On Thursday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal opened up in a New York Times op-ed about her decision to terminate a pregnancy in an effort to highlight the need for choice. She explained how doctors warned her that her pregnancy would likely be high-risk and could result in an extremely premature birth similar to what she had experienced when her child was born years earlier. The reactions to Pramila Jayapal's abortion story include applause for the legislator's bravery and gender-inclusive language.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Jayapal said efforts by anti-choice legislators to restrict abortion access in states across the country had made her increasingly more willing to share a story she'd kept private for 15 years. "I continued to get more and more angry, and then I woke up one day after all this news about the [abortion] ban and decided that I had been given this platform and I wanted to use it," the Washington representative said. "My stomach was tied up in knots, but after the piece came out and the reactions were people being thankful and grateful that I was normalizing this, I had myself a good cry and now I feel very powerful in my story."
Indeed, among Democrats, the reaction to Jayapal's op-ed was overwhelmingly positive. A number of her fellow members of Congress took to Twitter to thank her for her courage and advocacy. "Your bravery and leadership inspires me every single day," Rep. Ayanna Pressley said in a tweet to Jayapal. "I am honored to serve alongside you in the fight for justice and equity."
In thanking Jayapal for speaking out, Rep. Rashida Tlaib noted that, "Courage to speak up so others can be uplifted is the definition of leadership."
Abortion and reproductive rights advocates were also grateful to the Washington representative. "Everyone has a story," NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue tweeted. "This is my friend @RepJayapal's about her own personal decision 22 years ago. Proud to know her and love her."
But Jayapal's story resonated with more than just lawmakers and non-profit leaders. A number of Twitter users also voiced their appreciation that Jayapal had come forward to share her experience.
"Thank you for sharing this - it's so important," feminist writer Jessica Valenti tweeted to Jayapal. "My daughter was also born severely prematurely & I had an abortion when she was 3 yrs old for the same reasons you did. No one can understand this experience unless you've been through it."
"I wish we lived in an enlightened enough country that harrowing intensely personal stories weren't necessary to convince people that abortion is a constitutionally protected matter of healthcare, privacy, & bodily autonomy, but we don't," writer Amanda Guinzburg wrote in a tweet to Jayapal. "Your bravery will help. Thank you."
Others thanked the congressional legislator, who spoke about how her child is gender non-conforming while advocating for LGBTQ civil rights legislation last year, for using gender inclusive language in her op-ed. "Shoutout to @PramilaJayapal for using gender inclusive language throughout her abortion story," writer and reproductive justice activist Renee Bracey Sherman tweeted.
"Notice the lovely, careful, and inclusive language used in this piece around gender," University of Illinois associate professor Dr. Kate Clancy tweeted. "I wish it wasn't so rare to be notable. I'm grateful nonetheless."
Journalist Ana Sofia Knauf applauded Jayapal for using gender inclusive language not only when discussing her child, but also when talking about pregnancy as well. "This story is beautifully told in so many ways — including the deliberate use of 'pregnant people' rather than 'pregnant women,'" journalist Ana Sofia Knauf tweeted. "Thanks so much for sharing this deeply personal story @PramilaJayapal."