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A Texas teen raises over $700,000 for abortions after Rep. Matt Gaetz mocked her

Political activist Olivia Julianna, 19, was publicly shamed by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz after the congressman said women who are fat or ugly don't need to worry about getting pregnant or having an abortion. She started raising money for abortion funds across the country after Gaetz attempted to humiliate her, and has since raised over $700,000.
Callaghan O'Hare for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Political activist Olivia Julianna, 19, was publicly shamed by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz after the congressman said women who are fat or ugly don't need to worry about getting pregnant or having an abortion. She started raising money for abortion funds across the country after Gaetz attempted to humiliate her, and has since raised over $700,000.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz attempted to humiliate a teenage girl after arguing that overweight and unattractive women don't need to worry about getting pregnant or needing abortions. That same girl has since raised over $700,000 for abortion care.

Nineteen-year-old political activist Olivia Julianna thanked Gaetz for his attack, which she credits for the wave of donations, and offered to send him a bouquet of flowers; one for every $100,000 raised. The money is being raised through Gen Z for Change, the nonprofit where Julianna serves as a political strategy specialist, but ultimately will be dispersed evenly to 50 abortion funds across the US.

During his speech at the Student Action Summit in Tampa, Fla., Saturday night, Gaetz said, "Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions?"

"Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb," he told the crowd.

Julianna responded to the congressman's words in a Twitter post.

"It's come to my attention that Matt Gaetz — alleged pedophile — has said that it's always the 'odious ... 5'2 350 pound' women that 'nobody wants to impregnate' who rally for abortion," Julian wrote. "I'm actually 5'11. 6'4 in heels. I wear them so the small men like you are reminded of your place."

Gaetz returned fire, sharing a photo of Julianna and suggesting he had struck a nerve.

Julianna said she started raising money for abortions funds in response to the public attack. And though the two have both directly and indirectly exchanged blows over Twitter all week — including some posts that have since been shared thousands of times — the young activist has managed to blast through one fundraising goal after another.

As of 2:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, she had raised more than $725,000 for abortions.

Meanwhile, Gaetz has been criticized for his actions. Once more, the incident drew unwanted attention to an ongoing investigation from 2020 involving the congressman and a series of allegations involving sex with an underage girl. Gaetz has denied the allegations made against him.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.