Three US politicians spoke publicly about their abortions on Wednesday ahead of a hearing examining increasingly restrictive access to pregnancy terminations in many states.
Democrats Barbara Lee, 75, Pramila Jayapal, 56, and 45-year-old Cori Bush are due to speak about their experiences at Thursday's congressional committee.
The hearing -- which will also look into possible federal protections for women seeking terminations -- comes a month after Texas effectively banned abortions after six weeks, making no exception for rape or incest.
"I thought it was important for me to try to muster up the nerve to be able to talk about it," Lee said of the illegal abortion she had in Mexico at age 16.
She said she wanted to "help people understand why these laws could kill women."
Lee's experience was before the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case, when the US Supreme Court guaranteed the right to an abortion up until a fetus is viable outside the womb.
Before that, women were forced into dangerous illegal abortions -- often available only to those with the ability to travel and afford the procedure.
"I'll never forget that night. I was terrified," Lee told MSNBC. "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 to through that."
Earlier this month, Representative Diana DeGette noted that more than 500 laws restrict access to termination and 90 percent of US counties no longer have abortion clinics.
Ahead of the hearing, Bush tweeted: "I will share that when I was 17, I was raped, became pregnant, and got an abortion. And I am not ashamed."
In an interview, Bush said she was able to access services without jumping through "a bunch of hoops."
"I had enough problems, and I had enough pain. I had enough anguish," she said. "I had so much going on that I didn't need all these other things in the way of me getting services."
Jayapal, who also spoke out in 2019 about her termination, explained that after her first "incredibly difficult" pregnancy and birth she felt unable to go through it again.
"I had gone through postpartum depression after Janak's birth," said the congresswoman who chairs the House progressives, adding that she had "even contemplated suicide at one time."
The women speaking at Thursday's hearing understand access to abortion from "a personal perspective", she said. "We're going to fight for you like it's fighting for our own choice."