A 12-year-old girl left people applauding after addressing the West Virginia state legislature about its restrictive and dangerous abortion law proposed in the state.
The girl's speech occurred at a public hearing about the law, House Bill 302 which bans abortion in all but the most extreme exceptions and criminalizes the procedure for doctors.
Each speaker at the hearing was given 45 seconds to speak.
12-year-old Addison Gardner made every single one of hers count.
See her speech below.
\u201cSpeakers at Wednesday\u2019s public hearing in WV were given 45 seconds each. The youngest, 12-year-old Addison Gardner from Buffalo Middle School, gave powerful remarks against HB302.\n\n\ud835\udc0b\ud835\udc22\ud835\udc2c\ud835\udc2d\ud835\udc1e\ud835\udc27 \ud835\udc2d\ud835\udc28 \ud835\udc21\ud835\udc1e\ud835\udc2b. Vote 4 people who value \ud835\udc21\ud835\udc1e\ud835\udc2b. \n\n#Vote4Democrats\u201d— Justice Seeker \ud83d\uddfd \u262e\ufe0f ~ Keep moving forward (@Justice Seeker \ud83d\uddfd \u262e\ufe0f ~ Keep moving forward) 1658949541
The bill provides a total ban on abortion in all but cases of rape and incest but not for the life of the pregnant person, and also allows criminal prosecution of doctors who provide the procedure.
Gardner gave an impassioned plea to the legislature for a more reasonable abortion rights law.
She asked lawmakers:
“If a man decides that I’m an object, and does unspeakable, tragic things to me, am I, a child, supposed to carry and birth another child?”
“Am I to put my body through the physical trauma of pregnancy?"
"Am I to suffer the mental implications, a child who had no say in what was being done with my body?"
The bill, which has passed the West Virginia House of Delegates, does provide exceptions for some, but not all, cases of rape and incest. But the requirements are so stiff they will make access impossible for most people.
In order to obtain an abortion in the case of rape and incest, the victim will have to have reported the crime to law enforcement, which is often impossible for victims for myriad reasons, especially for those who are minors.
The pregnant person will also have to have a medical professional confirm the fetus was under 14 weeks and all other rules of the bill were followed—a requirement easily thwarted by anti-abortion doctors who can simply lie and refuse to sign off on the procedure.
Ash Orr, a transgender activist from the state's Appalachian region who spoke about having been raped at the ages of 9 and 10, pointed out the cruelty of these policies.
“I want you to explain to me why it would have been OK for me as a child to have carried my rapist’s child."
"Explain it to me like I’m one of the children that y’all are willing to traumatize.”
Gardner went on to underline the hypocrisy inherent to this approach to abortion access by West Virginia Republicans.
"Some here say they are pro-life. What about my life? Does my life not matter to you?”
On Twitter, people applauded Gardner for speaking out and were outraged by the bill.
\u201c@tizzywoman As a person who lost her virginity at 13, (statutory rape) she is absolutely entitled to ask that question. And she is owed an intelligent answer.\u201d— Justice Seeker \ud83d\uddfd \u262e\ufe0f ~ Keep moving forward (@Justice Seeker \ud83d\uddfd \u262e\ufe0f ~ Keep moving forward) 1658949541
\u201c@JessicaValenti I don\u2019t understand why they are doing this. Do they not understand the real life ramifications of their actions?! 10 years ago, Todd Aiken lost his senate race over \u201clegitimate rape\u201d comments. Now they are making it a huge part of their platform.\u201d— Jessica Valenti (@Jessica Valenti) 1659015829
\u201c@JessicaValenti It\u2019s so sad that this little girl actually has to think about this and say these words and it won\u2019t matter. How is she going to feel when her efforts are ignored and it\u2019s confirmed that, no, they don\u2019t care about her life. Tragic lesson at such a young age.\u201d— Jessica Valenti (@Jessica Valenti) 1659015829
\u201c@tizzywoman @GregLon42879786 I lived a couple miles from Buffalo Middle School from 2000-2020. It\u2019s in Wayne County, a very red, very Christian county. This girl was brave to get up and speak her mind.\u201d— Justice Seeker \ud83d\uddfd \u262e\ufe0f ~ Keep moving forward (@Justice Seeker \ud83d\uddfd \u262e\ufe0f ~ Keep moving forward) 1658949541
\u201cRita Ray, 80, who risked her life pre-Roe by getting an abortion from someone who wasn\u2019t a healthcare provider, watches on as Addison Gardner, 12, contemplates her own future without access to legal abortion in WV.\u201d— Kyle Vass (@Kyle Vass) 1658960034
\u201cDear #AddisonGardner thank you for your courage. We too are asking that question of \u2066@Sen_JoeManchin\u2069 \u2066@SenatorSinema\u2069 \u2066@SenatorCollins\u2069 \u2066@lisamurkowski\u2069 \u2066@POTUS\u2069 and the entire #gop. Sadly they\u2019re okay with little girls having a rapist child. #Fight\u201d— ThePowerofOne (@ThePowerofOne) 1658952459
\u201cHer name is #AddisonGardner. \n\nShe is 12 years old. \n\nAnd she is here spitting fiery truths she should never have to consider as the W Va state legislature considers banning abortion in all or most cases. \nhttps://t.co/0wrSaWmMGH\u201d— Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg (@Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg) 1659067216
\u201c@tizzywoman Addison Gardner of West Virginia speaks for a generation. We should all hear her plea and fight for Women\u2019s Rights. I stand with Addison Gardner.\u201d— Justice Seeker \ud83d\uddfd \u262e\ufe0f ~ Keep moving forward (@Justice Seeker \ud83d\uddfd \u262e\ufe0f ~ Keep moving forward) 1658949541
\u201c@washingtonpost No they don't care about your life. They just care about the baby, but only if it is a healthy white baby, they have no need for non healthy ones.\u201d— The Washington Post (@The Washington Post) 1659019269
\u201c@washingtonpost Yet another way in which we're stealing childhood. As adults we have a responsibility to children to create a world in which we don't saddle them with adult cares & concerns. Children as activists may be powerful but to me it's evidence of negligence by adults that they are.\u201d— The Washington Post (@The Washington Post) 1659019269
The bill passed the West Virginia House of Delegates and will now move on to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass.