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Sunday, September 25, 2022

12-Year-Old Fights West Virginia’s Anti-Abortion Bill During Public Hearing

Charleston, W.Va. Ninety people, including a 12-year-old girl, spoke about West Virginia’s restrictive abortion bill during a public hearing on Wednesday.

House Bill 302 – which would ban abortion in almost all cases, allow the prosecution of abortion practitioners, and include no exceptions for victims of rape or incest – is being considered this week. After a judge blocked the abortion ban before Roe v. Wade, Governor Jim Justice (R) asked the legislature to “clarify and modernize” the state’s abortion rules. (Disclosure: The ACLU of West Virginia pursued that case, and this reporter’s husband was part of the legal team.)

In Wednesday’s public hearing, the speakers were given 45-45 seconds. The youngest girl to identify herself as 12-year-old Addison Gardner from Buffalo Middle School made an impassioned remark against Bill.

“I play for varsity volleyball and I run track. My education is very important to me, and I plan to do great things in life,” she said. object, and does unspeakable, sad things to me, so am I, a child, to bear and give birth to another child?”

“Can I save my body from the physical trauma of pregnancy? Will I suffer the mental consequences, a baby who had nothing to say about what was happening to my body?” She continued.” Some here say they are pro-life. What about my life? Doesn’t my life matter to you?”

A handful of speakers spoke in support of the bill, including many women who had abortions and later regretted it. Most of those who spoke were against the bill, calling it “disgusting,” “cowardly,” “delusional” and “inhumane.”

Some staff and volunteers from the Women’s Health Center, the state’s only abortion clinic, as well as doctors, religious leaders and more, also appeared. Several speakers, including Katie Quinonez, executive director of the Center for Women’s Health, who passed the 45-second time limit, continued to speak as they were ejected amid cheers.

Ash Orr, a transgender Appalachian organizer, whose pronoun they are, spoke about her experience of rape at the ages of 9 and 10.

“I want you to explain to me why as a child it would have been okay for me to raise the child of my rapist,” he said on the floor of the House. “Explain it to me like I’m one of those kids you’re ready to hurt.”

Orr told HuffPost that speaking in front of lawmakers was “an act of resistance and empowerment for me personally.” Orr, who recently shared her story at an abortion rights rally in front of the state capital, said she wants “trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people” to be part of the abortion rights conversation.

“As I said on the floor of the House, I have seen these legislators take away my rights as a trans person and a person with a uterus,” he told HuffPost. “I wanted them to understand that [they] They are not pro-life, they are pro-forced birth and control. They are on the side of rapists and I wanted them to sit with him.

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