12-year-old Addison Gardner slams West Virginia Republicans on abortion bill: ‘What about my life?’


At a public hearing for a West Virginia abortion bill that would ban the procedure in almost all cases, a 12-year-old abortion rights supporter took to the pulpit on Wednesday and asked Republican lawmakers if they cared about her or young people like her. : “And my life?”

After West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) called on lawmakers to ‘clarify and modernize’ the state’s abortion laws to reflect the reversal of the Supreme Court ruling. Roe vs. Wadethe Republican-controlled legislature is considering an abortion bill that would not only ban the procedure in most cases, but also allow the prosecution of doctors who perform abortions.

So when dozens of people spoke against the bill in the West Virginia House of Delegates, Addison Gardner was among the speakers who each had 45 seconds to make their case to lawmakers.

“My education is very important to me and I plan to do great things in life,” she said, noting that she played college volleyball and ran track at Buffalo Middle School in Kenova, W. She then posed a series of questions to the much older lawmakers regarding the lack of protections in Bill 302: “If a man decides that I am an object and does unspeakable and tragic things to me, am I , a child, supposed to give birth and bear another child? Should I subject my body to the physical trauma of pregnancy? Am I to suffer the mental implications, a child who had no say in what was done with my body?

She added: “Some here say they are pro-life. And my life? Doesn’t my life matter to you?

Despite impassioned pleas from Gardner and other abortion rights supporters inside and outside the chamber, the West Virginia House passed the bill overwhelmingly 69 to 23. .

Hours after Gardner’s speech, the State House narrowly passed an amendment to the bill allowing abortions in cases of rape or incest. But the amendment exception, which has been increased from 46 to 43, is only allowed up to 14 weeks of pregnancy and only if the rape or incest is reported to the police. The amendment passed by the Republican-led Legislature was narrower than one proposed by Democrats regarding exceptions to abortion for rape or incest, which was firmly rejected in the House.

The bill now heads to the state Senate on Thursday and could pass as soon as the end of the week.

Arizona is one of several Republican-controlled states that point to a century-old law as justification for reducing access to abortions. (Video: Julie Yoon, Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)

West Virginia is among the states that do not have “trigger bans” that would ban abortion within 30 days of deer to be hit. Instead, the state has a pre-deer ban on abortion dating from the 1800s which – in the absence of deer – would come back into force. The Republican-led state never repealed its pre-deer the abortion ban and voters approved a constitutional amendment specifying that West Virginia does not have the right to abortion.

Abortion is now prohibited in these states. See where the laws have changed.

A judge’s ruling last week blocked enforcement of the 150-year-old abortion ban and allowed proceedings to resume in the state for the time being. Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Tera L. Salango granted the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, the state’s only abortion clinic, a preliminary injunction, stating that “those who are impregnated with as a result of rape or incest suffer irreparable harm”. according to the Associated Press. The decision was decried by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (right) as “a dark day for West Virginia”.

On Monday, Justice issued a proclamation calling for a special session of the legislature “to clarify and modernize the abortion laws that currently exist under the West Virginia Code.” The governor’s office said in a press release that this week’s special session would also “ensure a consistent and comprehensive framework governing abortion and ancillary family services and support for pregnant women to provide the citizens of this state with greater certainty.” in the application of these laws.”

“From the moment the Supreme Court announced its decision in Dobbs, I said I would not hesitate to call a special session once I heard from our legislative leaders that they had done their due diligence and were ready to act,” Justice said in a statement. “As I have said many times, I am a very proud defender of life and believe that every human life is a miracle worth protecting.”

At Wednesday’s public hearing, more than 90 people, including medical professionals, clergy and abortion rights activists, raised concerns about the restrictive bill. State. Many of them described the bill as “disgusting”, “delusional” and “inhumane”. Katie Quiñonez, executive director of the Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, was escorted out after going over her 45-second limit.

“This ban has nothing to do with life. It has nothing to do with health. It has nothing to do with family,” she said. “It’s a matter of control.”

Others, like Ash Orr, a transgender activist whose pronouns are they/he, spoke specifically about the experience of rape. Orr said she was raped at ages 9 and 10.

“I want you to explain to me why it would have been okay for me as a child to bear my rapist’s child,” they told lawmakers. “Explain it to me like I’m one of the kids you’re all about to traumatize.”

When Gardner took the pulpit on Wednesday, she found support from Rita Ray, 80, who had an abortion in 1959, before the procedure was legalized by deer. A photo by Kyle Vass, a reporter for the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia, shows Ray smiling as Gardner pleads with lawmakers.

As the chamber passed the bill, video of the vote shows protesters outside the chamber chanting profanities at lawmakers. Even though Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the rape and incest amendment, some lawmakers pointed out that the exception was too narrow.

“Guys, I’m fighting this amendment, big time,” said Democratic delegate Kayla Young, who ended up voting for the amendment, according to West Virginia MetroNews. “I’d rather have something than nothing. Honestly, I want to protect people. I fight. It is all I have.

Before the State Senate begins its hearing on the bill on Thursday, State Sen. Mike Azinger (R) said in an opening prayer that he was grateful that he and his colleagues were not aborted.

“We’re just thankful for that, Lord,” he said.

On July 9, abortion rights activists gathered in Washington DC on Saturday to denounce the recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. (Video: Reuters)

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