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Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 2, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Graeme Jennings/Pool/Getty Images)

WATCH: Hawley Taken to Task for Transphobic Questioning on Abortion Rights

"We can recognize that this impacts women while also recognizing it impacts other groups—those things are not mutually exclusive, Sen. Hawley," said a law professor testifying to a Senate committee.

Kenny Stancil

University of California, Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges reprimanded far-right Sen. Josh Hawley during a congressional hearing on Tuesday, accusing the Missouri Republican of asking transphobic questions.

"You've referred to people with a capacity for pregnancy. Would that be women?" Hawley asked Bridges during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on abortion rights titled, "A Post-Roe America: The Legal Consequences of the Dobbs Decision."

"Many cis women have the capacity for pregnancy. Many cis women do not have the capacity for pregnancy," Bridges responded. "There are also trans men who are capable of pregnancy as well as nonbinary people who are capable of pregnancy."

Apparently unsatisfied with Bridges' answer, Hawley fired back: "So this isn't really a women's rights issue, it's a... it's what?"

Bridges said, "We can recognize that this impacts women while also recognizing that it impacts other groups—those things are not mutually exclusive, Sen. Hawley."

When Hawley pressed Bridges to define what "the core of this right is about," the Berkeley professor told the Missouri Republican that his "line of questioning is transphobic, and it opens up trans people to violence."

After an incredulous Hawley asked, "Are you saying that I'm opening up people to violence by asking whether or not women can have pregnancies?" Bridges informed the right-wing lawmaker of the disproportionate rate at which trans people have attempted suicide. One recent study found that 82% of transgender individuals have contemplated suicide and 40% have tried to kill themselves, with suicidality highest among trans youth.

"Because of my line of questioning?" Hawley interjected disingenuously. "So we can't talk about it?"

Bridges explained to Hawley that his questions were "denying that trans people exist and pretending not to know that they exist."

After Hawley confirmed that he doesn't believe men can get pregnant, Bridges reiterated, "So you're denying that trans people exist."

"And that leads to violence?" Hawley asked again.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) applauded and thanked Bridges for sharing her expertise. She also marveled at the irony of Hawley—who infamously saluted January 6 insurrectionists before voting against the certification of President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory—feigning surprise "at the recognition that he incites violence."

Tuesday's hearing focused on the legal implications of last month's 6-3 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court's reactionary majority to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion care—a decision that Physicians for Human Rights noted will have deadly consequences and puts the U.S. in violation of international law.

During her testimony, Bridges highlighted the connections between the GOP's tidal wave of voter suppression laws and its assault on reproductive freedom.

"The states that are passing the most restrictive laws around abortion are also the states that are preventing people from voting," said the Berkeley law professor.

While Senate Republicans such as Mike Lee (Utah) and Ted Cruz (Texas) argue that the high court has simply "returned" the question of abortion to the "elected representatives of states," said Bridges, "these are the same states that are stopping people from voting."

"Texas has the most restrictive voting laws on the books," Bridges pointed out. "Texas' S.B. 8 doesn't represent the will of the majority of Texans," she continued, referring to the state's devastating law that rewards vigilantes with at least $10,000 each time they successfully sue a person who provides or helps someone access an abortion after six weeks.

"Texas' S.B. 8 represents the will of the majority of Texans that were able to vote," Bridges added. "So in order for this to be a democracy, we have to protect voting rights."

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and Lifeline Chat is available at SuicidePreventionLifeline.org. The Trevor Project's crisis counselors can be reached at 1-866-488-7386, by texting "START" to 678-678, or through chat at TheTrevorProject.org. Both offer 24/7, free, and confidential support.


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