatives, debated whether pharmacists should be able to refuse to fill prescriptions for abortion-related drugs owing to religious concerns.
- Advertisement -
She was now prepared to share her own abortion story in public at the age of 80.
Congresswoman Wilson shared, “all I ever wanted since I was a little girl was plenty of children that I could love and cuddle and raise to greatness.
“After getting married in 1968, I would soon become a mother-to-be. It was the joy of my life, I was ecstatic. My husband was walking on the clouds … [We] would touch my stomach all the time just to feel the movement of our baby boy and the glory of a life growing inside of me,” she noted while addressing the chamber.
“Then at seven months the baby stopped moving. He was soon pronounced dead – right inside of my womb – and the doctor was prohibited by law from inducing labor,” she noted.
Her experience occurred five years before the Roe v. Wade decision of the US supreme court, which was overturned by the court’s conservative majority last June, which established the constitutional right to abortion.
Wilson stated in her moving address on Wednesday that she had previously been reluctant to discuss her personal experiences in relation to the abortion rights discussion because she did not want “to relive the most painful time in my entire life”.
However, she claimed that a Florida-related statistic inspired her to speak up.
According to the study she seemed to be citing, Florida and Georgia would have the worst maternal death rates in the nation and their rates would both rise by 29% if abortion became illegal nationwide.
According to the general tendency, a disproportionately high percentage of those women – roughly 39% nationally – will be Black and Hispanic. Wilson, a representative for a district that includes a portion of Miami, is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Florida is discussing whether to further restrict abortions beyond the existing 15-week restriction.
Wilson spoke passionately about the suffering, anguish, and horror she experienced while waiting to deliver a stillborn child at a time when she was unable to have an abortion.
The congresswoman noted that she cried excessively “every night and all day.”
She added, “my little body was wretched with pain, weakness, and frailty. I lost 50 pounds. I would crawl into a fetal position in my mother’s lap most of the day, and my husband’s most of the night.”
She continued by recounting her experience giving birth at eight and a half months and the anxious minutes that followed, during which she was cautioned that carrying a dead fetus within her body may result in a variety of consequences, including toxic shock syndrome.
Wilson stated, “after three days I left the maternity ward in a wheelchair, empty-handed, no baby, no nothing. I watched all of the mothers and families celebrate their newborns while I grieved and cried.”
“We had a small graveside burial for baby boy Wilson and doctors were so worried that I would also have to have a graveside burial,” she remarked.
“Do not take us back to the days before Roe v. Wade,” she urged, addressing Republican senators who want to pass legislation restricting reproductive rights.
The US Senate is controlled by Democrats, so House Republicans have absolutely no chance of passing any extreme anti-abortion legislation through that chamber. Nevertheless, this is unlikely to deter them from acting out.
The Democrats, on the other hand, never included the rights established by the decision in federal law in the 49 years following Roe v. Wade. Since Roe was overturned, each state is now able to safeguard abortion rights, enact bans, or place severe limitations on them.
Members of Congress who belong to the Democratic Women’s Caucus tweeted: “Our Caucus dressed in white today to show our collective resistance to the extreme MAGA Republicans’ anti-abortion agenda. We will always stand up for reproductive freedom & access to abortion care.”
Wilson’s colorful clothes and big, brilliantly colored, and bejeweled cowboy hats are what make her more well-known outside of congressional circles, but on Wednesday, her charm and flamboyance were channeled into a scathing speech and a call to the right.
She lamented the numerous, largely male, officials in the Republican party who persistently work to eliminate abortion safeguards for women in America as she concluded her remarks.
“You cannot put young, child-bearing women at risk because of the group of ludicrous, hateful majority-male congressmen who have no idea what it feels like to even bear the pain of childbirth or even have the courage to carry a child for nine months, who take pride in monitoring women’s vaginas. How dare you?” she questioned.
Wilson ended her heart-rendering story hoping to touch someone with these words, “May God help you find it in your heart to hear my story.”