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Bush among 17 members of Congress arrested protesting abortion ban outside Supreme Court

Congresswoman Cori Bush says the arrest was 'not the first day I’ve put my body on the line for our freedom,' but her primary opponent says, 'Do your job.'

ST. LOUIS, Missouri — U.S. Capitol Police arrested 35 protesters, including 17 members of Congress, during a peaceful demonstration outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday afternoon.

The demonstrators voiced their opposition to the conservative court's decision overturning Roe v Wade. Several states have activated abortion bans across the country in the weeks that followed.

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Missouri) led a line of protesters marching from the Capitol to the Supreme Court as they chanted, "Our body, our choice" and, "We won't go back."

At one point, a female officer in the U.S. Capitol Police warned the group to leave the street or face arrest.

"May I have your attention please," the officer said into a microphone loudspeaker. "Be advised: you're currently participating in an illegal demonstration activity. Cease and desist or you will be arrested."

Bush and a number of other members of Congress sat down in the street and refused to leave until officers came over and personally escorted them out of the street into a shaded area nearby. 

A statement from Bush's Congressional office later said she was arrested. 

“St. Louis sent me to Congress to do everything in my power to protect our rights and improve our lives," Bush said. "That’s why I’m fighting with everything I’ve got for my community. Yesterday and today I introduced legislation to protect reproductive freedom."

"Today was not the first day I’ve put my body on the line for our freedom, and I’m willing to do it again," she said. "As I’ve said before, we need to be doing everything in our power to secure reproductive justice and access to abortion. I am thankful for the members of Congress and organizers who banded together today and will continue doing so in the fight for reproductive freedom.”

Back in St. Louis, the Democrat challenging Bush in next month's primary commended her message but condemned her method. Steve Roberts, a state senator, described Bush's arrest as an ineffective publicity stunt.

"As an elected official, your priority needs to be, 'How do we find a solution? How do we solve this problem,'" he said. "Protesting as an elected official, that's not how you're going to get that done."

Roberts' campaign has portrayed himself as a more moderate Democrat who can maneuver bills through the legislative process and craft deals to achieve results that he argues have more impact than registering displeasure in an act of protest.

Roberts said he has joined several pro-choice protests in St. Louis, but he notes the state legislature was not in session at the time of the demonstration.

Bush's re-election campaign responded that she's capable of doing both.

"Congresswoman Cori Bush is a politivist—a politician and an activist—who has been organizing for years in support of reproductive freedom," Lynese Wallace, a senior advisor to her campaign, responded. "Just this week she introduced two bills advancing reproductive justice and taken action alongside 16 of her Democratic colleagues, including the Chair of the House Committee on which she sits, in front of the Supreme Court. And it's only Tuesday.

Wallace brushed Roberts' criticism off, and made reference to a number of women who have accused him of sexual assault.

"On the issues that matter to voters, the Congresswoman runs laps around the serial sexual assaulter and others in the race," Wallace said. "They can continue busying themselves with tearing down the leadership of Black women, and she will stay busy doing the work."

Roberts has denied the sexual assault accusations. In April, he published the details of a settlement he reached with Cora Faith Walker before her untimely death in March. Three months ago, a second woman provided 5 On Your Side with evidence of a $100,000 settlement she reached with Roberts' insurance company after accusing him of sexual assault. Roberts' team said that particular settlement was paid against his will, and referred to the transaction as a "separate civil matter."

The Missouri primary election is scheduled for Aug. 2.

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