UC Berkeley law professor Khiara Bridges testified during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday concerning the legal consequences of overturning Roe v. Wade.
The hearing followed the recent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court. Bridges joined other professionals to testify in opposition to the decision.
“The painfully obvious point to make is that people with the capacity for pregnancy were not part of the body politic during the period of the nation’s history that the majority believes is decisive of the constitutional inquiry,” Bridges said at the hearing.
A particularly noteworthy moment of the testimony came when Bridges alleged U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, perpetrated transphobia in his line of questioning. Bridges received national attention for her response.
Hawley began his questioning by asking Bridges what she meant by “people with a capacity for pregnancy.” In return, Bridges explained that her phrasing was intentional to include nonbinary people and transgender men as individuals who can be capable of pregnancy.
Bridges emphasized that the overturning of Roe v. Wade does not solely affect women.
“We can recognize that this impacts women while also recognizing that it impacts other groups,” Bridges said during the hearing. “Those things are not mutually exclusive.”
The exchange followed Bridges’ earlier testimony where she explained how the decision, which concluded that abortion rights were not a part of the nation’s history or tradition, broadly affects groups who were not considered in the ratification of the 14th amendment in 1868.
Bridges noted that the LGBTQ+, disabled and immigrant communities, along with people of color and those with the capacity for pregnancy were not recognized or considered during the time important historical and legal documents were ratified.
Maya Manian, a former campus law professor and doctoral candidate at UC San Francisco, said Bridges’ comments were an impactful reminder that the decision has devastating health impacts for both the transgender and cisgender women’s rights communities.
“Let’s not get distracted by this supposed debate that it either has to be about women or trans people,” Manian said in an email. “In terms of protecting the health of trans people and women – it’s all aligned.”
Sonia Katyal, co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology and Haas professor, commended Bridges’ actions for highlighting the need for greater inclusion regarding transgender and nonbinary populations, especially in discussions on reproductive rights and autonomy.
Katyal also praised Bridges’ acknowledgement of how prejudice can “invisibilize” the reproductive interests of these communities and increase their risk for violence.
“Colleagues here at Berkeley already celebrate Bridges’ brilliance and courage,” Katyal said in an email. “Now the rest of the world sees it too.”