By Jonathon Van Maren
A moment from Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the impact of the Supreme Court’s June 24 Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade has gone viral, with Senator Josh Hawley getting into an extraordinarily bizarre exchange with University of California-Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges on whether or not men can get pregnant. This exchange was illustrative of a number of things, including the difficulty the Democrats will have attempting to use the fall of Roe to motivate their base. But first, the exchange, which was so revealing it was worth transcribing in full.
Hawley asked Bridges to clarify what she meant the phrase “people with a capacity for pregnancy,” querying whether she meant “women” by that phrase. Bridges went on the offensive immediately.
“Many cis women have the capacity for pregnancy. Many cis women do not have the capacity for pregnancy. There are also trans man who are capable of pregnancy as well as nonbinary people who are capable of pregnancy,” she responded.
Hawley: “So this isn’t really a women’s rights issue?”
Bridges: “We can recognize that this impacts women while also recognizing that it impacts other groups. Those things are not mutually exclusive, Senator Hawley.”
Hawley: “So your view is that the core of this right then is about what?”
Bridges, eyes bulging: “I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic and it opens trans people up to violence.”
Hawley: “So you’re saying I’m opening people up to violence by asking whether or not women are the folks who can have pregnancies?”
Bridges: “I want to note that one out of five transgender persons have attempted suicide…”
Hawley: “Because of my line of questioning? So we can’t talk about it?”
Bridges: “Because denying that trans people exist and pretending not to know that they exist is dangerous.”
Hawley: “I’m denying that trans people exist by asking you if you’re talking about women having pregnancies?”
Bridges: “Do you believe that men can get pregnant?”
Hawley: “No, I don’t think that men can get pregnant.”
Bridges: “Then you’re denying that trans people exist. Thank you.”