Olivia Julianna turns Matt Gaetz insult into fundraiser for abortion rights

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Days after he was publicly insulted by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) on Twitter, Olivia Julianna, a 19-year-old abortion rights advocate, wrote him a tongue-in-cheek thank you note on the platform.

“Dear Matt, although your intentions were hateful, your public shaming of my appearance has only benefited me,” she wrote after her tweet about him sparked a charge of harassment – as well than a flood of donations to his reproductive rights organization.

In about a day, she helped raise about $115,000 for the nonprofit Gen Z for Change.

At a rally last weekend in Tampa, Gaetz mocked abortion rights activists, calling them “disgusting” and overweight. Olivia Julianna, who publicly uses her first and middle names for privacy reasons, critical the remarks on Twitter, noting the sex trafficking allegations against Gaetz. In apparent retaliation, Gaetz then tweeted an image of herself alongside a news story that mentioned her comments from the rally.

This tweet from Gaetz has been retweeted hundreds of times since and has sets off online attacks on teenager.

In response, Olivia Julianna announced a fundraising campaign on behalf of Gen Z for Change, a 500-person youth-led group that says it seeks to create tangible change on “issues that disproportionately affect young people” and supports the right to abortion.

“This is absolutely the craziest amount of donations we have received so far from individuals, especially in such a short time,” she said in an email. “On a larger scale, it highlights the extreme power of social media mobilization, and it shows Republican politicians that their cheap attacks and political theater will no longer be tolerated.”

Generation Z influences the abortion debate – from TikTok

After his comments at the weekend rally at the conservative Turning Point USA Student Action Summit were condemned, a reporter asked Gaetz if he believed women who attended abortion rights rallies were “ugly. and overweight,” and he doubled down on his comments. When asked what he had to say to those offended by these comments, he replied, “Be offended.”

Gaetz is an ally of former President Donald Trump and was first elected to Congress in 2016, representing a district in the Florida Panhandle, an area that has voted heavily Republican for the past few decades. He has voiced his opposition to abortion and abortion rights advocates, and this month voted against two bills aimed at guaranteeing access to abortion. In May, Gaetz was criticized for saying that those protesting the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade are “over-educated and under-loved millennials”.

“I wish Matt Gaetz knew he picked the wrong activist” to start a fight with, Olivia Julianna said.

The donations will be divided among 50 abortion funds, with the aim of expanding access to abortion services, birth control, contraceptives, among other reproductive health services, she said.

Olivia Julianna grew up as a queer Latina in a small, conservative rural community in Texas. “I have been teased, ridiculed and harassed for most of my life. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior anymore,” she said.

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